Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer signs bill bumping up presidential primary date

By: - February 1, 2023 3:53 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist host a year-end roundtable with reporters, Dec. 14, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 13 into law Wednesday, teeing up Michigan to have earlier presidential primary elections potentially starting in 2024.

It was the second bill Whitmer has signed this week, marking a historically early start to the new legislative session.

“As a diverse, dynamic, optimistic state where we are building the future, Michigan is an ideal place to hold an early presidential primary,” Whitmer said in a statement Wednesday.

“ … 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.”

SB 13 was adopted in the state Senate last week and passed by the House on Tuesday before heading to Whitmer’s desk. The new law moves up Michigan’s presidential primary election date to the fourth Tuesday in February rather than the second Tuesday in March.

For the next election cycle in 2024, that date would be Feb. 27, 2024. But since Republican opposition to the measure prevented it from receiving immediate effect in the Legislature, more action is needed to ensure it can take effect before that date.

Those options range from the Legislature concluding session for the year earlier than usual, (known as sine die) in late November instead of late December to the Senate changing its rules for how immediate effect is implemented.

Democrats also hope that the Republican National Committee (RNC) will change its own rules for delegates, which currently could penalize Republicans if the next primary were to be moved to Feb. 27, 2024.

“We have always said that any road to the White House goes through the heartland — our state legislature and Governor Whitmer understand that,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor). “Michigan is the most diverse battleground state, and in our state, you see the diversity of experiences across America: racial diversity, political diversity, and diversity of geography, industry, and labor.

“While we are one step closer to the early primary states looking like the nation becoming a reality, the fight isn’t over, and we will work hard to earn the votes of the full DNC [Democratic National Committee].”

The full DNC is set to vote this month on whether or not to formally accept the new date changes in Michigan and several other states after a DNC panel approved them late last year.


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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.