Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Colorado Republicans Cancel Presidential Vote at 2016 caucus

Move makes Colorado only state to date to opt out of early nomination process Colorado GOP chairman Steve House
Colorado GOP chairman Steve House (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
The Denver Post
Colorado will not vote for a Republican candidate for president at its 2016 caucus after party leaders approved a little-noticed shift that may diminish the state's clout in the most open nomination contest in the modern era.
The GOP executive committee has voted to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll after the national party changed its rules to require a state's delegates to support the candidate who wins the caucus vote.
The move makes Colorado the only state so far to forfeit a role in the early nomination process, according to political experts, but other caucus states are still considering how to adapt to the new rule.
"It takes Colorado completely off the map" in the primary season, said Ryan Call, a former state GOP chairman.
Republicans still will hold precinct caucus meetings in early 2016 to begin the process of selecting delegates for the national convention — but the 37 delegates are not pledged to any specific candidate.
For Republicans, no declared winner means the caucus will lack much of its hype. The presidential campaigns still may try to win delegate slots for their supporters, but experts say the move makes it less likely that candidates will visit Colorado to court voters.
The Colorado system often favors anti-establishment candidates who draw a dedicated following among activists. So the party's move may hurt GOP contenders such as Donald Trump, who would have received a boost if he won the state.
State Republican Party Chairman Steve House said the party's 24-member executive committee made the unanimous decision Friday — six members were absent — to skip the preference poll.
The move, he said, would give Colorado delegates the freedom to support any candidate eligible at the Cleveland convention in July. Republican National Committee officials confirmed that the change complies with party rules.
"If we do a binding presidential preference poll, we would then pledge our delegates ... and the candidates we bind them to may not be in the race by the time we get to the convention," House said in an interview Tuesday.
But the freedom also opened the door for political mischief, as Colorado saw in 2012 when Ron Paul supporters managed to win a significant portion of the delegate slots.The RNC tightened the rules in 2012 to eliminate nonbinding straw polls and help prevent similar stunts in the future, forcing Colorado Republicans to re-evaluate their process. An effort earlier this year to switch to a presidential primary system failed amid party infighting.
"It's an odd scenario," said Josh Putnam, a political science lecturer at the University of Georgia who runs a popular blog on the presidential nominating process. "It's not to say the campaigns won't be there. ... But you won't have a good reflection of support at the caucuses, much less Colorado Republicans as a whole."
With the change, the only way Colorado Republican delegates would remain relevant is the remote chance that no candidate emerges as a clear winner in the primary contest. In this case, the state's unbound delegates would receive significant attention and may hold the key to victory in a floor fight.

"If there's the potential for a brokered convention in any way, the unaffiliated delegates become extremely important," said Joy Hoffman, the Arapahoe County GOP chairwoman who attended the party meeting. "If there is someone who becomes a front-runner, ... then nobody's important. So I think the view became that if we were not bound, it's not the worse thing that could happen." This story was first published on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 at 2:06 p.m John Frank: 303-954-2409, or JohnFrank