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Carnahan: Mo. should hold presidential primary

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) is criticizing legislation in the Missouri Senatethat would scrap the state’s presidential primary in favor of party caucuses.

The Missouri Republican Partyannounced last month that it would use county-wide caucuses to select its delegates for next year’s national convention, and that the primary would be nothing more than a “beauty contest.”

State GOP officials based their decision on the failure of lawmakers to passa separate billduring the ongoing special session to move the primary from February to March, as demanded by the national party – and they say getting rid of the primaries could save the state between $6-8 million.  Carnahan says saving money is not the point.

“The premise that somehow we should cancel this election because it costs too much is frightening to me," Carnahan said.  "It’s a slippery slope if we start deciding that democracy isn’t worth the cost of an election…(it) makes you wonder what election they’re gonna try to cancel next.”

Carnahan also says switching to a system of county-wide party caucuses would result in fewer people having a say in who they want for president.

“The last time we had a caucus in Missouri was 1996; tens of thousands of people showed up for those," Carnahan said.  "In 2008 we had a presidential primary and 1.4 million people showed up.”

The State Senate is scheduled to take up the caucus bill next week.  Meanwhile, theMissouri Democratic Partyis also considering whether to stick with the primary or switch to caucuses.

The GOP caucuses are scheduled for March 17th.

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