By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4)– They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothing. Twelve states, including Colorado, are holding caucuses or primaries next Tuesday.
But Colorado is the only one where Republicans won’t be weighing in on who the nominee for president should be after the state party’s executive committee decided to cancel the presidential preference poll.
“We’re talking about the presidency here and I think if you see what’s happening and some questions happening in other states with caucuses and straw polls that concerns me,” says Colorado Republican Party Chair Steve House.
He says the decision to eliminate the poll comes after the Republican National Committee made preference polls binding, meaning the state’s delegates are required to vote at the national convention for the candidate who wins the caucus. In the past, delegates could change their votes.
“How do you run a straw poll in a way that honors the process being done right without any shenanigans, without any issues? I still believe if you’re going to bind your delegates to candidate that may very well be the next president of United States you should do it with a voting process that we all know and believe in. That’s why we advocate that a presidential primary is a good idea,” said House.
“This is an idea both my Republican counterpart and I agree on,” says Rick Palacio, the head of the Colorado Democratic Party.
He’s worked for years on bringing back a presidential primary, but he says caucuses are still key.
“It’s democracy at its finest. I mean you’re meeting in people’s living rooms and churches and schools across the state and talking not just about who their supporting for president but the platform for the democratic party, talking about state legislative races and county commissions.”
The state Democratic Party also won’t award any delegates Tuesday night, but it will do a straw poll, and Palacio says enthusiasm is high.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook. We’ve had to call in extra volunteers just to tell try to tell people where their caucus location is.”
The poll itself is rather informal – people show up, divide into Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders groups and volunteers count them up.
But, because the results are reported to the media, both democratic candidates have campaigned here.
With the exception of Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the race, Republican candidates haven’t held public events in Colorado, yet.
“In the end, Colorado will get so much attention in the general election that it’s just going to be crazy,” says House.
The caucuses are the first of a four step process in choosing a nominee.
Typically, only about two to three percent of either party attends the caucuses, another argument for a primary.
Primaries are expensive but there are two proposed ballot measures to establish open primary elections in Colorado… meaning unaffiliated voters could participate too. Only Coloradans who registered as a Democrat or Republican as of Jan. 4 can participate in the caucuses.