Missouri political parties prepare for life after the presidential primary

Democrat and Republican Parties
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(Missouri Independent) – The presidential nominating process began on Monday in Iowa, where former President Donald Trump secured a significant victory in the Republican caucuses.

Missouri’s involvement is scheduled for March, with the Republican caucuses set for March 2 and the Democratic party-run primary on March 23.

From 2000 to 2020, Missouri hosted a state-run presidential primary. However, in 2022, the law authorizing the primary was repealed, and attempts to reinstate it in the following year were unsuccessful due to factional gridlock in the state Senate.

In an interview with The Independent, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft expressed his preference for a primary. He noted that the system Missouri will now use requires voters to actively engage with their local party.

“Individuals who want to nominate presidential candidates from Missouri will need to become involved with the local party and its processes,” Ashcroft stated.

In the Republican race, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley performed well enough in Iowa to continue their campaigns to the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy withdrew from the race after placing fourth in Iowa.

The Democratic nominating contest begins on February 3 in South Carolina. President Joe Biden, running for a second term, faces no significant challengers. However, there are some lesser-known candidates, including self-help author Marianne Williamson and U.S. Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota.

The determination of which candidates will be eligible for delegates from Missouri rests solely with the respective parties, according to Ashcroft.

“I have no control over how the Republican, Democratic, or Libertarian parties select their presidential nominees from Missouri,” he clarified.

Both parties have established a 15% threshold for candidates to receive delegates. The selection process involves voter caucus meetings, but there are notable differences between the parties.

For Republicans, registered voters who have not participated in another party’s nominating contest are eligible. They must attend a county mass meeting on March 2 and be inside the meeting room by 10 a.m., when the doors close.

During these meetings, Republicans will choose delegates for congressional district and state conventions. The allocation is based on one delegate for every 2,000 votes for Trump in the 2020 election.

Additional Republican caucus rules include:

  • A winner-take-all system where a candidate with over 50% support receives all the delegates. If no candidate reaches this threshold, any candidate with at least 15% support will be allocated delegates.
  • Delegates are elected by slate, without individual nominations.
  • In counties divided between Congressional districts, delegates must be apportioned accordingly.
  • Larger counties may hold multiple meetings to manage attendance, such as in St. Charles County.

Missouri’s Republican representatives for the National Convention will be chosen on April 6 at congressional district conventions and May 4 at the state convention in Springfield. The state will send 51 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

The Democratic process is more complex. Registered voters can express their preferences in the party-run primary, with delegates bound by these choices selected at county caucuses.

Like the Republicans, Democrats also require a 15% threshold for delegate allocation, but without a winner-take-all rule.

Additional Democratic participation rules include:

  • Only voters registered by February 21 are eligible.
  • Mail-in ballot requests start on February 1 and end on March 12. These ballots must be returned by noon on March 23.
  • Four hours of in-person voting is available on March 23, with at least one polling location in each county, funding permitting.
  • The party aims to announce results by March 28, with county caucus meetings to select delegates following these results.
  • National Convention delegates are selected at district conventions on May 9 and the state convention on June 22. Missouri will have 42 delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

The certainty of in-person voting in every county is unclear, as stated by party spokeswoman Chelsea Rodriguez. She mentioned that details regarding voting locations and ballot requests will be announced shortly.

A new state law allows voters to affiliate with a political party during voter registration.

“Only those with Democrat or Unaffiliated status may request a ballot,” the Democratic delegate selection plan specifies. “Republican-affiliated voters are ineligible.”

Ashcroft advises voters to verify their registration status.

“They can confirm this with their local election authority or on the Secretary of State’s website. Here, they can also register to vote or update their party affiliation,” he said.

Ashcroft emphasized that the deadlines set by the parties are organizational rules, not state laws.

“What I would recommend,” Ashcroft said, “is not to delay if you’re not yet registered.”

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Rudi Keller


Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy, and the legislature. He’s spent 22 of his 30 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics, most recently as the news editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Keller has won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.