Monday, September 26, 2011

Window Closing Sooner Rather Than Later on Moving Missouri Presidential Primary to March

Friday came and went, the Missouri General Assembly special session pushed on, and the date of the Show Me state presidential primary remained in limbo. The session was rumored to be coming to a close on Friday, but with many of the items on the special session legislative agenda splitting the Republican-controlled House and Senate, the session has devolved into technical sessions meant to do nothing more than keep the session going. The state Senate gaveled in a session this morning only to adjourn shortly thereafter to return next Monday.

Stuck in neutral, then, what does this mean for the Missouri presidential primary? For starters, the RNC deadline for setting primary or caucus dates is October 1 -- this coming Saturday. Of course, there are no penalties associated with missing that deadline (...from the RNC at least). On the state and local levels it means continued uncertainty for elections officials who must procede as if the primary will be on February 7. But this affects the candidates as well. The special session can go on into November, and it may, but it won't take the presidential primary with it.


Well, the candidate filing deadline -- according to Missouri Revised Statute Section 115.761.1 -- and the fee associated with it are due to the state in a window between 8am on the Tuesday fifteen weeks prior to the primary and 5pm on the Tuesday eleven weeks to the primary. If the primary is set on February 7, then that window stretches from October 25-November 22. The first part of that window could overlap with the continuation and close of the special session. This is particularly interesting considering that the House committee substitute to HB 3, in addition to altering the presidential primary date, also raises the filing fee.

The pressure, then, would be on the legislature to resolve its differences and get a bill off to the governor for his consideration on or prior to October 25. That is four weeks from Tuesday. The state House is set to meet next for a technical session on Thursday, September 29 and the state Senate on Monday, October 3. The result is that the Missouri primary date will be unknown until a time past the RNC-mandated deadline for having set a primary or caucus date.

Thanks to an FHQ reader for pointing out the filing deadline conflict.

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