The word “non-binding” was thrown around often when either previewing or analyzing Missouri’s GOP primary. And with good reason: The real battle for delegates will take place at the party’s March caucuses.
Although former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum easily won Missouri's Republican primary, it doesn't necessarily ensure that he'll get the Show Me State's delegates. Santorum's primary victory – along with wins in the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses – helped revive the former Pennsylvania senator’s campaign against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The delegate situation will be decided at the Missouri Republican Party's caucuses, beginning in March. It's a complicated process that involves participation at the county, congressional and state level.
So how does a person participate in a county caucus? For one thing, any registered voter that declares that they are a Republican can contribute at the March caucuses. Jonathon Prouty, a spokesman for the Missouri GOP, said that it’s not required for a potential caucus-goer to have voted in the February 7 primary to attend a caucus.
“There’s no partisan voter registration in Missouri, so we don’t have a Republican list or Democratic list,” Prouty said. “So if they come and they say they’re a Republican, they can participate.”
As for the actual substance of the meeting, Prouty said each county caucus would resemble other formal meetings that utilize Robert’s Rules of Order. Each meeting will convene, elect a chairman, pass rules and vote on delegates.
Attendees at these caucuses will select delegates and alternates to the Congressional District Conventions and State Convention. At the eight congressional conventions, delegates chosen at the county level will select three delegates and alternates to the National Convention and one presidential elector.
At the state convention, delegates will select a slate of 25 at-large delegates and alternates to the National Convention and two at-large presidential electors. The delegates selected at the congressional conventions and state convention will be bound to their candidate on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention.
Currently, the caucus locations for St. Louis County and St. Charles County have yet to be determined. Jefferson County residents that want to participate can go to the Hillsboro R-3 Intermediate School in Hillsboro. The caucus is expected to start at 10 a.m.
While Santorum was the only candidate to campaign in Missouri in the run up to the state's primary, at least one other contender is gearing up for battle next month. Romney’s supporters took to the phone lines this week to criticize Santorum. Included on the call was former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Missouri, U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, and state Auditor Tom Schweich.
MOVING ON BACK
Further down the ballot, Missouri lawmakers are looking to move the candidate-filing period.
Currently, the filing period is slated to begin on February 28 and end on March 27. But with lawsuits against the congressional and state House maps – as well as the need to draw a new state Senate map –some lawmakers see the need to shift the timeline.
After another affirmative vote from the Senate, the bill will go to the House for consideration.
STEELMAN ON THE AIR
A couple weeks ago, this column noted how Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Brunner and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Dave Spence began running television ads to boost name recognition. Now another Republican candidate – former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman – has taken to the airwaves to respond to the controversy over mandating birth control.
Politico reporter Dave Catanese said the spot will start airing on the Fox News Channel this week. It features Steelman staring at the camera and condemning the decision.
In addition to Brunner and Steelman, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, is also in the GOP primary to determine who will face U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, later this year. Both Brunner and Akin have sharply criticized the decision.
Closer to home, state Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, is pushing legislation stipulating that no entity “shall be compelled to obtain coverage for or provide coverage for abortion, contraception, or sterilization in a health plan if such items or procedures are contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions.” It recently passed a Senate committee.
“I’ve requested this bill be given a prompt hearing so we can debate it on the floor as soon as possible,” Lamping said in a statement this week. “Protecting the religious freedom of Missourians is a right upon which the government should not intrude.”