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Politicians Attempt to Demystify the Caucus System Before Tuesday's Primary

Missouri politicians answer voter questions about the Feb. 7 "non-binding" primary and the March caucus. Missouri voters have not had a presidential caucus since 1996.

State Representative Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) held an informational meeting Saturday night at Town and Country's to explain the upcoming Missouri primary and following Republican caucus.

The election, unlike previous years, is not binding—instead a caucus will determine how Missouri’s 52 GOP delegates will vote at the Republican national convention this year.

(Tell Patch if you're voting Tuesday in the poll at the end of this article.)

Missouri Democrats do not need to hold a caucus, as their candidate is President Barack Obama, who running for re-election. They will hold “mass meetings” on March 29 in order to select their delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

In 2010, the Republican National Committee (RNC) set a rule that only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada would be allowed to have a primary or caucus before March 6, 2012. Any other state would be punished by losing half its delegates to the national convention. According to CBS News, these rules were put in place to allow more voters to participate in the nomination process.

Unfortunately, Missouri has been holding its primary in February since 2002. In April 2011, the Missouri General Assembly passed a bill to move the date of the primary to March, but Governor Jay Nixon vetoed that bill in July. The Missouri House and Senate were unable to agree upon another bill to change the primary’s date before the RNC’s deadline of Oct. 1.

Robert Knodell, the political director of the Missouri Republican Party, said that voters can and should vote at the Feb. 7 primary to voice their opinion on who should be their nominee for president. However, he warned that the caucus is not obligated to use that vote to decide who the delegates ultimately select as their nominee.

The Caucus System

Knodell and later guest speaker Rick Hardy, a professor of political science, urged the audience to attend their local caucus in order to have their opinions heard.

  • The caucus is open to the public.
  • Township and county caucuses will decide who will serve as delegates at the congressional district conventions held on April 21 and also for the state convention held on June 2.
  • Each of the eight congressional district conventions will choose three of their members and one alternate to send to the national Republican convention.
  • Delegates at the state convention will vote on who to send to the national convention as Missouri’s “at large” delegates.
Scott February 06, 2012 at 06:07 PM
There are a couple of facts you may want to correct in this article. 1. The Missouri GOP has held both a caucus and a primary in the past. I caucused for a presidential candidate in 2008, so it's incorrect to say there hasn't been a caucus since 1996. 2. Until the 9th Congressional district is dissolved next year, MO has 9 districts, not 8. That's important because the proceedings of this election will take place under the 9 district layout.
Denise Bertacchi February 06, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Scott: Thanks for your questions! I called the Missouri GOP in Jefferson City to double check my facts, and here's what I can tell you. 1) You are right, we have a caucus every four years. HOWEVER, when we have a binding primary, the caucus is required to vote according to the results of the primary. The past caucuses have been choosing the delegates but not the nominee for president. 2) The Missouri GOP is using the "new" congressional map, so there will be 8 districts. The new maps have been approved by the state legislature.
Dennis D. Broadbooks February 17, 2012 at 11:13 AM
@Denise: You have your facts correct on both counts!

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