Does Romney Want An Early Michigan?

The big '08 news this week has been the likelihood of Michigan moving its Presidential contests up to January 15, which would cause even more screwiness in an already screwy process. But I haven't seen much discussion of how this might affect the hopes of our own former Governor, Mitt Romney.

Michigan is one of Romney's home states (along with Massachusetts and Utah); he was born and raised there, his father was a major political and business figure there, and his father-in-law was a mayor of his hometown, Bloomfield Hills. Romney has raised truckloads of money there, and it was one of the handful of early-voting states where he established Commonwealth PAC entities as far back as 2004.

In theory, Michigan should be a great opportunity for Romney to pick up an extra win before things head into more hostile Southern territory.

But what if he loses Michigan? A poll released last week shows Romney in fifth place there, with a meager 12%, behind Fred Thompson (22%), Giuliani (19%), McCain (16%), and Gingrich (15%).

The state's Republican Party is currently working on a new set of rules on how its delegates will be distributed (ie, winner-take-all in each congressional district? etc.). Some in the Michigan blogosphere have been griping that the state GOP is in Romney's pocket, and worry that the rules may be rigged to favor him. The delegate distribution matters: unlike tiny Iowa and New Hampshire, Michigan has a meaningful number of delegates, and unlike the Democrats, the national GOP is not threatening to ban delegates from states that vote before February.

There's also some potential controversy brewing for the Mackinaw Republican Leadership Conference, scheduled for September 21-23. All of the Presidential candidates (except Tancredo) are scheduled to speak, but there's some rumblings that McCain and/or Giuliani might bail, depending on how the delegate rules shake out.

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