Kansas GOP, Democrats plan early March presidential caucuses
Topeka Republicans and Democrats in Kansas both hope March 5 caucuses will lure serious contenders for their parties' 2016 presidential nominations to the state.
Each party's executive director said Monday that it picked a Saturday for its contest to lessen the chances that prospective voters would have to miss work to participate. The date also is only four days after Super Tuesday, when a dozen states are expected to have caucuses or primaries.
"The idea is that if somebody wants momentum, they'll come here," Clay Barker, the Kansas GOP's executive director, said of the presidential candidates.
Kerry Gooch, the Kansas Democratic Party's executive director, said his party picked March 5 because of plans by Nebraska Democrats to have caucuses that day. Having contests in neighboring states could draw candidates to the region, he said.
"We wanted a big draw on that day," he said.
Each state party plans to use the caucus results to allocate delegates to its national nominating convention among its presidential candidates. Kansas has 40 delegates to the Republican convention and 37 to the Democratic convention.
The GOP's State Committee set the date for its caucuses during a meeting this weekend in Manhattan. Democrats' state Executive Committee set the party's date in May and plans to outline exactly how delegates will be allocated during the party's annual Demofest convention in Wichita next month.
Kansas legislators earlier this year repealed a law that scheduled a state-administered primary for the first Tuesday in April. The state last held such an election in 1992, and lawmakers have canceled every one since, largely because of the cost, now estimated at $1.8 million. Repealing the law leaves the parties to administer caucuses at their own expense.
About 30,000 Republicans participated in Kansas caucuses in 2012, picking former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum over eventual presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a wide margin.
In 2008, about 37,000 Kansas Democrats — far more than anticipated — braved wintry early-February weather to give eventual presidential nominee Barack Obama an easy victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton.