Michigan Republican Party Took Opposite Position on Withdrawing from Presidential Primary in 1980 than it Does in 2012

As has been reported already, this year the Michigan Republican Party intervened in court to keep Gary Johnson off the ballot because his name appeared on the 2012 Republican presidential primary ballot. He had tried to withdraw but his withdrawal form was faxed in at 4:03 p.m. and the deadline was 4 p.m.

Back in 1980, the Republican Party took a different position. This has only come to light on September 20, when the briefs from a 1980 ballot access case in the Michigan Supreme Court were retrieved from storage. That case is Michigan Republican State Central Committee v Austin, no. 51492 in the State Court of Appeals, and 65178 in the Michigan Supreme Court.

In 1980, the deadline for someone to withdraw from the Republican presidential primary was March 21 at 4 p.m. Anderson, who did not want to be on the Republican presidential primary ballot, did not withdraw until April 24, in a letter that the Secretary of State did not receive until April 28. In 1980, the Michigan Republican Party wanted Anderson to be permitted to withdraw from the primary ballot. The Republican Party even filed a lawsuit to force Michigan to remove Anderson from the primary ballot. The party’s brief acknowledges that Anderson was late to withdraw, but the brief says he should be allowed to withdraw anyway, because “If one accepts the interpretation of the Attorney General then one is forced to conclude that the (withdrawal deadline) statute will not pass constitutional muster. In the first place, the deadline for filing is the same as the deadline for withdrawal so that, in effect, there is actually no time period for withdrawal. Second, the statute requires that the ballot be permanently fixed approximately two months before the election. In a volatile Presidential race, such a time constraint is unreasonable.”

Thus, the Republican Party in 1980 argued that Anderson’s withdrawal should be permitted even though it was not received until 38 days past the withdrawal deadline, yet in 2012 it argued that Johnson’s withdrawal request should be denied because it was three minutes too late. The 2012 withdrawal deadline was December 9, 2011, which is 103 days earlier than the 1980 withdrawal deadline.


  1. By the same standards, John Anderson getting 5% of the vote in 1980 was not as threatening to Ronald Reagan as Gary Johnson getting 1-3% of the vote is to Mitt Romney. Also by the same standards, John Anderson debating Reagan is not as threatening as Gary Johnson not debating Romney.

    These are poor double standards the Republican Party are setting. I am very hopeful the Libertarian Party will still get a Gary Johnson on the ballot in Michigan.

  2. At this point, Michigan Republicans are doing themselves no favors. The Romney campaign has stopped paid advertising in Michigan and in effect conceded the state to President Obama.

    By continuing to press to keep Gary Johnson off the ballot, Michigan Republicans are making it harder for limited government Republican candidates to appeal to Libertarian voters in other races and other states.

  3. Casual Bystander · · Reply

    I hope the GOP really takes it in the A$$ statewide in Michigan.

  4. Mark Seidenberg · · Reply

    Gene Beckman,

    First I believe that two wrongs do not make a right!

    I would be of interest on how the fusion laws work in

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg, Vice Chairman,
    American Independent Party of California

  5. Mark @ 4 OK, two wrongs don’t make a right. Not sure how relevant that observation is.

    I don’t believe Michigan allows fusion (or multiple nomination). Michigan has open primaries, with no party registration, and states with open primaries usually do not allow fusion, because a dominant party could organize a raid on another party’s primary.

  6. @4 Mark, the other Michigan candidates can put pressure on the Republican Secretary of State to knock it off and let Gary on. If they don’t… let them lose the republican/libertarian vote.

    Read this story http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127–286103–,00.html

    Where the Michigan SOS Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is in the Middle East this week meeting with U.S. military men and women serving there to learn how to best ensure they can cast their votes with confidence back home.

    As long as these service men and woman only have pro-war candidates to vote for.

  7. As my dad used to say…. we are going to have a non-biased election and anyone who disagrees with me is biased and so we wont count their vote.

  8. History:

    Ken Blackwell was SOS for Ohio and blocked libertarian from the ballot. http://shmooth.blogspot.com/2004/02/ohio-blocks-ballot-access-for.html

    Ken Blackwell lost a race for Ohio Governor by a 24% margin.

    Katherine Harris was SOS for Florida during the 2000 presidential election. She won a Congressional Seat in 2002 and lost a race for Senate in 2006.

    My point being…. if you are a Secretary of State for a state and you mess with ballot access, voter registration or ballot counting there should be a heavy political penalty for doing so.

    We need a good solid candidate from the Libertarian Party to run against Ruth Johnson in the next election she decides to take part in in Michigan. Make Ruth political history!

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