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Michigan Makes Primary Move Official

The calendar chaos continued today, with Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm, signing the legislation to officially move her state's primary to Jan. 15.

In a statement, Granholm said the early primary will "lead to greater emphasis on issues that matter to all Americans." It will also no doubt bring a greater emphasis on Michigan, which is exactly what she wanted.

But the ramifications are likely to be huge: Michigan is now officially a week before the New Hampshire primary -- a fact that the Granite state officials cannot, by law, abide. Their primary will soon be moved.

That will force Iowa to move, though just how early the caucuses will be is uncertain. The betting right now is that Gov. Chet Culver will hold the caucuses sometime in the first week of January.

The leading Democratic candidates have all pledged to ignore Michigan, Florida and the other states who have scheduled votes before Feb. 5, in violation of the party's rules. They did so under threat from the party of losing any delegates they would win in a violating state.

But Republican candidates have no such rules to violate, and several have indicated they plan to campaign vigorously in those states. Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, for example, has promised to campaign heavily in Florida for its Jan. 29 primary.

Today is technically the Republican National Committee's deadline for states to inform the party of their voting schedule. Any state voting earlier than Feb. 5 -- including New Hampshire and Iowa -- will lose 50 percent of their delegates to the party's 2008 convention. It's a penalty the early states seem more than willing to accept. "If a state chooses to go outside the window, they are automatically penalized," said one RNC official. "It's not a may, it's a shall."

But in both parties, there's a belief that whatever penalties are meted out will be voided when the conventions gather next summer. The hope is that party leaders will want unity, not division, going into the general election.

"The will of the convention in our system is paramount," the RNC official conceded. "We are a creature of the convention of the grass roots of this nation."

--Michael D. Shear

By Washington Post editors  |  September 4, 2007; 3:16 PM ET
 
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