With President Barack Obama’s announcement Monday that he would seek a second term, the 2012 election cycle is officially under way.
The president’s announcement, hardly a surprise but 20 months ahead of the presidential balloting, locally heralds a busy and perhaps confusing 2011:
• Not all races from the November 2010 election have been settled yet.
• There are local elections scheduled for May, August and November.
• The question of when Michigan’s presidential primary will be held — late this year but most likely in 2012 — remains unclear.
• The president is running for re-election during a once-every-20-years phenomenon where the presidential election coincides with new congressional and legislative district boundaries across the country that are drawn every 10 years following the U.S. Census. Those boundaries also have not been established yet.
In Michigan, the two major parties pick their presidential candidates by primary or caucus.
Republicans and Democrats picked their presidential candidates in Michigan by caucus in 2004. In 2000, Republicans held a primary while Democrats used a caucus.
Early in 2008, both parties picked their nominees in primaries.
But in the 2008 election, Michigan Democrats forfeited all their convention delegates by jumping ahead in the state schedule of primaries set by the national parties while Republicans forfeited half of theirs.
Last August, a committee of the Republican National Committee recommended that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina hold their primaries in February. States who give presidential delegates as a proportion of the vote could schedule theirs in March and winner-take-all states could schedule theirs in April.
The Democratic National Committee agrees with Republicans on the early primary states and wants to give bonus delegates to states who hold their primaries later in the year and who “cluster” their primaries with other states.
With Obama the incumbent this time around, it’s not expected to be an issue, unlike in 2008 when Obama was in a pitched nominating battle with Hillary Clinton.
State Democrats also say the question of how to select their nominee — most certainly Obama — is up in the air.
“From our perspective, no decisions have been made yet,” said John Tramontana, spokesman for the Michigan Democratic Party.
It’s unclear what the Michigan Republican Party will do since there are at least a dozen names floating out there as potential challengers to Obama.
The 2010 election created one race that still needs to be settled as candidates moved to higher offices, then were appointed to fill vacancies, which created other vacancies.
Yet to be 100 percent determined is the county commission district representing Highland, Springfield, Holly and Rose townships.
That seat opened up when Republican Ruth Johnson, the Oakland County clerk, was elected Michigan Secretary of State.
Bill Bullard, who won re-election as the county commissioner in that district, was appointed clerk to fill her spot.
The Republican-controlled county commission then appointed Bob Hoffman of Highland to fill Bullard’s county commission seat until a special primary could be held May 3 followed by a special general election in August.
In the May 3 primary, Hoffman faces challengers Carolyn Belaen and Brian Howe, both from Highland. The winner will face Democrat Mark Venie of Davisburg in August, with the winner filling the remainder of the county commission seat’s two-year term.
May 3 Election
Voters in Bloomfield Hills will pick from four nonpartisan candidates for three seats on the City Commission for two-year terms.
On the ballot are Patricia Hardy, Michael D. McCready, Connie Salloum and Michael Zambricki.
In the Lake Orion School District, 13 are seeking four four-year terms on the school board.
On the ballot are Mark G. Brackon of Oxford, and Terrie Cambell, Nanci Canine, Joseph Knight, Terry E. Lang, Birgit McQuiston, Connie Meech, John Michalik, Melissa Miller, Daniel Myslakowski, Deborah Porter, Kelly Weaver and Janet Wolverton, all from Orion.
Voters will also pick school board members for Fenton, Goodrich, Grand Blanc and Warren districts that have small portions of their districts in Oakland County.
There are also tax questions or charter amendments in Bloomfield Hills, Clawson, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Southfield, Clawson School District, Grand Blanc Schools District and Northville School District.
Information about the May 3 election is available online at www.oakgov.com/clerkrod/elections/.
The process of drawing new boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts is underway. No one knows what the 2012 boundaries will look like, except that they’re likely to favor Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature.
Likewise, in Oakland County, new county commission districts are likely to favor Democrats since Democrats control the five-person committee drawing the new boundaries.
Contact Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @crummc and on Facebook.