WASHINGTON - Michigan Democrats agreed yesterday to push a do-over primary in early June to give them a say in the close presidential race between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Amid talks with the two campaigns, four Michigan Democrats said they were "focusing on the possibility of a state-run primary in early June which would not use any state funding." Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, one of the Democratic participants, said a likely date is June 3.
"This option would require the passage of legislation by the state Legislature, and we look forward to working with the members of the Legislature in the coming days to see if this option can be made a reality," the Democrats said.
Other Michigan Democrats working on the plan were Democratic National Committee member Debbie Dingell, Senator Carl Levin, and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger.
Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said the potential privately funded primary was "a good first step."
The agreement now hinges on getting the campaigns and party officials to approve legislation, still being written. In the statement, Brewer said party leaders would need to write legislation "that is acceptable to the MDP and both the Clinton and Obama campaigns."
To go forward, any plan would also require the approval of the Democratic National Committee, state party leaders, and Governor Jennifer Granholm, who is backing Clinton. Brewer said a revised delegate plan would also need to be approved by the state party's executive committee and the DNC's rules and bylaws panel.
Michigan Democrats need to act quickly because the politically divided Legislature will have to sign off on the deal and approve how to spend the privately raised funds for a new election. Members of the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate leave at the end of the month on their two-week spring break.
The contest must be held by June 10 for the results to count under DNC rules.
The national party punished Michigan and Florida for moving up their primaries before Feb. 5, stripping them of all their delegates. The two states have been struggling to come up with alternative plans to ensure their delegates are seated at the convention this summer in Denver.