Missouri is one of nine states where lawmakers are forming caucuses they say will focus on preserving religious freedom.
Departing State Representative Mike McGhee (R, Odessa) is organizing Missouri’s caucus. He says one of their functions will be to consult with lawmakers in other states on making sure that the language used in bills doesn’t result in the erosion of religious rights.
In February, Missouri voters picked Rick Santorum as the winner of the state’s presidential primary. But the results didn’t count.
Infighting among Republicans in Jefferson City had left the state’s presidential primary date in violation of party rules. Missouri was at risk of losing delegates to the GOP national convention. So the primary went on as scheduled – but state GOP leaders declared that delegates would instead be awarded at caucuses. The first of those gatherings are Saturday.
Missouri Republicans will start the process of picking presidential candidates on different days next month.
Republicans in most counties will hold caucuses at 10 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. Republicans in Jackson County and St. Louis city are waiting a week and will meet March 24. Chariton County in central Missouri is holding its caucus March 15, and southeastern Wayne County is meeting March 16.
Requests to change caucus dates are considered by the state Republican Party chairman.
Missouri House leaders will now attempt to get rid of the state’s presidential primary and replace it with party caucuses. A similar move fell short in the Missouri Senate.
Some Senate Republicans tried and failed Monday night to swap out the bill to move the primary from February to March with one that would have replaced it with caucuses. Speaker Pro-tem Shane Schoeller (R, Willard) has filed a new bill in the House that would do the same thing.
An attempt to replace Missouri’s presidential primary with statewide caucuses has failed in the State Senate, meaning the February 7th Democratic and Republican primaries will go on as scheduled.
Before the vote, some amendments were offered, including one that would have moved the primary forward to January. None of them passed, but they reflected efforts by several Republicans to preserve the state's primary. State Senator Eric Schmitt (R, Glendale) said that caucuses result in fewer people having a say in who they want for president.
The Missouri Republican Party announced last month that it would use county-wide caucuses to select its delegates for next year’s national convention, and that the primary would be nothing more than a “beauty contest.”