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How Did Missouri Get a Caucus and a Primary That Doesn’t Count?

How did Missouri get a caucus and a primary that doesn’t count? There is no short answer, but here is how it happened.

Tomorrow is the Presidential primary election in Missouri – but it doesn’t count.  Instead, caucuses that start on March 17th will select which GOP Presidential candidate Missouri backs. How did this come about? There is no short answer, and the answer will probably not satisfy anyone.

In 2010, the Republican National Committee (RNC) set new rules for the 2012 race that would punish any state, other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada, that had a primary or caucus before March 6, 2012. Any state that had a contest before that date would lose half its delegates at the national convention – meaning the state’s vote only counted for half of what it would otherwise. The RNC’s goal was to combat the trend of front-loading the primaries in which states moved them earlier and earlier.

The problem was that Missouri’s Presidential primary election was set for early February, as it had been since 2002 when the date was last changed. Unless something changed, the RNC would punish Missouri by stripping the state of half of its delegates.

In April 2011, the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill that would move the date of the Presidential primary. The new date for the election would be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March, which was the earliest date allowed by the RNC. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support: in the House by a vote of 137 to 11 and in the Senate 31 to 2.

In July, though, Governor Nixon vetoed the bill. There were two other election related changes, dealing with write-in candidates and special elections that the Governor objected to and killed the bill. Legislative leaders were upset because Gov. Nixon had not told anyone beforehand that he objected to these provisions.

When the General Assembly went into special session in early September, the change of the primary was on the agenda. The special session in 2011 did not go smoothly, however. In the first three days of the special session, the House passed the change by a vote of 147 to 2 and sent the bill to the Senate where it stopped. The House and the Senate were in disagreement over another bill and the Senate declined to address the election issue.

The RNC set a deadline of October 1st for states to let the national party know when their nominating contest would be. With the primary bill stuck in the Senate, the Missouri Republican Party (MRP) announced on September 30th that it would use a caucus to pick the GOP nominee in 2012. The party set the date for the first round of the caucus on March 17th so as to avoid punishment by the RNC.

In mid-October, the state Senate debated a number of proposals. There was one that would move the primary up to January, one would push it back to March (the original plan), and another would abolish it. Since the primary now would be a beauty contest and would not be binding, there was an effort to eliminate the primary in 2012 to save the state of Missouri roughly $7 million. The Senate voted to skip the primary, but the vote tied at 16 to 16, which failed to pass, thus keeping the primary in addition to the caucus.

Missouri’s primary is February 7th, but the Republican Presidential nominee will be selected at the March 17th caucus – if you are interested in the race then go to your caucus.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dennis Broadbooks February 09, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Below I'm listing the direct link to plug in your address to obtain your polling place information on the Vote Missouri web page. This will then take you to a page showing what polling place location you'll be voting in IF there's an election coming up within the next six weeks. Click on the link "View Your Current Elected Officials" & you'll then be directed to another page listing all your current elected officials all the way down to the township level. There your township will be listed under the "District" heading. http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/pollingplacelookup/ As far as finding out WHERE your township's March 17th caucus meeting will be held it is technically up to the committeman & committewoman of each township to publicize that event. A notice of each local township caucus meeting is to be published in a minimum of one newspaper of general circulation in the caucus area no less than 15 days prior to the date of March 17th. It's very possible the information will be made available prior to that date of March 2nd & when it becomes "official" I'll be glad to provide it here for Patch readers. Alternately you may check on your own by going to the link below & check periodically for caucus location updates on the MO GOP web site. St Louis County is currently not showing as locations are still yet to be determined in many townships. http://www.mogop.org/2012stateconvention/caucuses/
Kelley Woerther February 10, 2012 at 12:00 AM
The Wild Horse Township will hold their caucus in the community room at the Schnuck's Wildwood Crossing at 10 am on Saturday March 17, 2012.
Julie Brown Patton February 10, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Thanks, Kelley Woerther, good to know for schedules.
L. Unnerstall February 10, 2012 at 03:45 AM
"In July, though, Governor Nixon vetoed the bill. There were two other election related changes, dealing with write-in candidates and special elections that the Governor objected to and killed the bill. Legislative leaders were upset because Gov. Nixon had not told anyone beforehand that he objected to these provisions." Remember this come election time folks. Our Governor cost us taxpayers almost 8 million dollars -
John Pellerito February 21, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Basically, vote to hold the primary was tie at the Senate level in order to pass the bill. The lieutenant governor ( whose only legislative duty is to break ties in the Senate ), did not show up and the bill went through for lack of tie -breaking vote .

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