Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 30, 2013

Michigan GOP leader concerned with electoral change

Plan would divide state's electoral votes proportionally

LANSING (AP) — A top Republican lawmaker cast doubt Tuesday on calls to divide Michigan's electoral votes proportionally, despite the advantage it could give GOP presidential candidates this decade and potentially beyond.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville told reporters he likes the current winner-take-all system. President Barack Obama won all 16 Electoral College votes with his 9-point win over Mitt Romney in November — the sixth straight victory for Democrats after Republicans took the previous five presidential elections.

"I don't know that it's broken, so I don't know if I want to fix it," he said.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder said last week that he "could go either way" on the change and did not plan to push it. In an appearance Tuesday on Bloomberg TV, though, he said he is "very skeptical of the idea" and questioned the timing.

Richardville said Senate Republicans would take a look at the proposal, but he had concerns.

"I've heard these things before, all or nothing versus splitting it up. I want to make sure that Michigan's voice is a loud and clear voice, so I'd be a little concerned if we ended up splitting the difference."

A bill sponsored by Rep. Pete Lund, a Republican from Macomb County's Shelby Township, is expected to be reintroduced to apportion electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins each of 14 congressional districts, with additional two votes going to the winner of the statewide popular vote.

Such a change would give the GOP an advantage for now because Republican voters outnumber Democrats in more of the state's congressional districts, which were drawn by majority GOP legislators in 2011 in the post-Census redistricting process. Romney, for instance, would have won nine electoral votes to Obama's seven if the proposal had been in place for the 2012 election despite Obama winning the popular vote by almost 450,000 votes.

GOP House Speaker Jase Bolger said he is willing to take a look at the proposal.

"Opponents are pushing a misinformed, knee-jerk reaction to a proposal that hasn't even been fully formed into legislation," spokesman Ari Adler said. "The best thing everyone can do is wait for the actual bill and let the committee process run its course so they have the latest information before taking a position."

Democrats say the bill is nothing more than an attempt at election-rigging in a reliably blue presidential state whose government is controlled by Republicans.

"Their remarks are encouraging, but we are not going to relax our vigilance on this," said state Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer, noting that Snyder and Richardville have expressed reluctance on other issues such as a right-to-work law only to get behind them.

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak supports allocating votes by congressional district.

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