The Washington Post

Michigan Democratic Party encourages crossover voting in GOP presidential primary

Operation Chaos in Michigan? Again?

The Michigan Democratic Party sent an e-mail to supporters Wednesday encouraging them to take part in the state’s Republican presidential primary on Tuesday.

The e-mail points to a YouTube video of two Republican state senators encouraging Democrats to vote and notes that voters can still return to voting in the Democratic caucuses two months from now.

“Any Democrat who takes Senators Jones and Meekhof up on their offer will still be able to participate in the Michigan Democratic Party’s presidential caucuses on May 5, 2012,” Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said in the brief missive. “If Democratic crossover votes affect the results of the GOP presidential primary next Tuesday, the Republicans will only have themselves to blame.”

There has been some discussion that Democrats might cross over and vote for Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney in an effort either to prolong the Republican nominating contest or to nominate the supposedly less-electable Santorum.

Don Graves, center, and wife, Lori, right, attend a rally for Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum at the El-Zaribah Shrine Auditorium, Tuesday in Phoenix, Ariz. The Graves' sons Jordon, left, and Jaidon, background, are also seen. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

This is hardly the first time this kind of strategy has popped up in Michigan. In 1972, Democrats blamed Republicans for crossing over and voting for segregationist George Wallace, and the same thing happened in 1988 when Jesse Jackson won the state (his only victory in the North). Then, in 2000, Democrats were credited with delivering John McCain a win over George W. Bush, who had been on the path to the nomination.

Likewise, just four years ago Rush Limbaugh encouraged Republicans to cross over and vote for Hillary Clinton when President Obama was on the verge of winning the nomination.

All of that said, it’s quite unusual for one party to actively suggest its voters take part in another party’s primary. (Even though the state party didn’t specifically say which GOP candidate the Democrats should vote for.)

This year’s effort, which is being pushed by liberal blogs like Daily Kos, has been dubbed “Operation Hilarity.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.


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