LANSING, Mich. — In the final days leading up to today’s Republican presidential primary in Michigan, there is considerable evidence that both Democratic Party leaders as well as some labor unions are urging a cross-over vote by normally Democratic voters in the GOP contest. Such cross-over voting is legal and longstanding in a state with no registration and a long modern history of Michigan Democrats going into Republican contests and vice versa.
That it’s intent is to create some mischief in the four-candidate Republican contest appears inarguable. Whether this voting will be large enough to have an impact on the GOP race and what that impact will be is uncertain.
In response to the reports of a crossover orchestrated by Democratic and union chieftains, State Republican Chairman Bobby Schostak issued a statement late Monday evening denouncing the practice. Noting “reports that several organizations are now attempting to undermine Tuesday’s election results,” Schostak wrote to “Fellow Republicans” denouncing “the malicious intent by these organizations to confuse voters, dilute the election results, and undermine the primary process.” Schostak called on reliable GOP voters to “send a message to any organization or campaign attempting to undermine the will of the people by remembering to vote.”
The chairman’s strongly-worded message came days after Democratic State Chairman Mark Brewer in an email last week reminded his party’s reliable supporters that their voting in the Republican primary will not affect their ability to participate in the Democratic Party’s caucus in May. (Michigan Democrats have no primary and choose their national convention delegation through local caucuses throughout the state).
In the last two days, HUMAN EVENTS also picked up reports of union locals urging members to go into the Republican primary Feb. 28 and support a candidate considered a weaker opponent to President Obama. Ingham County (Lansing) GOP Chairman Norm Shinkle told HUMAN EVENTS that two members of United Auto Workers Local 602 in Lansing had seen handbills in their workplaces urging employees to “Support Obama” by voting for a Republican who could be very beatable by the President.
Other Republicans, while agreeing there is some of what State Attorney General (and state Romney campaign chairman) Bill Schuette calls “monkeying around,” do not think it will be anywhere near as significant as that in 2000. That’s when the Michigan Education Association and other unions called on their members to cross into the Republican primary to support John McCain over George W. Bush — not because they were pro-McCain, but because they wanted to embarrass Republican Gov. John Engler, who had proclaimed his state a “firewall for Bush.” The tactic, which the MEA and their allies were quite open about, worked, and McCain won handily.
But there will clearly be some degree of “monkeying around” by Democrats in the GOP field. The big questions is, of course, whether the GOP will feel it when the results come in Tuesday night.