With the strong possibility of a competitive primary for governor, there are no shortages of opinion about whether or not primaries are good. Lost in this discussion though are the positives and negatives of the method of accessing the primary ballot the candidate uses. To discuss one subject, you must discuss the other; and since the latter hasn’t gotten as much attention lately, I figured we could discuss it.
Colorado is one of the view states that use the caucus system for candidates to access the primary ballot. Community meetings are held for each precinct, and committed supporters for each candidate work to get selected as delegates to county, congressional, state, etc. conventions in the hopes of casting ballots for their guy or gal. At these conventions, candidates are automatically placed on the primary ballot if they receive 30% or more of the vote. They can petition onto the ballot if they receive at least 10%, but below 30%. If you get less then 10%, sorry you’re done. Better luck next time.
If the caucus system doesn’t sound good to you-don’t despair! As a candidate, you can bypass the system and gather a certain number of signatures to access the ballot.
But is one system better?
Most states use the second method of gathering signatures. It does force a candidate to show support by being able to get a few hundred (or thousand) signatures to get onto a ballot, and the primary begins! However, some feel that this approach is impersonal and doesn’t help a candidate cultivate the grassroots organization needed to win an election.
Caucuses, its supporters would say, allows activists greater access to candidates (as the candidates will know ahead of time who the delegates will be), and helps the grassroots organization be organized. Some also believe that the caucus system allows more candidates to campaign for an office as a caucus system is relatively inexpensive. However, those who do not support the system believe that the nomination is or can be decided by the exact same people each time, or “insiders”-the ones who always seem to attend the caucuses and each nominating convention.
Where do you stand? Do you support one system over the other? Will your potential support for a candidate be affected if they choose to access the ballot through another avenue?