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Michigan GOP plans shakeup of presidential primary, shift power to caucuses

Michigan Republicans are weighing a plan to award presidential delegates through congressional caucuses, placing less emphasis on the open primary. (Shutterstock photo by Rob Crandall)

  • Michigan GOP plans caucuses, primary for presidential nomination
  • Most delegates would be awarded at 13 district meetings
  • State party seeks to avoid penalty for Democratic date shift

June 12: Kristina Karamo: Presidential vote shakeup ‘best solution’ for Michigan GOP

LANSING — Michigan Republican Party officials want to award most of the state’s presidential nominating delegates to the winner of 13 separate district caucuses, a move that would minimize the importance of the public primary four days earlier. 

The Michigan GOP’s state central committee is set to vote Saturday on the plan as outlined in a “resolution of intent” obtained by Bridge MIchigan. The Detroit News first reported on the document Friday. 

The plan, according to the resolution, is a response to a new law adopted by the Democratic-led Legislature moving the state’s presidential primary to Feb. 27, an earlier date than years past that would violate Republican National Committee rules for the state GOP. 


If approved, the plan would see Michigan Republicans award 10 delegates to the candidate who wins the Feb. 27 primary, which the state party would formally do through a separate resolution designed to avoid any RNC penalties. 

Thirty-nine delegates would be awarded based on results of GOP caucus meetings in each of Michigans’s thirteen congressional districts on March 2. Three others would be decided by Michigan’s elected Republican National Committee members.

The hybrid plan is “designed to provide for representation of voters, maximize participation in the Michigan Presidential Candidate Rally by candidates and the base, provide for maximum county and district involvement in the process, provide for a delegate selection process that the RNC will not penalize, provide for a process that minimizes any election fraud that could impact on Presidential candidate selection, to restore Michigan’s full count of delegates and provides for the certainty of how electors will vote in the RNC convention in an apportioned manner,” according to the resolution.

The Michigan Republican Party, operating under new chair Kristina Karamo, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the “resolution of intent” or pending central committee vote, which aims to bind the state party to the presidential delegate plan. 

The plan represents a major shift for the Michigan GOP, which for decades has awarded all of its delegates to the national presidential nominating convention to the winner of the state’s primary, which is open to all voters. 

Instead, most of the delegates would be decided by a vote of party loyalists. County-level GOP parties would nominate members to the thirteen district caucuses, each of which would award three delegates to the first candidate to win a majority, with a run-off possible. 

In a recent Zoom call with GOP activists, Michigan RNC Committeeman Rob Steele said Karamo and other state party officials had met with RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel as they developed the plan. 

The Michigan GOP would lose 43 of its 55 delegates to the national convention if they relied exclusively on the results of a Feb. 27 primary, as called for under a law passed by the Democratic-led Legislature, Steele said. 

The state’s presidential primary date is not yet set in stone, however. The Legislature voted to move up the contest, typically held the second week in March, but would have to adjourn by the end of November for the new law to take effect by the proposed Feb. 27 contest.

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