Entries in Missouri Caucus (4)


Missouri Caucus Anecdotes: Arguments, Arrests, and a Good Day for Ron Paul

Yoon S. Byun/Getty Images(ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo.) -- The Missouri caucuses may have marked Ron Paul’s most successful day of the 2012 campaign, as anecdotes from across the state indicate a strong showing.

To varying degrees, proceedings grew contentious between Paul supporters and local GOP officials. The gist of the disputes: GOP organizers said the Paul backers were boisterous and obstructive. Paul backers wanted to be heard.

While speculation has been noted on a national level that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are somehow colluding in the 2012 race, anecdotal evidence from Missouri suggests some cooperation: In counties where Paul supporters showed well, Romney supporters and Paul supporters appeared together on mixed delegate slates. Local GOP officials said they couldn’t say, one way or another, whether Paul and Romney backers seemed to be cooperating in any organized way at individual caucus sites.

•    In St. Charles County, organizers and police shut down the caucus amid a bitter dispute between Ron Paul supporters and the caucus chairman. Two Ron Paul supporters were arrested, then released. A police helicopter showed up. The caucus was held in a high school gym, and about 2,500 people attended.

•    The Kansas City Star reports that things got contentious in Clay County, too:”In Clay County, arguments between Paul supporters and others became so intense that the caucus chairman threatened to have voters removed by force. … [Paul supporter:] ‘We raised a number of points of order, points of information, points of parliamentary inquiry, many of which have been ignored.’

•     Boone County, which encompasses Columbia and the University of Missouri, elected a slate of Ron Paul-backing delegates, after Paul supporters succeeded in electing their own caucus chair. (That’s a normal part of caucus procedure: the first vote taken is on who will chair the meeting.) One GOP member described the Paul supporters as “loud, boisterous,” and “obnoxious” at the meeting — although the local GOP chairman said things were civil and that GOP officials get along fine with the Paul people there. The caucus elected 48 Ron Paul delegates and 5 Mitt Romney delegates, according to a local GOP official.

•    Greene County (a large GOP county in Southwest Missouri, encompassing Springfield) elected a mixed slate of 65 Ron Paul delegates, 40 Mitt Romney delegates, and six Rick Santorum delegates. “A few [caucus attendees] got a little loud,” said Danette Proctor, the county GOP chair who presided over the caucus. “But I just said, ‘Be quiet.’”

•    In keeping with what seems to be a trend, a Ron Paul supporter in Lincoln County alleged that GOP officials violated caucus rules in an attempt to silence Paul supporters. Quote from a Ron Paul supporter, as posted on a blog: “They practically ignored the State GOP guidelines and rules. The severely butchered Robert’s Rules of Order.” Note: GOP caucuses (in Missouri, as well as in Iowa) are governed by Robert’s Rules of Order, although Missouri counties can use their own rules … and then adopt new rules after electing a caucus chairman. 

•    In Christian County, south of Springfield, a local GOP official said Rick Santorum supporters came out as winners, electing a mixed slate of mostly Santorum backers and some Romney backers.

•    Rick Santorum spoke at the Chesterfield, Mo., caucus site in St. Louis County Saturday morning — but his supporters only narrowly won out. A slate of Santorum-backing delegates narrowly defeated a mixed slate of Paul and Romney supporters, according to a Chesterfield GOP official.

•    The state GOP acknowledged that it had heard of a few disagreements at caucuses around the state, but nothing else on par with what happened in St. Charles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Police Intervene, Arrest Ron Paul Backers at Missouri Caucus

Alex Wong/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) Police and organizers shut down proceedings at one of Missouri’s largest caucuses on Saturday, as Ron Paul supporters feuded with local GOP leaders.

“It’s like the Hatfields and the McCoys around here,” St. Charles County’s former GOP chairman told ABC News, after police arrived on-scene with a helicopter and removed Paul backers.

In St. Charles, an exurb of St. Louis and one of the state’s largest GOP counties, Paul supporters sought to elect their own chairman and adopt their own rules when proceedings opened — both of which are part of standard caucus rules and procedure. But as they argued with the caucus chair, Paul supporters held video cameras — against caucus rules, according to a GOP official who was there — and things became contentious.

“It turned into a little food fight within the caucus, between the caucus chairman trying to control the caucus and certain elements, I guess with Ron Paul, trying to be heard,” said Tom Kipers, a former chairman of the St. Charles GOP, who attended the caucus at Francis Howell North High School.

An off-duty police officer, hired as security, eventually filed a trespassing complaint against the Paul supporters and notified on-duty police in the area municipality of St. Peters, who, along with police from other jurisdictions, arrested two Paul supporters and ended the caucuses early. A joint-jurisdictional police helicopter arrived on the scene. Kipers said about 10 officers arrived in total.

“Two people were arrested for trespassing after receiving numerous warnings to leave the school property,” the St. Peters police said in a press release. “Both subjects were transported to St. Peters Justice Center where they were booked for Trespassing and released on a summons.”

The St. Peters police identified the Paul supporters as Brent Safford, 45, of O’Fallon, Mo., and Kenneth Suitter, 55, of St. Charles.

Caucus business never really got started. The St. Charles GOP said in an official statement that it still plans to send delegates to the congressional-district and state conventions, but none were elected at the caucus on Saturday.

Saturday’s episode was a near repeat of 2008, when Paul backers succeeded in overwhelming other factions at the St. Charles caucus, according to Kipers. Their elected delegates were subsequently tossed from the congressional-district convention for being verifiable Libertarians (by primary voter rolls) and not Republicans, although Missouri has no voter registration by party.

At the state convention, in a spirit of reconciliation according to Kipers, they were reinstated and the officials who had barred them were themselves barred for having done so.

“Did I expect this to happen? Kind of,” Kipers said of Saturday’s episode. “That’s why we hired … policemen.”

It’s too early to tell which candidate performed best, and the Missouri GOP said anecdotal evidence indicates that very few counties chose to “bind” their delegates to any particular candidate.

The county caucuses are Missouri’s main event in the 2012 primary season. There will be no traditional “winner”: caucusers did not vote on presidential candidates, even in a “straw-poll” or “beauty-contest” sense, as in Iowa. Instead, caucusers chose first-tier delegates to Missouri’s congressional-district and state conventions, who will then elect and allocate 49 of the state’s 52 national delegates.

Rick Santorum won the state’s nonbinding Feb. 7 primary, 55 percent to Mitt Romney’s 25 percent. Newt Gingrich was not on the ballot, having made no attempt to qualify. The state party tried to cancel that event after a complex intra-state political saga.

Santorum supporters prevailed in Chesterfield, one of the largest caucus sites in St. Louis County, the only Missouri county holding multiple caucuses. Attendees elected slates of first-tier delegates who support Santorum, according to a local GOP official.

Paul supporters, meanwhile prevailed in Boone, a mid-sized county that encompasses Columbia and the University of Missouri. The county elected a slate of 48 Paul-supporting delegates and five who back Romney, the local GOP chairman said.

Paul supporters and local officials get along well in Boone, chairman Bruce Cornett said, although one 75-year-old county GOP member referred to them as “loud” and “obnoxious” at Saturday’s event.

The caucuses won’t end until next week. Nearly all the caucuses took place on Saturday, but Jackson County, which encompasses Kansas City and is one of Missouri’s largest counties by GOP votes, will not caucus until March 24.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rick Santorum Claims Delegate Race Is Closer Than Reported

AFP/Getty Images(BALLWIN, Mo.) — As Missouri voters gathered to select delegates for the convention, Rick Santorum made the case that the delegate race between him and Mitt Romney is closer than the current delegate math estimates suggest.

“You help us here today. You elect delegates for us today to go to that convention. We’ve got some new delegate math that we’re going to be putting out that shows this race is a lot different than what the consensus is. We’re looking at the rules, we’re looking at how things are stacking up, and we’re in much better shape in these caucuses and some of these apportioned states or winner take all states which in fact are not winner take all states,” said Santorum at a Lafayette Township caucus site Saturday morning.

Santorum did not indicate when the campaign would release their version of delegate calculations.

During a radio interview with Randy Tobler, Santorum noted that the current delegate math favors Romney’s campaign.

“Those numbers are frankly just not true. I mean, the delegate allocation isn’t anywhere near what they’re suggesting. It’s a very pro-Romney allocation of resources,” said Santorum. “Many of the delegates that have been put forward right now are truly just still uncommitted and can go either way. There’s no hard and fast that he’s gonna get those votes or we’ll get those votes, so we’ve got a long way to go.”

“If we keep winning and doing well, and we keep winning the states that we’re supposed to win, upset him in states and do either very, very well or win some of the states we’re not supposed to win, we’re gonna win the nomination. I have no doubt about that whatsoever,” Santorum continued.

At a second caucus site in Hazelwood, Santorum claimed he has won every state in the Midwest, despite losing Ohio and Michigan to Romney.

“If you look at the Midwest, all of the Midwest is one color. It’s our color. We’ve won every state in the Midwest. Let’s keep that going in the state of Illinois, obviously we need to keep that going here with the delegate selection here in Missouri,” said Santorum.

As he made his pitch to voters gathered at two caucus sites Saturday morning, Santorum turned his focus on Romney, describing the former Massachusetts governor as “uniquely disqualified” to provide a contrast to President Obama, particularly on the issue of health care. The bulk of Santorum’s caucus site pitch focused on his rivals’ and the president’s stances on energy and health care.

Santorum argued that the implementation of President Obama’s healthcare plan would lead to this generation allowing “the torch of freedom go out in America because we will all be dependent upon the federal government for your life and health, and once that happens, it’s all over.”

Without citing names, Santorum accused some in the Republican field of not possessing the ability to uphold their convictions.

“There are people in our party who are running for president who have lost that will, and they’re willing to make deals. They’re willing to compromise that fundamental thing, and if we put up someone like that and not someone who believes in that strong, clear contrast, we will lose, and if we lose, we lose,” said Santorum.

Regardless of the up-hill climb Santorum might face in the delegate race, he promised to persevere in the race through the end and asked Missouri voters to not only help generate a high delegate count, but also extend their support into Illinois prior to Tuesday’s contests.

“We’re in this fight. We’re going to be in it till the end. We’re going to win. The Republican party’s going to nominate a conservative. You’ve just got to believe that, and I hope you that give us the opportunity here in Missouri to have a great delegate count and then go home and call your friends across the river and make sure we have the same opportunity in Illinois.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Back-to-Back Contests in Missouri, Puerto Rico This Weekend

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This weekend is a first for the 2012 primary cycle: Two voting contests in two separate regions will be held within 24 hours of each other.

Missouri holds its caucus on Saturday, and  Puerto Rico hosts its primary on Sunday.

Missouri’s caucus is confusing to say the least.   There are no “results” in the traditional sense of that word. No delegates are awarded, and there’s no percentage of the vote against which to measure who’s up and who’s down. Instead, Saturday’s contest marks the first step in a multi-step process toward  electing the delegates to represent the state at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.

Missouri  already held one “meaningless” primary  this year in February,  in which Rick Santorum performed well.  He “won” that event with 55 percent of the vote. That primary was essentially a straw poll:  Voters chose their preferred candidate at the time, and it took the pulse of where Missouri voters were at that time. That event was totally separate from Saturday’s caucus, however, and will likely have no bearing on Missouri’s ultimate delegate allocation.

Puerto Rico is more straightforward. The U.S. territory comes with a total of 23 delegates, and 20 will be allocated proportionally. Local party officials expect that 300,000 to 400,000 votes will be cast on paper ballots, which are written in  English and Spanish. All registered voters can vote in the primary, provided they sign a type of  oath pledging loyalty to the values of the Republican Party.

John McCain carried Puerto Rico in 2008, receiving 91 percent of the vote, and took all  20 delegates allocated that year. McCain’s win came several weeks after Mitt Romney had dropped out of the 2008 race, and the Arizona senator was the presumed nominee.

This year couldn’t be more different. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each has a lot to gain from a victory in Puerto Rico. A win for Romney, who has the endorsement of Puerto Rico’s Gov. Luis Fortuno,  would further increase his delegate lead, making a brokered convention a more remote possibility.  A Santorum win would build on the  momentum he gained from his Southern sweep last Tuesday, not a bad thing as the candidates head into the Illinois primary two days later.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio