Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama, John Edwards and Bill Richardson announced yesterday that they had filed paperwork to remove their names from the Michigan primary ballot, but their student supporters said they plan to press on with their plans to win student votes.
Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich, two other Democratic candidate said in a statement that he would skip the primary.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign said she’ll stay on the ballot, but won’t campaign in Michigan, as the other candidates have also pledged.
The Democratic National Committee asked the candidates to withdraw from Michigan’s primary after the state legislature moved it Jan. 15. Democratic Party rules prohibit states other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada from holding their nominating contests before Feb. 5.
“We still hope that Michigan Democrats can adopt a process that meets DNC rules and, if so, look forward to fighting for the votes of men and women across the state,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.
University of Michigan student groups supporting the candidates saw their causes lose immediacy when the withdrawals were announced yesterday, but some see it as only a minor stumbling block.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, but we’re confident that a solution can still be reached,” said LSA junior Travis Radina, co-chair of Students for John Edwards for President.
Radina said his organization will not change its approach to the campaign but will instead hope for a compromise between the DNC and the state. The organization will, however, begin encouraging out-of-state students to register in their home states and vote via absentee ballot.
“This is something we’ve been thinking about a lot, and we’re definitely encouraging people to do it,” Radina said.
Radina has scheduled a meeting of the organization’s executive board tomorrow to discuss plans to encourage the state to move the election date back. The DNC would then allow the candidates to run in Michigan’s primary.
“I think it will be better for students if all the candidates are on the ballot,” Radina said.
Unless Michigan moves its primary back to a date in compliance with DNC rules or the state party holds its own nominating caucus after Feb. 5, the DNC says it will strip the state of its 156 convention delegates. Florida – whose planned Jan. 29 primary also violates DNC calendar rules – could lose its delegates as well. Florida has 210 delegates. The decision would remove 356 of the 4,360 total delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
LSA sophomore Tom Duvall said his group, Students for Barack Obama won’t change its tactics.
“We’re still going to keep going, exactly as we are, because we’re confident that a compromise will come soon regarding the primary date,” he said.
Other student organizations were affected less directly by the withdrawals.
“I’m a little disappointed (in the candidates). I think (removing their names from the ballot) is an unnecessary move,” said Kelly Bernero, co-chair of the University chapter of Students for Hillary. “But we’re really happy that Hillary has decided to stay on the ballot. I think it sends a positive message to voters in Michigan.”
Clinton’s campaign issued a statement saying she would remain on the ballot because she has a different interpretation of DNC rules than the withdrawn candidates.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.