Vail Daily editorial: Let’s have a primary
Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race to be the Republican nominee for president, has been doing a lot of barking lately over the purported unfairness surrounding the Colorado Republican Party’s method of selecting delegates to the party’s national convention this summer.
Trump’s growling is balderdash. The fact of the matter is that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz worked our state’s Byzantine party machinery better and reaped the benefit — to the tune of virtually all of the state’s Republican delegates to the party’s summer convention.
Much the same thing happened recently in Wyoming, which has a similar system, in which party members gather in groups to nominate delegates to the county, then state, conventions.
The Democrats have a similar system, but reported a delegate preference after the March 1 precinct caucuses. That party’s state convention went roughly the same way the local caucuses did, handing most of the state’s delegates to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Trump’s grumbling aside, there was nothing underhanded or anti-democratic about this process. In fact, the caucus system far predates presidential preference primaries. And, from all accounts, Cruz took the time and spent the effort to benefit.
With all that said, it’s far past time for both of the state’s major parties to hold honest-to-goodness presidential primaries. Trump’s claim of Cruz’s “voterless victories” is flat wrong. But, while our country is a representative republic, not a direct democracy, the idea of “one person, one vote” resonates deeply with Americans of all political persuasions.
But creating a new presidential primary in Colorado is going to require help from the Colorado Legislature and the parties.
Colorado held just a couple of presidential primaries before going back to the caucus system. The biggest hangup — aside from having a relative dearth of delegates and the inability to find a place on the calendar to make choosing those candidates nationally significant — is money.
While people from the parties occupy virtually all state offices, the parties are private organizations. Switching from a caucus to a primary would cost millions, and the parties and the Legislature can’t agree who should pay for those elections (hint: it should be the parties, not state taxpayers). That said, it’s long past time to find a way to fund a presidential primary. It can’t be that hard, and we do have a few years to figure it out.
This surpassingly strange election year would be a good time to start.
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