Eliminating Missouri’s presidential primary becomes a special session issue

State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY — The top leader of Missouri’s Senate told reporters earlier this week that his chamber on Monday would debate eliminating Missouri’s presidential primary.

Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer’s comments came after a closed-door caucus of Senate Republicans to discuss how to proceed with the legislature’s special session.

Gov. Jay Nixon had urged legislators to change the primary date from February to March. Both national political parties have warned states that not all their delegates might be seated if held early primaries.

The House passed the idea, but Mayer said the issue before the Senate would be a repeal of the presidential primary.

In a session with reporters after the closed GOP caucus, Mayer said repeal would save the state at least $6 million in statewide election costs.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan issued a written statement urging legislators to retain the primary, calling repeal of the primary “a step in the wrong direction.”

Carnahan, a Democrat, calls the idea “wrong-headed.” She said eliminating the primary would not allow ordinary Missourians to voice their presidential preferences.

Earlier this fall, the state Republican Party voted to abandon the primary and return to the caucus system for selecting delegates to the GOP national convention.