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Michigan In Chaos

Just shy of two months before Michigan was scheduled to hold their presidential nominating primary, on January 15, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette ruled the contest unconstitutional, throwing the actual date of the primary into question. Tom Bevan's been following the back and forth, though some new developments have arisen that cause the waters to muddy further.

The Michigan State Legislature could have engineered an easy fix. State legislators hurriedly put together a bill addressing issues Collette found unconstitutional in order to save the January 15 date, but Democrats blocked the move, and Republicans could not muster the votes necessary to give any legislation immediate effect, according to a memo from Michigan GOP spokesman Bill Nowling.

State Republicans have a contingency plan, in case further attempts to revert to the January 15 date are unsuccessful. In that event, the GOP would hold a state convention on the 25th and 26th of January, still before the approved February 5th window and still ahead of Florida's January 29 contest.

At the convention, delegates from each Congressional District will meet to vote on a candidate, and the winner from each district will get three delegates to the national convention, for a total of 45 delegates. The state's twelve at-large delegates will be apportioned by a vote from the whole body of delegates on the 26th.

Democrats' backup plan is not immediately clear, though the party would likely be forced to switch to caucuses or a convention as well. Still, Democrats in the state legislature are hoping to win passage of "pet projects," as Nowling calls them, in exchange for their votes to fix the primary. In order to save the January 15 date, and under pressure from Sen. Carl Levin, the primary driver of Michigan's effort to hold an early contest, one side will probably buckle to pressure and make the changes and deals necessary.

But for now, Michigan remains a state without a presidential primary. It is safe to assume that this is not what Levin envisioned or hoped for.