Playing 'What If' When It Comes to Missouri Politics
Even if the state's presidential primary had carried delegate weight, would Mitt Romney's defacto hold of the GOP nomination be any different now?
Missouri politics may be the best arena to ask “what if?”
For instance, what if Republican Matt Blunt had decided to run for re-election in 2008? Would he have defeated then-Attorney General Jay Nixon? Or would he have been swept under the relative Democratic wave that year?
And what if Chris Koster had decided to run for attorney general as a Republican? Would he have emerged victorious out of a GOP primary or would have been defeated by more conservative candidates?
Political prognosticators can only dream. But a more recent version of that fun and exciting exercise comes about with Missouri’s presidential caucuses.
After the legislature failed to move the primary date to March, Republicans in the state had to go through with a non-binding primary. And the real arena for allocating delegates was at caucuses, a process that is still ongoing.
In fact, St. Charles County redid its caucuses earlier this week after a high-profile breakdown. As St. Charles Patch reported earlier this week, adherents to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul managed to win the day, meaning that the Texas Republican could gain a decent amount of delegates.
That’s because all of the delegates selected at county-level conventions will now be sent to congressional caucuses on April 21. According to the Missouri Republican Party website, “delegates chosen at the county level will select three delegates and alternates to the National Convention and one presidential elector. These delegates and alternates will identify their candidate before being chosen.”
But in essence, whatever happens at these congressional conventions is largely academic. With former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum’s decision to bow out of the presidential race, the contest for the GOP presidential contest is effectively over. Barring a huge surge from cash-strapped former House Speaker Newt Gingrich or Libertarian-friendly Paul, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president.
That brings us back to the original exercise, what would have happened if Missouri lawmakers had successfully moved the primary date to March 6? That day featured a whole bunch of states up for grabs, including Ohio, Virginia, Massachusetts and Georgia. Even if Santorum won Missouri like he did the non-binding primary, it’s unlikely that would have overshadowed Romney prevailing in Ohio.
Still, the fact that Missouri Republicans still haven’t officially allocated delegates isn’t lost on everybody. Kansas City Star editorial writer Barb Shelley noted, “Missouri spent about $7 million on a primary that didn’t select any Republican delegates, because the Missouri Republican Party didn’t want to reduce its delegate count at the Republican National Convention by holding an early primary.
“Republicans throughout the state held caucuses on two separate weekends in March because some people didn’t want to interrupt St. Patrick’s Day festivities with political obligations. The state’s third-largest county couldn’t get any delegates elected when they held a caucus, and now the do-over is irrelevant,” Shelley wrote. “What a fiasco.”
It’s almost a given at this point that the 2016 process, especially if Romney doesn’t defeat President Barack Obama, will be different.
Congressional caucus locations
In any case, the Missouri Republicans posted locations for each of the eight congressional caucuses. All the events start at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 21.
- The convention for the 1st Congressional District, encompassing all of St. Louis City and portions of St. Louis County, will convene at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park in St. Louis City.
- The convention for the 2nd Congressional District, which includes most of St. Louis County, part of St. Charles County and part of Jefferson County, will take place at the Lindbergh High School Cafeteria.
- The convention for the 3rd Congressional District, a sprawling area that includes a big chunk of St. Charles County, will take place at Hermann High School.
(A chunk of Jefferson County is located in the 8th Congressional District, which will be holding its caucuses at the Gamma Labs Conference Center in Poplar Bluff.)
For more information, go to the Missouri Republican Party website.