The Colorado GOP is discussing switching to a caucus if Trump is left out of the primary vote

By | December 20, 2023

In that case, the Republican Party of Colorado is considering converting its presidential contest into a caucus Donald Trump is ultimately ineligible to appear on the state’s primary ballot following a Colorado Supreme Court ruling.

The future switch, which would come with major hurdles, would ensure that Coloradans could still cast their votes for the former president after the Supreme Court kicked him off the primary ballot — and that the Republican Party could still award delegates to him at the national party nominating convention.

That change would require approval from the national Republican Party, preparations for a larger caucus in March and cooperation from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, which administers the state’s elections.

A move to a caucus system would also depend on the outcome and timing of a future U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether Trump’s name should be left out of Colorado’s primaries — unknowns that raise questions about how, when and if the state that party would go ahead with the elections. a change.

“We are at the mercy of the U.S. Supreme Court. We’re not sure what their timing will be. We’re figuring it out as we go,” said Dave Williams, chairman of the Republican Party of Colorado. “But we will be making our preparations to form a caucus as this all plays out.”

‘And if it [a Supreme Court ruling] is not in our favor, we will schedule a caucus. But if things go in our favor, nothing will change,” Williams added.

In emails and phone calls, other state and national GOP officials indicated that making the switch would be difficult and depend on several dynamics that are unclear for now.

The first step, Williams and others explained, would be for the Colorado Republican Party to seek a waiver from the Republican National Committee, which would allow the state party to reward delegates based on the results of a caucus system, and not based on primaries.

In October, the Republican National Committee had approved plans from all 50 state parties on how they would conduct their nominating contests and award delegates to the national nominating convention in July 2024.

Williams predicted that he and other Colorado GOP officials would approach the RNC “probably in the next two weeks” to “begin the process of obtaining a waiver in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court does not rule in our favor.”

He said the process would be made easier by the fact that the Colorado state party in September had “embedded” into its plan for the RNC a “contingency” in the event that Trump was removed from the ballot, which essentially “ would constitute a notice”. that we could ask for a waiver to move from the primary system to the caucus system.”

The RNC’s rules provide that such a waiver may be granted to a state Republican party in cases where the national committee determines that doing so is “in the best interests of the Republican Party” or when it is “not possible for a state Republican party to to retain power.” electing, selecting, assigning or binding delegates to the national convention in accordance with the processes certified by the Republican National Committee.”

The RNC executive committee, which would vote on such a waiver, is expected to meet at its winter meeting in Las Vegas in late January.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Trump’s candidacy for next year’s state primary is prohibited on constitutional grounds because he engaged in insurrection by inciting a riot on January 6, 2021. The first ruling of its kind stems from a lawsuit that focused on a little-known provision in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Similar challenges in other states have proven unsuccessful.

In its opinion, the court explicitly stated that Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold “may not mention President Trump’s name in the 2024 presidential primaries, nor may she count any write-in votes cast for him.”

The court suspended its decision until January 4 to allow further appeals.

It also said that if the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court before that date, the pause will remain in effect during that time and Colorado will have to list Trump’s name on the primary ballot pending action by the Supreme Court.

The Trump campaign has indicated that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is imminent. As a result, the broader outcome will remain stuck in a legal limbo for several weeks or months.

Nevertheless, the Colorado Republican Party said it could begin holding a caucus instead of a primary in the coming weeks.

For decades, Colorado held caucuses as a nominating contest for presidential candidates. But in 2019, voters approved a measure that switched to a primary election system during presidential elections, a change first implemented in 2020.

But Colorado voters are still vying for lower-level offices.

The Colorado presidential primary is currently scheduled for Tuesday, March 5. But Republicans have already scheduled caucuses in the state for other offices on March 7, explained Vera Ortegon, a Republican National Committeewoman from Colorado.

“Hopefully we win the appeal to the Supreme Court, and his name will appear on the ballot. But if not, then of course we have a plan B – to choose the presidential candidate through the current caucus system,” she said.

(Ortegon noted that an additional election day is planned for March 9 for specific rural communities.)

How exactly the party would expand existing statewide caucuses in such a short time frame remains unclear.

But if Republicans were to proceed with the move to a caucus system, any challenges to the changes from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office would be another likely hurdle.

Williams said that “the only thing we would do [ask] theirs is the request they don’t send [Republican] primaries.”

“But if they refused us for any reason, we would tell them, ‘Okay, fine,’” he added. “We’re just going to ignore the results. We are not going to adhere to a system that keeps Donald Trump from that vote.”

Jack Todd, a spokesman for Democrat Jena Griswold, Colorado’s secretary of state, responded that “Colorado law does not allow presidential primaries to be canceled at the request of a political party.”

“If the Republican Party in Colorado tries to withdraw from the presidential primaries or ignores the results of the election, this would likely be a matter for the courts,” Todd added.

Todd declined to respond to questions about whether this meant Griswold’s office would file a lawsuit to stop a state GOP attempt to switch to a caucus, saying he “doesn’t talk about hypothetical scenarios can speak.”

Griswold told MSNBC’s Alex Wagner on Tuesday night that she “will comply with any court order or decree by the time the case is issued.” [ballot] certification.” Griswold’s deadline for voting certification is January 5.

“If the Supreme Court of the United States decides to take up this case, I am confident that they will consider that certification in the State of Colorado is approaching very quickly and will quickly issue an order or decision to ensure that we comply the law,” Griswold said.

Potentially complicating the situation, one of Trump’s opponents, Vivek Ramaswamy, has vowed to withdraw from the Colorado Republican Party primary if Trump’s name is not on the ballot, and has challenged the other candidates to do the same.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie all criticized the court’s decision, arguing that judges should have no role in the election process. But DeSantis explicitly said he would not remove himself from the ballot in solidarity with Trump.

All four have already met all of the Colorado Secretary of State’s criteria to appear on the primary ballot.

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