- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2008

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan voters almost certainly will not return to the polls for a second primary.

The state Senate recessed for a two-week Easter break yesterday without taking up legislation that would set up guidelines for a revote, all but ending the chance of another election to replace the January vote that was held contrary to Democratic National Committee rules and led the party to strip Michigan of its delegates to the presidential nominating convention.

While Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton made a special trip to Detroit on Wednesday to drum up support for a presidential primary revote, Michigan lawmakers said they were concerned about provisions in the bill, including private funding for a public election, as well as legal issues that could cause problems for the state.

“This proposal is fraught with issues that could potentially blow up in our face,” said state Sen. Tupac Hunter, a Detroit Democrat who serves as state co-chairman for the Obama campaign. “Nobody wants that.”

One-time Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut continued to promote the idea of splitting the delegates between Mrs. Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama as a solution to the Michigan problem.

“The best outcome is to come to an arrangement where the delegates are apportioned fairly between Senators Obama and Clinton, so the Michigan delegation can participate fully in the Denver convention,” he said.

The Obama campaign agreed to such a plan, but the Clinton camp rejected it outright, noting that if Mr. Obama ultimately becomes the nominee, his win would be tainted without votes from Michigan or Florida.

Florida also was penalized for holding an early primary and scrapped plans for a new vote.

“I do not see how two of our largest and most significant states can be disenfranchised and left out of the process of picking our nominee without raising serious questions about the legitimacy of that nominee,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters while campaigning in Indiana.

On the campaign trail in Charleston, W.Va., yesterday Jeff Lynch, 48, a Michigan native, asked Mr. Obama when he would get the chance to vote for him there.

“Probably in the general election,” Mr. Obama told him. “A redo vote is very complicated.”

Mr. Lynch, an Obama supporter, did not defend his state’s delegate quandary and said he was not upset that a revote had been quashed, because the party “set forth a group of rules and we violated the rules.”

Clinton spokesman Harold Ickes said that “assuming there is not a legislatively required rerun primary, we would seriously entertain the possibility of a party-run, mail-in ballot.”

Democratic Party officials in Florida had proposed a mail-in solution, but the state’s congressional delegation roundly dismissed the idea.

Michigan lawmakers scotched legislation because of concern that state election workers would not have sufficient time to hold a revote by June 3.

“We talked to our city clerks and our country clerks and listened to their concerns about being able to successfully execute this election,” Mr. Hunter said. “Many have geared up in communities across the state for school elections that take place in May. They are concerned about having to basically rearrange their infrastructure” and had further concerns about cost.

The Michigan Democratic Party had backed a new primary.

“None of the legal objections to the legislation have any merit,” state party Chairman Mark Brewer said.

Political observers said the mishandling of the primaries likely will hurt the Democratic nominee in November by angering voters in two of the nation’s 10 largest states.

“These are two of the most important potential swing states in the country,” said Robert Watson, an American studies professor at Lynn University in Florida. “I don’t know how the Democrats can expect to win the White House without carrying one of these states.

“In politics, perception is reality and the damage might already be done,” he said, calling the predicament “one of the most embarrassing political blunders I’ve seen in my career.”

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