Presidential Voting at Caucuses Could Cause Problems for Republicans

Last year, Colorado Republicans eliminated their nonbinding caucus votes on presidential candidates, but the voting will go on anyway, "for fun," in Adams County, according to Adams Country GOP chair Anil Mathai.

Two Denver caucuses, in state house districts two and six, will also hold informal votes, according to a post by GOP activist Florence Urbish Sebern in a Facebook post..

The question is, will the Republicans who participate in these straw polls, and then go on to become delegates to the National Republican Convention, be able to vote for a candidate other than the one they favored in their "for-fun" straw-poll vote.

"Those delegates would not be disqualified," wrote Josh Putnam, an expert on the caucus process, when asked if Colorado delegates would be banned from voting under GOP rules. "If anything, the worst that could happen is that any delegate chosen from that county would be bound at the convention. And that would depend on one of that group actually being chosen to attend the national convention."

Putnam emphasizes that many GOP delegates from Colorado could go to the national Republican convention committed to supporting specific presidential candidates. (I've explained this here.)

"There are a lot of folks who are peddling this fiction that CO (& WY) will have unbound delegations," Putnam explains on Twitter. "This is not the case."

"The members of the Colorado delegation to Cleveland who align with a candidate when they file to run as a delegate are bound to that candidate," writes Putnam, who's a lecturer in the Department of Political Science the University of Georgia--and whose blog is widely cited. "Presumably even if that candidate drops out (as there are no rules in the COGOP bylaws covering such an event). That's all based on the RNC interpretation of the COGOP rules."

Adams County Republican Chair Anil Mathai announced his county's straw poll on KLZ 560-AM's Rush to Reason.

"Across the state, there is no straw poll, but in Adams County we have a non-binding unofficial 'for fun' straw poll," said Mathai on air. "I want to hear the voice of the people. So we will have one for U.S.presidential candidates as of Feb. 1 and also one for U.S. Senate candidates out of Colorado."

"In Adams County, we're just doing it for fun," Mathai emphasized again at the end of the interview.

But whether Mathai's notion of fun comports with the Republican rules is another matter. Initially, the statewide GOP straw poll was supposed to be nonbinding as well. But the national Republican Party told Colorado Republicans that if they held a straw poll, it had to be binding. So Colorado Republicans decided against having one.

It looks like the unofficial straw polls could cause problems for some Republicans down the road, if the national convention is close and national Republicans start snooping around.

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