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« NE Primary May Shrink | Blog Home Page | Population Shifts Toward GOP »

Michigan In Trouble

While lawyers for Michigan are urging the state's Supreme Court to reinstate the January 15 primary date, election officials say they have to know by Wednesday whether to move forward with preparations, the Detroit News reports. State elections director Chris Thomas said any further delay would prevent officials from promising a primary "without failures, without great likelihood of errors or without disenfranchising a large number of military, overseas and out-of-state voters."

The appeal yesterday hoped to overturn two lower court rulings in which judges have said the appropriation of money for the primary was unconstitutional. Giving money to a private cause, which is in essence what a primary is, requires a two-thirds vote of the Michigan legislature; the bill moving the primary to January 15 did not meet that threshold.

It is still unclear whether the legislature can or will vote on an amendment to fix the legal issues raised by the lower court judges. The state's top court was of little help itself, giving no indication of when it would rule or if it would schedule further arguments.

Jonathan Martin is one of many who thinks Michigan's eventual conclusion -- whether it's proceeding with the primary or changing to a convention formula -- would have a dramatic impact on the GOP race. John McCain and Mitt Romney each have serious organizations there, while Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson do not, leaving them in bad position should a convention materialize.

If Romney takes the cake, it's another notch in his early state win list -- at the moment, Romney leads both the RCP Iowa Average and the RCP New Hampshire Average -- heading into South Carolina, which many believe will present him his earliest challenge.

But a primary, which would play out more on television, would invite Giuliani and Thompson to start an air war, making Romney's path more difficult. At what point does Giuliani, or Thompson for that matter, begin to make his stand against Romney's gathering momentum? If the Michigan Supreme Court rules for a primary, it may be there.