Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2012 Missouri Presidential Primary Will Not Be Eliminated

The Missouri Senate today adjourned its special session sine die, effectively ending any chance of either moving or eliminating altogether the Show Me state presidential primary in 2012. As it stands, the 2012 Missouri presidential primary on February 7 will be non-binding in terms of its impact on the allocation of delegates to either party's convention. Missouri Republicans have already put in place plans to hold caucuses starting on March 17 as a means of allocating the party's delegates. Show Me state Democrats have yet to formally switch to caucuses but would face the same sort of penalty -- a 50% reduction in the number of delegates to the Democratic National  Convention in Charlotte -- if it opted to decide its delegate selection through the non-compliant February 7 primary.

This has all arisen due to the failure of the legislature to come to any consensus in a special session as to what to do with the presidential primary once Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed the original plan.1 The House passed a bill moving the primary to March with little or no difficulty, but the plan got bogged down in the state Senate. The upper chamber could not reach any agreement on what to do -- whether it meant eliminating the primary or moving it to a later and compliant date. That last ditch effort to eliminate the primary and save the state $8 million will die in the House committee to which it was referred before. The Senate will not get to it during this calendar year. The legislature does reconvene in January and could at that time -- prior to the primary itself -- eliminate the primary, but it is unclear if that will actually be a consideration at that point.

For future cycles, this means that -- as FHQ stated earlier -- Missouri will start out at the front of the line on the 2016 presidential primary calendar. [Yes, some of us are already looking at that.] For those keeping track, the current law would place the Missouri presidential primary on February 2 -- the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February. Mark your calendars accordingly.

1 The governor vetoed the bill passed during the regular session earlier this year not because of the shift of the presidential primary from February 7 to March 6, but because the bill also contained a provision stripping the governor of his power to make appointments to fill US Senate and other statewide office vacancies.

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