The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 2, 2012

$8 million Missouri primary irrelevant in choosing candidates

Caucuses today in Iowa will launch the Republican presidential nomination season, but Missouri voters will wait for more than a month — Feb. 7 — to weigh in on the candidates. The state’s presidential preference primary is Feb. 7, and the Republican caucuses start March 17.

Even then, it appears that voters’ choices in a primary that will cost taxpayers $8 million will have little relevance.

National party rules dictate that only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada can hold presidential nominating contests before March 6. States that violate that rule have been threatened with the loss of half of their delegates to the national conventions. Other penalties, such as fewer guest passes to the conventions, also have been considered.

Missouri law mandates that a presidential primary be held. During the regular session in 2011, the General Assembly passed legislation (Senate Bill 282) that called for moving the date of the presidential primary to March to comply with the rules of the national Republican and Democratic parties.

Gov. Jay Nixon said he supported that change. But, the bill also contained provisions that would have eliminated write-in candidates in many municipal elections and would have imposed costs for taxpayers to hold special elections. Because of those additional provisions, Nixon vetoed the bill. So, the primary remains scheduled for Feb. 7.

While state law sets up the primary, it does not say that the results must be used to assign delegates for particular candidates. It says only that the results of the primary must be reported to the state parties. The responsibility of selecting delegates to the national conventions is left up to the parties. That is to be done at caucuses around the state, and ultimately at the parties’ district and state conventions.

County caucuses are scheduled for March 17. Participants will select delegates to the congressional district and state conventions, where delegates will be chosen to attend the national conventions.

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