Thursday, May 7, 2015

Passions RAGE In Heated Facebook Fight Over 2016 Presidential Primary (Make Your Voice Heard NOW!)

Above: MIGOP Co-Chair Jeff Sakwa, with MIGOP Youth Chair Michael Banerian. Below: 8th District Chair Tom McMillin (Phtos by Dar/Ken Photography)

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

This weekend, the MIGOP Policy Committee will take up a resolution from 8th District Chair Tom McMillin, also a member of the policy committee. McMillin's resolution would change the process for how Republicans choose their nominee for President in 2016.

Passions have been raging over the issue, with Dennis Pittman accusing MIGOP Co-Chair Jeff Sakwa of twisting arms in favor of an "open primary." Sakwa fired back in a heated back-and-fourth that also saw MIGOP Youth Chair Michael Banerian trade barbs with Tom McMillin.

Sakwa says he supports a more closed system, but that is an issue for the legislature...

Here are some FAQ's from Tom McMillin about the issue.

>>>Below, check out the Facebook discussion, as well as information on how to reach members of the committee that will make the decision this Saturday so your voice can be heard on this important issue.

FAQs of Rescinding the Open Primary

Why rescind the Open Primary rules?

The main reason to rescind the Open Primary rules is because the rules are not due to the RNC until October 1st of 2015, and this State Committee should have the opportunity to debate the matter.  The grassroots base of the party across the state is tired of Democrats voting in our process.  While many on the previous Committee believed they had to pass something due to tight deadlines, the truth is and was, that Oct 1, 2015 is the deadline.  And the fact is the current State Committee will administer the delegate allocation process, and therefore the current State Committee should rightfully weigh in on what that process looks like.

Have Democrats ever truly influenced the results of the Primary?

Yes, on several occasions.  They helped the more moderate John McCain defeat George W Bush in the 2000 Presidential Primary, and the more moderate Rick Snyder win the 2010 Gubernatorial Primary.  There was also an impact in some Congressional Districts in the 2012 Presidential Primary.

Why does a March 8th Open Primary make Michigan lack relevance?

This will be the first time since 1980 that Michigan will be AFTER Super Tuesday.  There will be at least 15-20 states that go before Michigan if we stay with our March 8th Open Primary.  Conservative candidates will also be much less likely to participate because they know that the Democrats who will crossover to vote in the Open Primary will favor more moderate candidates.

Is the MIGOP pressuring people on behalf of the Governor to go along with the Open Primary?

Ronna Romney-McDaniel campaigned in favor of a closed Primary and told several people that she would allow the State Committee to decide which process was utilized. 

Doesn’t this disenfranchise Military Voters?

No.  In any of the Closed processes below, the hard working men and women who serve in our Armed Forces will either be represented by Precinct Delegates (Convention) or be casting direct votes (Closed Primary).   Furthermore, the State Committee will determine the Rules.  Nothing prevents this State Committee from making sure that whatever process is used has some protections for members of our armed services.  Any argument against rescinding the Open Primary rules based on disenfranchising Military voters is misdirected.

The last Committee worked on this – do we even have time to consider this?

The truth is many States have not yet finalized their process.  We have almost 5 months to work through adopting Rules if we rescind the Open Primary.  There remains plenty of time to discuss, examine, and propose new Rules, even for a Closed Primary.  The last Policy Committee did work on this issue, under perceived time frames that were shorter than what we have to work with now.  The bottom line is that we can respectfully appreciate what the previous committee did do, while taking the time to diligently craft rules that ensure Republicans are nominating Republicans.

Won’t Independents abandon the Republican Party, and vote for Democrats in Michigan if we don’t use an Open Primary?

Many Independents and Democrats have voted in Republican Primaries, only to abandon us in the General Election.  There is not one iota of proof that Independents, who by nature don’t want to be identified with one Party or the other, will refuse to support our nominee on the grounds we used a Closed Process to nominate.  File this argument under “red herring”.

Will Presidential campaigns just abandon Michigan if we don’t have an Open Primary?

Absolutely not.  Do they abandon Iowa, Nevada, Florida, South Carolina, Kansas, Minnesota, Louisiana, Utah, Tennessee, Idaho, North Dakota, or any of the other states that don’t historically use an Open Primary?  In fact, more than half the States/Territories that have delegates to allocate historically USE A CLOSED PROCESS.  So this is a straw-man argument.  Candidates will go where they think they can compete and earn delegates, whether Open, Modified, or Closed.

What type of system would be utilized if the Open Primary Rules were rescinded?

The options include a state-run Closed Primary, party-run Closed Primary, Open Caucus, Closed Caucus, or State Convention.

State Run Closed Primary – The legislature could pass voter registration and implement a closed run primary.  There are several legislators who believe in stopping Democrats from voting in our Primaries who are willing to sponsor the bill.  The Legislature was previously told that the State Committee wanted the primary as it currently stands, and that is why they did not move to close the Primary. 

Party Run Closed Primary – South Carolina runs a Party-run Closed Primary through the state Republican Party.  Each candidate is charged a fee of roughly $50,000 to have their name appear on the ballot, and this money helps the party fund the primary.  The fee is reasonable for campaigns who are forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for signatures in petition states such as Virginia.  This is an excellent list-building opportunity for the party because email addresses and permission to text can also be collected rather than just voter data as in a State Run Closed Primary.

Open Caucus – Iowa runs an Open Caucus system.  Any voter can come in on caucus night and vote.  The nature of the process discourages mass Democrat participation because you need to sit in the caucus room with a bunch of Republicans for hours on a cold winter night and listen to speeches and other discussion before voting.  The campaigns can be asked to pay a fee to the party for ballot access that is then used to pay the costs for the party of putting on the caucus.  The Republican Party of Iowa does this by charging campaigns a very large fee in return for the previous caucus-goers list.  This is an excellent list-building opportunity for the party because email addresses and permission to text can also be collected rather than just voter data as in a State Run Closed Primary.

Closed Caucus – Some states run a Closed Caucus system that only allows people who pre-register with the party to participate.  This is an excellent list-building opportunity for the party because email addresses and permission to text can also be collected rather than just voter data as in a State Run Closed Primary.

State Convention – Michigan utilized a State Convention process to allocate delegates in 1988.  The state convention inspires a higher level of activism and involvement among the grassroots base of the party and therefore the party ends up with a strong base going into the General Election.  Just as importantly, the competing campaigns spend money on growing the base of the party through field operations rather than on millions of dollars of negative ads attacking each other and driving up negatives on each other.  It is a massive advantage for the Democrats to have no negative ads run against each other, while Republicans run millions attacking each other in the lead-up to the General Election.  Virtually no negative TV ads would be run in Michigan if we use a convention process.  It still gives voters, including military, an indirect vote in the process because they voted to elect the Precinct Delegates in their neighborhoods.

What are the costs to the Party?

Any party driven system that is chosen could include a ballot access fee that would pay for the implementation of the system.

Why use a Closed Process?

We need to show Republican voters across the state that we are serious about finding a solution that prevents Democrats from influencing our nominating process.  Any effort to shutdown debate of this issue by this State Committee this year is a disservice to voters who care about Republicans picking the Republican nominee.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.  Regardless of which process you personally favor, we can all agree based on actual results, that a completely Open Primary system has allowed Democrats and liberal Independents to hand Primary victories to more moderate candidates over the last 15 years.  We have an obligation to show leadership, and at least evaluate all other options.  That starts with hitting the reset button by rescinding the previously adopted Rules.

Now, the Facebook debate:

Pittman wrote "I am sad to see my friend Jeff Sakwa being used like this. He deserves better and he deserves to be told the truth! Shame on you!" He then said "Jeff has been asked to make calls to influence votes to allow Democrats to vote in the Republican Primary. This is sick and Jeff deserves better!"

It hit the fan from there.

Stu Sandler As opposed to those being paid to support a caucus/convention?

Dennis Pittman Thanks Stu...I am not being paid to support anything nor am I happy about being lied to four years ago.

Tim Bos Aw, C'mon, Stu!
Those two have about as much in common as apples and pop tarts.
Republicans pushing to continue to allow Dems to vote in Republican primaries? Seriously?

And what does that say about the new Chair who was solidly immersed in the Conservative grassroots?

Stu Sandler What happened 4 years ago?
  • Dennis Pittman Jeff deserves better! We share the same profession, he is a good man and I am am totally against using him for political gain!

  • Stu Sandler What happened 4 years ago Dennis?

  • Tom McMillin i'm not being paid either.

  • Meshawn Maddock Apparently the closed primary process is appearing to be the new "proof" of genuine vs. impostor Republicans. Pay CLOSE attention to who supports open primaries people.
    The impostors need the lefties and democrats to keep them in power. Why on earth should we let democrats determine our new leaders??
    • Stu Sandler Still waiting to hear what happened 4 years ago?

    • Stu Sandler I guess nothing happened 4 years ago?

    • Tom McMillin what does it matter what happened 4 years ago? either allowing or not allowing non-republicans to influence GOP primaries at the ballot box is pretty simple.

    • Stu Sandler Dennis brought it up. I am asking what happened 4 years ago
  • Shane G Trejo I remember hearing that Sakwa would keep the administration sufficiently conservative. I guess it didn't quite work out that way, eh?

  • Dennis Pittman Stu, you don't want this to be public it wont help your reputation

  • Stu Sandler Dennis, say whatever you want.

  • Jeff Sakwa I AM NOT FOR CONVENTION DELEGATES ONLY VOTING FOR PRESIDENT. You guys know exactly what you are doing and I too believe Republican should have a closed primary which can only be done by the legislature. To shut over 900,000 voters out of the process is shameful. If we rescind the rules Dennis what are you specifically looking for. I too like and respect you but you know what this is all about. I am for all grassroots conservatives having a vote PERIOD. Nobody needs to tell me if I am conservative enough. We can pass a resolution and send it to the legislature if you want as it relates to a closed primary.
    • Jeff Sakwa Anybody can feel free to contact at any time and I will be happy to talk to them. I volunteered to make the phone calls after so many activists called me regarding a Convention Primary. Let the people vote. Call your legislators regarding this issue not State Committee.

    • Dennis Pittman Sounds Legit

    • Jeff Sakwa Hey, what a novel idea, tell people they cannot vote and then ask them to volunteer or write a check.

    • Jeff Sakwa Dennis if you want to have a conversation directly with me or go by heresay, that is up to you. I am here to answer anybody and everybody.

  • Meshawn Maddock The establishment ruling class will do and say whatever it takes to keep democrats included in the primary process. My husband is a genuine republican and I'm convinced that thousands of libs voted for Kowall because Matt was such a threat to them. Kowall is half Democrat and they'd rather have a half Dem than a 100% Republican. I also know that Snyder wouldn't be in office today if it weren't for an open primary process.

  • David Thomas Why have a primary for Republican candidates if it is not closed? Can some one explain the logic of an open primary by any political party?

  • Jeff Sakwa Meshawn, I am sick of people who think they are conservative and others are not. Win the election PERIOD. The voters voted against the sales tax increase yesterday. The Governor was for it. ELECTION OVER. Let's move and quit playing games and win races. I am against Hillary Clinton. Please join me and fighting to make sure she loses. I am NOT a CONSPIRACY THEORY PERSON.
    Meshawn Maddock I say let's focus on Michigan politics and get our Republican house in order first. Our biggest problem is we have impostor Republicans in Lansing voting with the Dems killing our party and causing GOP voters to stay home. They won't show up at the polls to vote against Hillary if they don't have faith in our party.
    Then, Banerian and McMillin go at it, along with some others:
    • Michael Banerian As someone who greatly respects and looks up to Jeff I am insulted that you'd imply that Jeff Sakwa's support can be bought. If you truly know him you'd understand the kind of integrity he has. Jeff Sakwa is NOT for sale, he is intelligent and can make a judgement call on these issues like any other normal person. Please do not presume to think that Jeff would carry himself in any other way. Jeff has decided to back the current rules, and because of that he is a traitor? He must have been bought? These are horrible accusations to be making, without any proof other than the fact he disagrees with you. If Jeff backs the current rules then I am confident his reasoning is valid and uncorrupted. It makes me sick that anyone would think otherwise.

      I am appalled at the way people are being treated regarding this issue. I had honestly been undecided on this issue, and I asked many questions of Tom McMillin on a status he posted about it last week. It was then implied that I was pushing someone else's talking points, merely because I expressed concern over this potential rule change. This has got to stop!

      Listen, I don't claim to know everything, and as a young person I have a lot to learn. However, when I see people being treated like this it makes me reluctant to speak my mind and ask questions; because if I disagree with someone on an issue they'll question my integrity or loyalty to our conservative cause. This is NO way to treat others. I am conservative, I've fought liberalism my whole life, and I fear the damage it is doing and will do to this country. Even now I'm nervous to post this because I know people will make false accusations of me being bought or being a liberal. I don't care who did what to you or your friend's, or what position you take on an issue, there is no excuse for this nonsense.

      In the end people are going to believe what they believe. I pray that somehow my words won't be twisted to tear my character and integrity apart...but I know that's what will happen...And that is so sad that in OUR party this is a given for speaking your mind.

      Please keep in mind that I'm truly not directing this at anyone on this thread; but with all do respect, if you are the kind of person that conducts yourself in this way, back off, you're a poison to this party no matter what stance you take.

    • Tom McMillin Mike - I suggest you put on your big boy pants if you want to hang out with adults - simply pointing out that your points aligned closely with the talking points of those wanting to make sure non- republicans vote in the next Prez primary is not something horrible.

    • Benjamin J. Soltis Tom - When someone accuses someone else of something, they don't do so because something they said lines up closely with something someone else said. There's usually a reason, and since most people do know where you stand on the issue, saying that Mike is playing the talking points of the opponent you seem to have created out of a difference of ideas does not give you the high ground to talk down to him (or any of the youth he represents) in terms of "big boy pants".

    • Tom McMillin I said it seemed like he goodness, sue me.

    • Michael Banerian Tom, I really resent the condescending tone. I have been nothing but respectful to you and any adult I speak to. Do not try and backtrack, I'm not an ignorant child, even if that's the way in which you chose to talk with me. I asked honest and fair questions, and you deliberately tried to discredit me by implying that I was pushing someone else's talking points, that I was someone else's mouthpiece. This is a nonsensical, and immature way to discuss an important issue, and certainly not a way in which an adult would conduct themself.

      You wonder why young people don't get more involved in our party? Why we are afraid to speak our mind? It's because of adults that try and shut us down with condescending comments like "put on your big boy pants". You know what you said to me on your status, and what it implied. Time to be an adult and own up to the implications your comment made, intentional or not.

      And since we are giving advice, the right way (adult way) to respond would have been to say "I'm sorry if there was a misunderstanding Michael, I don't want you to think I was making the implication that your comments/questions were anything but genuine". In which case I would have said "thank you for clearing that up, sorry for the misunderstanding".
    • Tom McMillin Mike, you said above that what I had posted, (that it "seemed like" you were pushing talking points) was so horrible that it has to stop. realize you posted that, right? I mean, if you weren't pushing them, just say, "no, I'm not, Tom" and move on. The whining above just surprised me. Sorry.

    • Michael Banerian I am well aware of the content of my own post Tom. I clearly explained that implying that I have some ulterior motive to my questions or that someone is feeding me talking points merely because I MIGHT disagree with you had to stop. Are you aware that your comment that said it seemed like I was pushing someone else's talking points carried these kind of severe implications? If not, then I refer you to my first response to your "big boy pants" comment in which I suggested a better way you could have responded.

    • Tom McMillin Severe? Really?

    • Michael Banerian Yes I believe so. You of all people understand that in politics implications made about someone's character or intentions (again, intentional or not) can carry severe consequences. So yes I believe that the implications made in your comment were severe. It may have been a misunderstanding, however the former understanding of your comment that I stated was perpetuated by your "big boy pants" comment.
    • Tom McMillin If you think that was severe, so severe that you needed to call me out and call for a halt, then you have a lot to learn, my friend.

    • Michael Banerian Tom, we could keep going in circles, with your condescending comments which lack the kind of substance someone of your position should be presenting, but I'm not interested in wasting more of my time with such talk. So I'll just leave you with this. You speak of me "whining", you condescend me because of my age, you speak of the need for me to "put on big boy pants", etc... Well I have some news for you, there is only one person between the two of us that is acting childish, is whining, and should put on those big boy pants...and it's not me. 
Jeff Sakwa With two people.... One of us always. Giving people the right to vote is serious business. Closing people out of the process is nothing short of disgusting especially when grassroots always complain as they should about being ignored. THE LEGISLATURE IS THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR HAVING A CLOSED REGISTERED PRIMARY which I am for. All this other stuff is into scaring people about the process. If anyone does their homework they will realize the truth. I got a bunch of people who contacted me all night agreeing with me last night. I am the one fielding the calls of the disgruntled grassroots people and I will fight for them.

  • Wendy S. Lamb Anderson Good people can disagree on this issue. To opine that Jeff Sakwa can be bought is insulting . Sorry Dennis Pittman it is not always about being used or selling out sometimes good folks can disagree.
    Like · Reply · 13 · 11 hrs
  • Gerry Hildenbrand Purity tests shrink our party and drive out good people who have a lot to offer our fellow Michiganders. Jeff and Dennis are good men. However, at the end of the day they can agree to disagree but still move forward electing Republicans.
    Like · Reply · 9 · 10 hrs
  • Rob Macomber Jared Maynard - I think I understand your question to be when did the party start crafting presidential rules before the actual presidential cycle?

    I don't know how it was done under Betsy, but in 04 it didn't really matter. For 2008, we started the r
    ules drafting in 2005. In 2012, the process began in early 2011. For 2016, it began in summer 2014. So it's varied. The rationale being that the longer you wait, the more conflict of interest issues arise. If we were writing rules now we'd have campaign legal counsels and paid staff/consultants gaming the rules for their candidate...much like Rand Paul's team is attempting to do now, advocating for a re-write.
    • Sean Bertolino Circling back to the original point of this thread, I fully agree with what Michael Banerian said above. Anybody that has spoken to Jeff Sakwa for more then five minutes knows exactly the kind of man he is. As a matter of fact, he (and Michael) is one of the first people I met when I dipped my toe in the GOP some four years ago. Took me out to dinner when only knowing me for an hour and thought nothing of it. Only wanted to get to know me as somebody who was brand new to politics. That is character which cannot be questioned. Since then, he has done other things to help me personally and professionally and I have had the honor to help him in his MSU Trustee runs and subsequent run for Co-Chair of our great State party. The MIGOP is much better with Jeff helping lead the way.

      Another point Michael made which I think is the elephant in the room (no pun intended), is the hesitation for people to speak their minds without fear of retribution. No matter which side of the aisle you see yourself as, deliberation and debate is essential to keep our Constitutional Republic moving. Nobody is talking about compromising principles either. Those that do need a reality check. I am a follower of Christ before being a Republican or a Democrat and I have that as my foundation - just as, it can be easily argued, the majority of the founders of our country and party did. Heaven forbid though somebody might have an alternative idea where they get immediately labeled as a traitor or even a liberal. It is that sort of fear and intimidation tactics that I feel some well meaning people have resorted to either because they have no argument to the contrary or are afraid they may lose their position. As said somewhere before, stand on your conservative principles and you will never lose.

      I have about ten years on Michael so certainly don't see myself as young person but I've only been active in the GOP for about two and half years. It was wonderful people in the Ingham County GOP (Mary, Norman, Yavonne and Linda) who took me in and welcomed me to help out. I have met and am friends with a lot of legislatures, state party folks, activists, and volunteers. I also am honored to serve on the 8th District Committee as Secretary with Tom McMillin in addition to serving on boards in my city of Williamston. I have done a lot in a short time and will be doing more as well. I am not interested in all of this division and combat though as, like Michael, I feel it turns off young people and new people alike. Perhaps it is time to address the differences in an adult way (read: respective) so that our party can be more unified. This is what Ronna and Jeff ran on and why they got our vote. I have faith this will happen in due time and we will be better for it.
    • Dennis Pittman Some are assuming I am attacking Jeff Sakwa, absolutely not true! Jeff and I just happen to disagree on an issue. I respect and admire Jeff as a person and a patriot. I fought hard to get Jeff and Ronna elected and we will fight hard side by side to elect a Republican President, whoever that may be.

 Jason Gillman at Right Michigan has authored a piece on this issue.

In it, he writes that:

 "We have an opportunity to clean up the way in which Republican candidates are selected.
This weekend the Michigan Republican State Committee will likely vote on a motion submitted by Tom McMillin to rescind the Open Primary rules that were passed last year.

Generally, many of us who are still in the GOP have decried the corrupting influence of those who could give a rats ass about the platform; a platform which is perfectly reasonable if it was honored.   A couple days ago, Tom wrote to state committee members:
Dear fellow State Committee members
 Attached is an FAQ regarding rescinding the Open Primary rules passed by the prior state committee.
 This year’s state committee, not last year’s, will administer next year’s primary.  We should not shrink back from that responsibility.  It’s clear that Republican activists are tired of people outside our party influencing the primary process, especially when casting votes.

I think it would be wise and healthy for us to reset the table, discuss and debate the options and have the current state committee come to a conclusion.
Tom McMillin
8th District Chair
I don’t have a copy of the FAQ at this time, but have learned to trust McMillin’s instinct on items like this. (see faq's ABOVE)

And frankly, we’ve seen the damaging effects of the corrupting influence.

Grassroots Republican conservatives across the state should for once be united in their opposition to the open Primary process. And right now this should not be difficult.

We stopped Proposal 1 by telling the establishment that we didn’t want higher taxes. Now the grassroots can stop Democrats from voting in the Republican Primary by encouraging the Policy Committee and the Michigan Republican State Committee to rescind their Open Primary rules.

numbersThe first vote will be THIS Saturday in the Policy Committee, of whether to send the McMillin motion to the State Committee and allow the State Committee to vote.

As delegates might recall, several members of the Michigan Republican State Committee, and Policy Committee, campaigned for our support in District Caucuses on the basis of repealing the Open Primary and finally giving Michigan a Closed Process.

Unfortunately, some of those people who asked for the grassroot support are now getting weak in the knees under pressure from the typical bad actors. As usual, readers and authors will closely follow this matter and take note of people who vote for the open primary are held accountable the next time they run for party office.

Please contact the Policy Members of the Michigan Republican State Committee and let them know that conservatives expect them to vote on rescinding the Open Primary rules, and certainly don’t block the State Committee from having a right to vote on this matter."

Stay tuned...

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at 


Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

1 comment:

  1. So you let Republicans and some Democrats choose our nominee or you let John Yob choose em. The burden of proof is on Tom McMillin to prove his idea is better as he wants to change the rules.