Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kentucky Republicans Support Move to 2016 Presidential Caucuses

On Saturday, March 7 the Republican Party of Kentucky Executive Committee met and voted unanimously in favor of switching from a presidential primary to a caucuses/convention system in 2016.

The shift was requested by US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to accommodate his potential simultaneous runs for renomination to the Senate seat he now holds and for the Republican presidential nomination. Kentucky law prevents a candidate from appearing on a ballot more than once. Trading the May presidential primary for separate caucuses was the easiest path to circumventing that law, allowing the concurrent runs for both offices. Sen. Paul now avoids having to go through the courts to challenge the law or attempting to exploit more intricate possibilities.

The exact date of the caucuses is not known at this point. The Kentucky Republican Party Executive Committee was voting on just the switch in delegate selection mode and not the rules that will govern the caucuses. That change will come later at the August meeting of the full Kentucky Republican Party Central Committee following a 13 member caucus-planning panel.

That said, the Republican Party of Kentucky holds precinct caucuses during the month of March in presidential election years as a part of the party's state convention process. See Rule 5.03:
5.03. Precinct Committee Elections: The Precinct shall be the basic organizational unit of the Republican Party of Kentucky.
(a) Timing of Elections: In the year in which the President of the United States shall be elected, all precincts shall hold elections for Party office not earlier than March 1 and not later than March 31. Each County Committee shall provide written notice to State Republican Headquarters on or before the second Friday in January of the date, time and location of such elections. Any County Committee that fails to submit said notice by the deadline established in this rule shall hold said elections on the third Saturday in March beginning at 10 AM local time at a location approved by the County Committee and submitted to the State Republican Headquarters on or before January 31. Failure to submit written notice as provided in this rule mandates that the Executive Committee of the RSCC implement a mechanism for Precinct Committee elections. [Emphasis FHQ's] 
Whether there will be a uniform date for precinct caucuses or if the rules will be altered to affect such a change remains to be seen. This does mark the first time since the 2000 presidential election cycle that Kentucky Republicans have opted for a caucuses/convention system in lieu of the May primary. Kentucky Democrats made a similar move in 1984.

UPDATE: More on the vote from the AP's Adam Beam.

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