Maine’s Republican presidential caucuses were laced with controversy this year after candidates and voters charged that the entire process had been rigged to favor former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Many of the complaints stemmed from a decision by the state party’s hierarchy to exclude Washington County Republicans after a storm delayed a scheduled vote. Now a state senator from Washington County is advancing a bill that would give state party committees the option of holding a presidential primary instead of a caucus. Last month, Senate President Kevin Raye, a Republican from the Washington County town of Perry, was flabbergasted to learn state GOP party officials had declared Mitt Romney as the winner of a preferential poll without even considering the caucus votes of Washington County Republicans.
The vote in eastern Maine was delayed because of a snow storm and many Maine Republicans–particularly those supporting presidential candidate Ron Paul–thought the poll results were an intentional effort to give Romney an edge over his rivals. Although much of the outrage over the poll has died down, it remains an issue for Raye, who brought his bill to the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.
“Caucuses have been controversial in the past, but I think that this year’s caucuses sort of focused people’s attention, crystallized it for many folks,” Raye said. Raye has submitted an emergency after-deadline bill to allow Maine’s state party committees to have the option of holding a presidential primary rather than the current less formal caucus system. It would be held the week after New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primaries with delegates to the parties’ national conventions allocated to the top candidates in proportion with the voting results.
Full Article: Maine Senate President Proposes Presidential Primary.