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Ron Nehring

Santorum’s Michigan “Sneak Attack” Validates CRP’s Closed Presidential Primary

In 2007 a small group of liberal Republicans attempted to pressure me and my fellow state party leaders to open California’s Republican primary to non-Republican voters.  Such a move has been tried in the past by those who want to create a playing field tilted away from conservative candidates.

Despite the pressure, threats, and even clumsy attempts to get some Republican donors involved, we refused.  Predictably, liberal Sacramento pundits criticized the California Republican Party for its lack of enlightened thinking by keeping the Republican primary…Republican.

Fast forward to last night’s vote in Michigan.  Anxious to reverse his slide in the polls, Rick Santorum used robocalls encouraging  non-Republicans to vote in the Republican primary to try and pull an upset over Mitt Romney.  Unlike California, Michigan invites such game-playing by permitting non-Republicans to participate in the Republican nominating contest.  Santorum, who is I’m sure anathema to every single person involved in the failed 2007 attempt to open the California Republican primary, used the open primary almost pull out an upset.

Of course, the liberals whose real agenda is more liberal nominees rarely if ever acknowledge this as their real purpose.  Instead, they argue that independent voters who would cast ballots in the Republican primary would be more likely to vote for the Republican nominee in November.  It’s a logical argument, but for the fact that we already have been allowing non-Republicans to vote in the Republican primary for every other partisan office in the state, from Governor on down to State Assembly.

Did allowing non-Republicans to vote in the Republican primaries for Governor or Senator in 2010 have any appreciable benefit to Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina?  No.  So while the benefits to candidates remain entirely vaporware and without any evidence, the opportunity for mischief, as demonstrated in Michigan, is clear.

The next time liberals attempt to open California’s Republican primary to such manipulation, my two-word response: Rick Santorum.

If you’re interested in seeing who was for, and against, opening California’s Republican primary in 2007, click here for this KABC story.