This website is best viewed in a browser that supports web standards.

Skip to content or, if you would rather, Skip to navigation.


News Brief

Jan. 22, 2024 |  By: Rudi Keller - Missouri Independent

Missouri political parties prepare for life after the presidential primary


By Rudi Keller - Missouri Independent

The presidential nominating process kicked off Monday in Iowa, with a decisive victory for former President Donald Trump in the Republican caucuses. 

Missouri’s turn will come in March, when Republicans meet for caucuses on March 2 and Democrats participate in a party-run primary on March 23.

From 2000 to 2020, Missouri had a state-run presidential primary. Lawmakers repealed the law authorizing the primary in 2022 and efforts to revive it last year fell short when the state Senate descended into factional gridlock.

In an interview with The Independent, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said he would have preferred a primary. The system Missouri will use instead requires voters to do some work to participate, he said.

“Individuals that want to help nominate presidential candidates from Missouri will need to get involved with the local party with how they’re doing that,” Ashcroft said.

On the Republican side, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley did well enough in Iowa to continue their campaigns to next Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy dropped out after finishing fourth in Iowa.

Democrats kick off their nominating contest Feb. 3 in South Carolina. No major candidate is challenging President Joe Biden’s bid for a second term. There are some long-shot contenders, including Marianne Williamson, a self-help author and former spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey, and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota.

Which candidates will still be in the race and eligible to receive delegates from Missouri will be entirely up to the parties, Ashcroft said.

“I have no authority over how the Republicans, the Democrats or the Libertarians are selecting their presidential nominee from Missouri,” he said.

Both parties set a 15% threshold for a candidate’s supporters to win delegates and both parties will have voter caucus meetings to elect those delegates but that is where the similarities end.

On the Republican side, registered voters who did not participate in another party’s nominating contest are eligible. Voters must attend a mass meeting in their county on March 2 and be inside the room by 10 a.m. when the doors will be closed.

At the March 2 meetings, Republicans will elect delegates to congressional district and state conventions, with 1 delegate for each 2,000 votes for Trump in the 2020 election.

Other rules for the Republican caucuses include:

The people who will represent Missouri at the Republican National Convention will be selected April 6 at congressional district conventions and May 4 at the Republican State Convention in Springfield. Missouri will have 51 delegates at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

Participating in the Democratic Party process will be a bit more complicated. Democratic voters will register their preferences in the party-run primary, with the delegates who will be bound by those preferences selected at county caucuses.

Like Republicans, Democrats will require every candidate to achieve at least 15% of the vote to win delegates, but without a winner-take-all rule. 

Other rules for Democratic participation include:

Democratic National Convention delegates will be selected at congressional district conventions May 9 and the Democratic State Convention on June 22. Missouri will have 42 delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Whether Democrats will have voting locations in every county, as stated in the plan, is uncertain. 

Party spokeswoman Chelsea Rodriguez, in a statement to The Independent, said locations where voting will occur and how to request ballots will be announced soon.

The election, she said, “will be a hybrid election to include in-person voting sites in select locations and a vote-by-mail option.”

Rodriguez did not respond to follow-up questions asking whether there will be in-person voting in every county.

A new wrinkle for voters is a state law allowing voters to “affiliate” with a political party as part of their voter registration. 

“Voters may request a ballot if their registration reflects Democrat or Unaffiliated status,” the Democratic delegate selection plan states. “Voters affiliated with the Republican Party will not be permitted to receive a ballot.”

Voters who want to be sure they can participate should check their voter registration, Ashcroft said.

“They can do that by reaching out to their local election authority, their county clerk or their board of elections, depending on where they are,” he said. “They can also go to the Secretary of State’s website where they can not only register to vote if they’re not registered, but they can do their party affiliation if they so choose to do that. 

The deadlines set by the parties for being a registered voter are organization rules, not state laws, Ashcroft noted.

“What I would say,” Ashcroft said, “is if you’re not registered, don’t wait.”