Thursday, August 8, 2019

Kentucky Republicans Change Presidential Caucus Process

It is not clear yet whether Kentucky Republicans will hold caucuses again in 2020 or revert to the May presidential primary the party has traditionally used for allocating national convention delegates.  FHQ's repeated attempts to contact the party were either ignored or turned away.

In any event, there are some tea leaves to read that point in the direction of the Republican Party of Kentucky (RPK) using the caucus/convention format again in 2020. For starters, the party adopted rules changes to the caucus section of the RPK's rules added in 2015. Back at the June 15 meeting of the RPK state central committee the rules were changed for 2020. The party not only changed the date of the contest, but altered the method of delegate allocation as well. And the former made the latter possible. First, the date of the caucuses was moved back on the calendar from the first Saturday in March. In 2020, if Republicans in the Bluegrass state hold caucuses, the event will fall on the third Saturday in March.

That new position on the calendar allowed the party to then trade out the proportional allocation method used in 2016 for a winner-take-all method in the current cycle. Under Republican National Committee rules, no contest before March 15 can allocated delegates in a winner-take-all fashion without having a winner-take-all threshold (no less than 50 percent of the vote) in place. RPK skipped that, opting for a later date -- March 21 -- and a true winner-take-all plan with no trigger.

Those would be inconsequential rules changes if the RPK ultimately decided to use the May state-run presidential primary for allocating delegates instead. Why go to the trouble? That does not confirm that Republicans in Kentucky will use the caucuses again, but it certainly points in that direction.

It should additionally be noted that in 2015 when the party added the caucuses language to the party rules, that August state central committee meeting was the setting in which the decision to use the caucuses for delegate allocation in 2016 was made as well. Now, whether that same protocol was utilized at the June 2019 meeting is unclear. But if the pattern in 2015 was the same in 2019, then the party will be using a winner-take-all caucus on March 21 of next year.

Kentucky, then, potentially fits the pattern of state parties making rules changes that might benefit the president's renomination outlook.

FHQ will add the new date of the Kentucky Republican caucuses to the 2020 presidential primary calendar, but with an asterisk until the move is confirmed with the party.

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