LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Republicans in Michigan’s Legislature offered concern on Wednesday as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill pushed through by Democrats to move up the state’s presidential primary elections to February beginning in 2024.

The Democrat majority passed the bill without going through a review committee to become the second Public Act of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s second term as governor. 

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Representative Ann Bollin (R-Brighton) opposed a plan for several reasons, including a lack of transparency.  According to Bollin, Democrats rushed the bill through the House without a committee hearing that would allow the public and local clerks the opportunity to weigh in. 

“As legislators, we are elected by the people in our communities to represent their views and serve as their voice in Lansing,” Bollin said during a speech opposing the measure. “We’re supposed to set aside party affiliation and the preferences of political party leaders and work for the people in our districts based on principles. Moving up the presidential primary is not an issue I hear about from people at home. It’s not even an issue I heard about from the local clerks as the chair of the House Elections and Ethics committee last term.” 

Despite a small margin of 53 no votes in the house, the legislature passed with 56 yes votes and one non-vote Senate Bill 13

“As a diverse, dynamic, optimistic state where we are building the future, Michigan is an ideal place to hold an early presidential primary,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “Michiganders are tough. We’ve come together to grow our economy and create jobs through transformational investments in the technology of the future. We’re making our economy more resilient and putting the world on notice that we are playing to win. I was proud to sign Senate Bill 13, which will bring economic activity to Michigan and ensure our voices are heard during the primary process. Let’s continue to create jobs, grow our economy, and build a state where everyone can envision their future.” 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow provided her thoughts on the future impact of this legislation. 

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“Governor Whitmer and our state legislature know that in order to win the presidency you must win the heartland. That’s why Michigan is the best place to pick a president,” Stabenow said in a statement. “Today, we are another step closer in making sure the presidential selection process truly reflects all of America.” 

Senator Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township) expressed concern about the bill in an earlier press conference. 

“Anything before March 1, the Republicans would lose 86% of their delegates to the national convention, we had 73 at the 2020 national convention. And we would go down from 73 to 12 the next convention if it’s anything before March 1,” Nesbitt said, “So I offered [the Democrats] March 1, two days later.  The way Republican rules are, RNC bylaws are that they cannot change those bylaws until after the next national convention; unlike the Democratic National Committee bylaws where they can change them at any time.” 

For Nesbitt, changing the date would not necessarily help the Democratic Party if President Biden was running for re-election. 

“So if President Biden is going to run for re-election, why does it matter when the Democratic primary is next year? And Republicans are going to have likely a competitive primary field, so isn’t it important that Michigan has as great of a voice on presidential primaries as possible on the Repbublican’s side? And not make us irrelevant by cutting out 86% of our delegates?,” he said. 

Nesbitt also expressed his concerns that the national committees of the Democratic and Republican parties did not meet regarding changing the primary dates. 

“And so I am a little disappointed that the national committees, the Democratic National Committee did not sit down with the Republican National Committee and actually figure out what makes sense in terms of having the primary schedule go forward.  Instead the Biden White House unilaterally issued this is what our decision is. And if he’s running for reelection, he’s not going to have any major competition on the Democratic side.”