Will Kraus PictureFebruary 2, 2012 – Missouri will have two chances this year to affect the presidential race, but, up until now, the controversy surrounding how we got to this point has overshadowed the race itself. Keep in mind that state races for president are centered on how to select delegates to the national conventions and every state has a different system in place. Those delegates ultimately decide who the party’s nominee will be for the November ballot.

Next Tuesday, Feb. 7, Missouri will hold its presidential primary. February 7 is the date currently set in statute for the primary election, and it was the date we used in 2008. However, the national parties determine the primary schedule, and, this year, the Republican Party threatened to remove half the delegates from any state who had a primary or caucus before their allotted date.

As a result, last year, after considerable discussion in the Senate, the Missouri legislature moved our primary election to March 7.  Unfortunately, the governor vetoed that bill, leaving the state in a no-win situation.  Missouri had to decide to either hold a February Republican primary and lose half its delegates to the convention, or come up with another way to select its delegates.

Since it is the state party that ultimately decides how to select delegates, it stepped in and decided to hold caucuses on March 17.  Those caucuses will now officially select the delegates to the convention.  The caucuses will be held on a Saturday in each county, and each county party will determine exactly how to pick the delegates it sends to the state party convention.

After the party made the decision to go to the caucuses, the legislature made an attempt to remove the February election to save taxpayers around $7 million.  Some senators, however, argued that we could still have an early impact on the race even with a non-binding primary and, on a tie vote, the bill failed, leaving the February election in place.

The end result is that Missouri voters can now speak twice.  You can go to the polls next Tuesday and vote for a presidential candidate.  All but one of the remaining candidates is on the ballot.  The results will not choose delegates, but will certainly be discussed in the media.  At least one candidate has already made a trip to Missouri to campaign for the election, and he plans one more.  In addition, you can attend the Jackson County caucus on March 17.  More information will be coming on that event, and I will pass it along here when it is available.

Please feel free to contact the 8th Senatorial District’s Capitol office with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and trying to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 573-751-1464, or e-mail at will.kraus@senate.mo.gov.

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