Michigan eyeing early primary

The state Senate in Michigan voted Thursday to hold its presidential primary on Feb. 28, a move that could bolster the state's influence in the contest but could also subject it to major penalties at the GOP nominating convention.

The bill heads to the House for consideration, and then to the governor's desk. Republicans control both chambers in Michigan's Legislature.

The vote came the same week that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) scheduled her state's primary for Feb. 28, an attempt to give Arizona voters a bigger say in the nominating process. Florida is also flirting with moving up its primary.

The attempts set up the groundwork for a showdown between the states and the national political parties. An agreement between the Democratic and Republican committees allows only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to hold contests before March 6.

States that flaunt that rule risk losing some of their delegates to the nominating conventions. Republicans in Michigan are also concerned that voters might not turn out if they think their votes won't fully count.

In Michigan, state statute already calls for Feb. 28 voting as part of the consolidated election days Michigan holds four times per year. Lawmakers would either have to move that Feb. 28 date to be later than March 6 or schedule a fifth date to accommodate the primary.