Democrats pull out of Mich.

The Baltimore Sun

Half of the Democratic presidential candidates withdrew from Michigan's Jan. 15 primary yesterday, leaving Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York as the only top-tier candidate still on the ballot and effectively ending Michigan's hopes of cutting in near the head of the primary lineup.

"We're very disappointed," Michigan Democratic spokesman Jason Moon said. "It's just another example of how damaging the Iowa and New Hampshire monopoly is to the nominating process."

Moon said the party had made no decision on whether to try to postpone the primary.

The withdrawals further roiled an already unstable primary and caucus calendar, with some states - including New Hampshire - still uncertain when they will vote.

Currently, the Iowa caucuses are set for Jan. 14 and Nevada caucuses for Jan. 19. The Democratic National Committee has recommended that New Hampshire hold its primary Jan. 22, and the South Carolina primary is scheduled for Jan. 29.

The Democratic state parties in Michigan and Florida decided earlier this year to flout DNC rules that allowed only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to hold a presidential primary or caucus before Feb. 5.

Republicans are facing a similar revolt, but none of the Republican candidates asked to be dropped from the Michigan ballot.

The DNC responded to the moved-up primary dates by threatening to strip Michigan and Florida (its primary is now scheduled for Jan. 29) of their convention delegates.

Most Democratic candidates signed a pledge promising to campaign only in the four DNC-sanctioned contests.

But yesterday, Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson formally asked the Michigan secretary of state to drop their names from the ballot by the 4 p.m. deadline.

The other four contenders - front-runner Clinton, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska - will be listed as candidates.

Kucinich issued a statement late yesterday that his campaign also requested to be dropped, but Chesney said the campaign failed to properly include a signed statement by Kucinich, so the affidavit was rejected.

Scott Martelle writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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