Business groups endorse moving up Michigan presidential primary

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Leading business groups in Michigan are urging the Democratic National Committee to choose Michigan to host an early presidential primary in 2024. 

In letters to the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Lansing Regional Chamber, the Michigan Manufacturers Association, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance argued that the state's racial and economic diversity and affordable media markets make it an ideal candidate for an early primary state. 

The groups — most of which have historically supported Republican candidates and policies — also made the case that Michigan's Republican-led Legislature might be open to working with Democrats to change the date. 

"We understand that above all else, Michigan needs to be able to move our primary date, which requires partnership with the Republican Legislature. Michigan is a rare state that still gets things done on a bipartisan level," the groups wrote in a letter signed by all but the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

"A number of Republicans have expressed their desire for a date change, indicating a credible and strong opening to move our date with the Legislature’s partnership."

The DNC announced in April it would reopen its presidential nominating process after Iowa's bungled 2020 Democratic caucuses furthered complaints that the state doesn't represent the party's racial or economic diversity.

The Rules and Bylaws Committee is planning to recommend up to five states to hold primaries before the first Tuesday in March, the traditional date for "Super Tuesday" in the presidential primaries when multiple states hold primaries. Primaries and caucuses early in the election cycle are considered tests of candidates' viability, so early states enjoy policy focus and media attention showered upon their voters. 

Last week, Michigan was one of 16 states and Puerto Rico to pitch the committee on choosing them to be among the first five. The committee is set to announce the order by early August. 

Multiple members of the panel asked Michigan's delegation whether they could provide assurances that Republicans in the state Legislature would be willing to pass a law to move up the state's primary. 

The Republican National Committee, chaired by Michigan's Ronna Romney McDaniel, in April voted to retain the first four states in its 2024 presidential primary as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

In a separate letter, Detroit Regional Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah touted the chamber's history of bipartisan endorsements and said he is dedicated to working with the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to pass a law that would accommodate an earlier primary. 

"It is with this record of bipartisanship the Chamber strongly supports the move to make Michigan the first primary state," he wrote. "Such a move is good for Michigan and good for the nation."

Michigan Democrats are arguing that the state's racial diversity, varied economic drivers and easy accessibility to different media markets make Michigan a good choice for the DNC. They have also touted Michigan's consistent status as a swing state and argued that candidates who can appeal to Michigan voters are more likely to succeed in the general election. 

Michigan's 2020 primary took place March 10, about five weeks after Iowa's caucuses and four weeks after New Hampshire's primary, and a week after Super Tuesday.

rbeggin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @rbeggin