Thursday, January 28, 2021

Missouri House Bill Would Eliminate Presidential Primary

A bill filed earlier this month in the Missouri House of Representatives would repeal the requirement to conduct a presidential primary in the Show-Me state. 

First term Representative Adam Schwadron (R-106th, St. Charles) on January 6 introduced HB 680. The legislation would strip out two separate sections of Missouri election law referring to the scheduling and conduct of a presidential preference primary election, thus eliminating the contest in future cycles. 

While there were a spate of Republican state parties that in 2019 canceled presidential primaries (or caucuses) in order to conduct precinct caucuses instead, those actions are more common than a 2024 cancelation in Missouri would be. What prompted state parties in Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina to make those moves was that President Trump was running virtually unopposed for the Republican nomination. On the one hand, the maneuvering was viewed as a means of protecting the president. However, none of the prospective competition to Trump was ever really viable in a party that continued to overwhelmingly back the president. Through that lens, the actions were fairly normal for parties with incumbents seeking renomination largely unopposed. Often it is merely a cost-savings change. 

But Schwadron's bill in Missouri does not fit that trend. Missouri has shifted in the 21st century from general election bellwether to reliably red state for Republican candidates. And canceling -- or potentially canceling -- a presidential primary breaks 1) with a trend toward more presidential primaries in the post-reform era and 2) with a trend that only sees contrary movement on that front during uncontested cycles. 2024 is not shaping up to be an uncontested cycle on the Republican side. 

...unless former President Trump jumps into the race and is able to simultaneously ward off any viable competition. [Alternatively, this could be a means through which to aid a presidential bid from favorite son, Sen. Josh Hawley (R) should he opt to run and make it to the point on the calendar when hypothetical Missouri caucuses are held. see Rand Paul and Kentucky in 2015. That plan did not work.] Even then, this would be an atypical move by a Republican legislator much less in an early-ish Republican primary state. 

A link to this legislation has been added to the 2024 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

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