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Missouri to hold “beauty contest” primary

by Lindsey Gill

With less  than a year until the 2012 general election, Americans everywhere are gearing up for primary season. With Iowa, as usual, holding the coveted number one spot, the rest of the 50 states will hold their primaries or caucuses sometime between January and June.  Because Missouri law mandates that the state hold a primary election on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February, that sets the date for the 2012 primary as February 7th. With only a few states holding a primary or caucus earlier, Missouri’s primary has the possibility to be very influential in the Republican nomination… well, at least it would, if any of Missouri’s votes actually counted.  Instead, the state is set to spend between 6 and 8 million dollars on what Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey called a “beauty contest.”

The reason? A rift in the Missouri Republican Party. Nearly a decade after legislators moved Missouri’s primary to February, the Republican and Democratic National Committees instituted new primary rules mandating that all states except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, hold their primary no earlier than the first Tuesday of March. The Missouri Republican Party immediately began pushing state legislators to change the date of the primary in order to accord with the new rules. Holding the largest Republican majority in state history, one would think that the state legislature would pass an amendment to the primary law with little opposition. Indeed, that appeared to be the case when the legislature passed SB 282 in May of 2011, including the presidential primary provision as one of its several changes to Missouri election law.

Governor Jay Nixon, however, agreeing with the presidential primary provision, vetoed the bill for other reasons. With the national party threatening to sanction any state that did not adhere to the new primary rules by seating only half their delegates, Missouri legislators tried again during special session, limiting HB 3 specifically to the issue of changing the primary date. After barreling through the House, the bill stalled in the Senate as the Republican majority could not decide whether to submit to the national party rules. Continue reading

What’s so wrong with a dead lizard?

by Lindsey J. Gill

A lot, according to a recently filed lawsuit challenging the Missouri congressional redistricting plan.  Alleging that the districts violate the state’s constitution, the plaintiffs seek to have the Republican-drawn plan thrown out, and replaced with one drawn by the Missouri courts.

Current Missouri districts

After the 2010 census results indicated that the population of Missouri grew only 7%, compared to the national average of 10%, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that Missouri would lose a congressional seat.  With nine representatives currently serving in Congress, Missouri was left with the arduous task of redrawing the congressional districts from nine to eight, inevitably making one incumbent very unhappy.  Per the state’s constitution, this task fell on the General Assembly.  With Republicans heavily outnumbering Democrats in both the state’s House of Representatives and the Senate, there was little question which party would end up on the losing end of the decision.   At the time, Democrats held three of the nine congressional seats, and two of those seats represented parts of St. Louis, Missouri’s largest city.  With a substantial amount of the state’s population growth occurring in the Republican-dominated, suburban counties surrounding the city, namely St. Charles, Warren, and Lincoln County, the population of  St. Louis City and St. Louis County declined and  the area became the inevitable target of the new redistricting plan.

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