GOP Improperly Altered Michigan Rules, Judge Finds

Associated Press

A circuit judge ruled Friday that Michigan Republicans supporting presidential candidate Pat Robertson wrongly altered state GOP rules, shutting out backers of Vice President George Bush from the state’s delegate selection process.

Kent County Circuit Judge George Boucher’s ruling would revoke a change in party rules adopted in September by the Republican State Committee, which is now dominated by backers of Robertson and Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.).

If the decision survives an appeal, it would give Bush a clear shot at gaining a majority of Michigan’s 77 delegates to the 1988 Republican National Convention.


‘Unfair to Change Rules’

“There seems to be no question here that state party rules are subordinate to national party rules” under state law, Boucher said. “It is simply unfair to change the rules unilaterally in the middle of the game.”

David McKeague, who represented the pro-Bush forces that filed the suit, said the state committee had no choice but to comply with Boucher’s opinion.

A spokesman for the state Republican Party, Rusty Hills, said Michigan GOP Chairman E. Spencer Abraham had no immediate comment. Lori Packer, Robertson’s state campaign director, said the campaign’s attorneys were looking into the possibility of an appeal and added: “I’m really surprised that we lost on all counts. I think it’s appealable and winnable.”

Previously, winners of GOP primaries for state and local elective offices were told they would be automatically given at-large seats for the county GOP conventions.

Shut Out Bush Supporters

The 101-member state committee voted Sept. 15 to bar those 1,200 nominees from automatic convention seats, effectively shutting out a large segment of Bush supporters from Michigan’s complex and prolonged system of selecting presidential delegates.

Delegates to those county conventions will select representatives to the Jan. 29-30 state convention, where the nation’s first delegates to the 1988 national convention in New Orleans will be picked.