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Movement to dump Mo. presidential primary and restore caucuses

Mo. Capitol
(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)
Mo. Capitol

The Missouri Senate has delayed debate on a bill that wouldmove the state’s presidential primary from February to March.

The holdup involves a pending amendment that would scrap the primary altogether and return Missouri to its former status as a caucus state.

Kevin Engler (R, Farmington) is handling the bill in the State Senate.  He says there’s a group of lawmakers who don’t want the national political parties to dictate when states can hold their own primaries.

“There’s a movement to either (keep the primary in) February, (where) we risk losing half our delegations, or amending (the bill) to go to the caucus system," Engler said.  "In 1988, the primaries were created primarily to help Dick Gephardtso that he could win the Missouri (Democratic Presidential) Primary.”

Engler also says returning to a caucus system would save the state around $6.5 million.

The Senate has taken the rest of the week off and will reconvene next Wednesday.  The House passed the presidential primary bill last week. 

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.