WHAT OTHERS SAY: Don't settle for a meaningless, costly primary

Monday, October 17, 2011 | 10:55 a.m. CDT; updated 11:34 a.m. CDT, Monday, October 17, 2011

Do something right.

We urge state lawmakers to cancel Missouri’s presidential primary and spare Missourians from spending millions of dollars for what would be a meaningless popularity contest.

The special legislative session remains in limbo and in danger of accomplishing none of its assigned tasks.

Its primary purpose was to act on an economic development bill. Gov. Jay Nixon called the extraordinary session after Republican legislative leaders boasted an agreement at news conferences throughout the state.

Their boast, obviously, was premature.

Negotiations have stalled, and legislative leaders threaten to avoid considering any other special session topics until a breakthrough is reached on the jobs measure.

Holding other measures hostage could cost Missouri residents dearly.

State law now requires Missouri to hold its 2012 presidential primary in February.

The early date, however, runs afoul of national Republican Party guidelines, which carry a penalty of loss of half the state’s delegates.

Lawmakers during the regular session changed the date as part of a broader elections bill wisely vetoed by the governor.

After the special session bill to move the primary back to March stalled in the state Senate on Sept. 14, state Republican Party leaders decided to replace the primary with a caucus process that will begin in March.

As a consequence, the February primary — if it remains law — must be held, but will be both costly and meaningless.

Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer moved last week to release the hostage primary measure.

He said legislators this week would consider terminating the primary, which he estimated would save the state between $6-$8 million. He added, “and then we will make a motion to go to conference with the House, to try to see if we can iron out the differences” in the economic development stalemate.

Action to terminate the primary is the least lawmakers can do during the special session.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.

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