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      Democrats critical of costly primary

      In August, Michigan leaders voted to select their 2012 presidential convention delegates with a closed primary election.

      Republican leaders said the process was more inclusive than a convention or caucus.

      Some local democrats have a different opinion, saying republicans want to hold an election so the cost will fall on the state and not the Republican Party.

      ??We (democrats) are only on the ballot because the republicans want the state to pay for the election rather than their own,?? said Grand Traverse County Democratic Party Co-Chairman Ross Richardson.

      Republican representatives sharply disagree.

      ??Democrats are going to say we do this because it costs money...they of course would do the same thing if they were in our position. So I think it is kind of a hollow complaint,?? said State Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-104 District.

      While the Democratic Party is on the February ballot, party leaders said it will have no influence on which delegates they send to the national convention.

      ??The Democratic Party, we are not sending delegates based on the February 28 primary. We are selecting delegates starting with the caucuses on May 5,?? said Richardson. ??The caucus will be paid for by the Democratic Party.??

      For republicans, May is to far away.

      Party representatives said the reason they chose to hold the primary in February is so the state is still relevant when the election roles around.

      ??Michigan needs to be relevant. Regardless of which party is in charge, we need to make sure Michigan is deciding who the next president of the United States is,?? Schmidt said.

      According to state records, Michigan has only held 11 primaries in the state's history.

      In the past seven elections, local governments have been reimbursed for election costs.

      ??When the presidential preference primary was reestablished in 1972, the legislature enacted a law stipulating that the local jurisdictions would be reimbursed for any costs associated with the conduct of the primary,?? state records said.

      In 2008, local units of government were reimbursed almost $10 million from the state.

      The state did not hold a primary in 2004.