Earlier today the MDP released a statement postponing the Legacy Dinner and potentially canceling the March 21st Convention. The statement reads:

Due to public health concerns, I am regretfully announcing the postponement of the Michigan Democratic Party’s annual Legacy Dinner scheduled for March 20th. I will also call an emergency State Central Committee telephonic meeting for tomorrow night to ask the Committee to cancel the Michigan Democratic Party’s March 21st convention.

While there have been no reports of a COVID-19 infection among potential attendees to either event, the Michigan Democratic Party takes seriously the concerns of public health professionals and Governor Gretchen Whitmer who has declared a state of emergency and advised against such gatherings.

A couple of points. First, unlike the August Nominating Convention, the March 21st convention is not required by state law. Endorsement conventions were added to MDP bylaws in 2016 for the purpose of settling on an endorsed candidate before August. The idea being, if the MDP chooses candidates early, they have much more time to make the case against Republicans. There’s nothing saying a candidate who isn’t endorsed can’t continue, but it would likely be an uphill climb to the nomination. The very first endorsement convention ever held was the April 2018 convention where Dana Nessel won the headline contest (full disclosure: I ran the Nessel campaign for the 2018 MDP endorsement).

The Spring Convention in even-numbered years appears in MDP Rule 10.8, which reads:

The MDP shall assemble in State Convention for the purposes of endorsing one candidate for Secretary of State, one candidate for Attorney General, and one candidate for each available seat on the Michigan Supreme Court, no later than April 30 immediately preceding the general election for these offices, unless a 60% vote of the Democratic State Central Committee suspends this requirement in whole or in part no later than 60 days prior to this deadline. Nothing in this paragraph prohibits the MDP from endorsing other candidates by this deadline, consistent with the rules of this document. This amendment will take effect beginning with the 2018 general election.

There is no other mention of the endorsement convention in the rules. As it stands there is no obvious way to delay or cancel the convention under the rules. There are no provisions for canceling the convention inside of 60 days, as we are now. I have reached out to MDP leadership to ask for the procedure they will follow to comply with the rules, but that information was not available. The most likely procedure is to suspend the rules, requiring a 2/3rds majority vote, followed by a vote on canceling the convention (simple majority vote). I believe this is the correct action to take under the circumstances, given the severe health risks to members and guests.

I will vote to cancel the convention.

Some people have asked if this will affect the deadline for submitting applications to run for delegate at the May 16th district conventions to be held across the state or the June 13th State Central meeting.

There is no connection between the deadline and the March convention.

There is no reason to postpone or delay the April 16th deadline for pledged delegate forms for district-level delegates or the May 18th deadline for PLEO, At-Large Delegates, Alternates, or Convention Committee members. Details on how to become a delegate are here.

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