If Missouri weighing in on the presidential election sounds a bit familiar, that’s because the state already held what amounted to a beauty contest primary last month. Rick Santorum won handily with 55% of the vote. Romney came in second with 25% and Ron Paul third with 12%. Newt Gingrichdidn’t make the ballot.
But those results don’t count because the state GOP decided to comply with new Republican National Committee rules that stipulate that any state holding a nominating contest earlier than March 6 would see the size of its delegation cut in half. After a failed effort to have the state legislature reschedule the February primary, the state GOP decided to maintain its 52 delegates by awarding them through a caucus system that begins today.
Self-declared Republicans who are registered to vote were eligible to participate in the county-level caucuses, most of which took place at 10 a.m. local time. Participants selected delegates who will go onto congressional district conventions in April and a state convention in June. They did not participate in a presidential preference straw poll, and, with few exceptions, the delegates they selected are not bound to any candidates.
At the congressional district conventions on April 21, the delegates chosen at the county-level conventions will select the delegates who will be sent to the national convention inTampa, Fla. Three delegates will be selected to represent each of the state’s eight congressional districts for a total of 24 delegates.
At the state convention on June 2, 25 at-large delegates and alternates will be selected to represent the state in Tampa.
At both conventions, the delegates will identify which candidates they prefer before the selection process takes place, and, if chosen to move on, they will be bound to those candidates on the first ballot in Tampa, unless a candidate drops out of the race and releases his delegates.
In addition, the state chairman, national committeeman and national committeewoman are automatic delegates.