Missouri residents can be forgiven for harboring a twinge of jealousy toward their fellow Americans in New Hampshire. And South Carolina.. And Floridia.
All those states have meaningful presidential primaries.
Not so in Missouri. Yes, there will be a primary on Feb. 7, costing taxpayers several million dollars (the state’s 2008 presidential primary cost $7 million).
But the results of the Republican primary — the only one with any suspense — won’t play a role in how the Missouri Republican Party selects delegates to attend the nominating convention in Tampa. That will be determined in a party caucus scheduled March 17.
How Missouri worked its way into this predicament is a long story. It begins with the Republican National Committee telling states they would lose half their delegates if they selected them too early. The tale continues with the bumbling inability of Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to change a state statute and schedule the state primary on a date that meets RNC approval.
At this point, the Missouri Republican Party controls the story line. The state cannot cancel its legally required primary. Ballots already are being printed. The party, however, could change its mind and announce that the primary’s results will determine delegate selection.
The RNC insists it will stand by its promise to cut the delegate count in half for states that select delegates in early primaries. “Rules are rules,” a spokesman said.
But losing half of their delegates doesn’t seem to bother New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan and Arizona. Those states intend to select delegates based on the results of primaries scheduled in violation of RNC rules.
Missouri selects 52 GOP delegates out of a total of 2,286 at the national convention. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to become the party’s nominee. Clearly, the course of history will not be altered if Missouri’s delegate count is cut to 26.
"The party has made keeping a full delegate strength at the national convention a priority," said Jonathon Prouty, communications director for the Missouri Republican Party, defending the caucus approach.
They'll be the ones waving flags and wearing funny hats at the convention. And the taxpayers of Missouri will pay plenty for the fun.
Copyright the Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.