Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday signed a bill moving the state’s Republican and Democratic presidential primaries earlier, to Jan. 15. The move could start a chain reaction by forcing Iowa and New Hampshire—traditionally the first states to pick among the candidates—to move their voting to early January 2008, or even December 2007.

At least seven states are considering flouting party rules and moving their primaries earlier. The Democratic Party recently threatened to bar Florida from sending delegates to the summer nominating convention because state legislators scheduled primary voting for Jan. 29. All leading Democratic candidates promised not to campaign in the rogue states ahead of their votes.

The political parties have lost all sense of fairness, said The Detroit News in an editorial. “All Michigan is asking for is an opportunity to weigh in on the nominees before the race is all but decided.” The primary processes as the rules define them “squelch competition” and “protect the monopoly of Iowa and New Hampshire in determining who gets the early momentum.”

The nation has been seized in an epidemic of “state envy,” said Donna Brazile, a member of the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee, in The Miami Herald. The states—including Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, Wyoming, and Florida—that used to vote later “crave the media attention and financial resources that holding an early presidential contest draws.” The system needs to be reformed, but remember that the parties are out to pick the best national candidate, and they have the right to decide how to do it.

That’s where New Hampshire fits in, said The Manchester, N.H., Union Leader in an editorial. The state’s system has a “unique ability to put candidates in direct, personal contact with knowledgeable voters and to give lesser-known candidates a fighting chance at the nomination.” Let’s hope that’s why the candidates threw their weight behind New Hampshire and Iowa. It would be depressing to think they did it because we happen “to go first and they already have sunk costs here.”