A ‘disorderly caucus’ in Missouri

Did Santorum win Missouri? We'll find out next month.
Did Santorum win Missouri? We'll find out next month.
Associated Press

When we talk about the problems with the Republican presidential nominating process, we tend to focus on the divided party’s difficulties in choosing a nominee from a weak field and amidst poor voter turnout.

But there’s another, more organizational problem: the GOP has had a surprising amount of trouble simply hosting the primaries and caucuses themselves. As Rachel explained in a segment two weeks ago, seven states that have held Republican nominating contests have had huge screw-ups in the way they ran their races, eight if we include Virginia’s primary that managed to exclude two major candidates altogether.

With this background in mind, it was not at all encouraging to see Missouri Republicans, who held a non-binding “beauty contest” primary in February for odd reasons, had another round of trouble yesterday. A “disorderly caucus” in St. Charles County – home to the largest number of delegates in the state – meant GOP voters in the area weren’t able to have their say at all.

The unrest began as the caucus at Francis Howell North High School was called to order more than a hour late, then delayed again when a member of the crowd refused to put away a video camera, as required by the rules outlined by the local Republican Party. […]

Members of crowd began shouting, “We make the rules!” among other chants as organizers tried to regain control, which they did briefly. But the shouting quickly escalated when it came time to appoint a chair of the caucus.

The police were called in, and two people were arrested on trespassing charges after being asked to leave when the meeting was then called to an early close.

As a rule, when police are called in to maintain public safety during a presidential caucus, there’s a problem.

St. Charles County, by the way, wasn’t the only community to run into trouble. The St. Louis Dispatch report noted, “At other caucuses, participants gathered outdoors as the appointed locations turned out to be too small to accommodate crowds or waited for hours as organizers worked through procedural questions…. Several caucuses did not start on time as higher than expected turnouts packed the libraries, schools and grocery stores where the events were held.”

As for who won, it looks like Rick Santorum probably came out on top, but thanks to the Missouri GOP’s serpentine process, we don’t know for sure – and won’t know until April.

Puerto Rico, meanwhile, will hold its primary today – 25 delegates are at stake – which will be followed by the Illinois primary on Tuesday.

Rick Santorum and Missouri

A 'disorderly caucus' in Missouri