Welcome to the first edition of The 101, and a description of Colorado’s caucus and assembly process.
What is a caucus? It’s a precinct-level meeting of Republicans or Democrats that begins the nomination process for the June 26 Colorado primary. Caucus meetings are the first step in a multi-level nominating process that includes county, state, congressional and legislative district assemblies.
When do they happen? Democrats and Republicans will hold caucus meetings on the evening of March 6, typically from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
How do I participate? First, you need to be registered as a Democrat or Republican by Monday, Jan. 8. If you have a valid Colorado drivers license or identification card, you may register online. If you’re already registered and want to switch parties, you may change your affiliation online. You may find the location of your precinct caucus by consulting your county or state political party website.
How does this process work? Participants at precinct level caucuses elect precinct-level party leaders, as well as delegates to county assemblies that are held in March and early April. There’s a lot of talk about platform issues as well.
At county assemblies, delegates will vote on who to place on the ballot for countywide office, as well as many legislative contests. Delegates to congressional and state level assemblies also will be selected at the county assembly.
Candidates for congressional and state-level primaries will be selected at their respective assemblies. Both parties will hold their state assemblies on Saturday April 14.
Why are caucuses important? For candidates – especially in competitive state, legislative and congressional races – the caucus is the first step of getting on the ballot (if a candidate goes that route). A strong caucus showing indicates grassroots strength for a candidate, as well as a potential source of volunteers.
Key concept: Candidates vying at various assemblies must receive at least 30 percent of delegate votes. That means a maximum of three candidates may be placed on the ballot at the assemblies.
Is this the only way for a candidate to make the primary ballot? No. Candidates may also petition on to the primary ballot. We’ll have more info on that process in a couple of weeks.
Do other states use the caucus process? Yes, about a dozen other states employ the caucus system in one way or another. The most famous example is Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential-year caucuses, where presidential preference polls at the precinct level determine delegates for presidential candidates to the national convention.
Here’s a tweet from now U.S. Rep. Ken Buck from the 2014 caucuses.
— Ken Buck (@BuckForColorado) March 5, 2014
Have other questions? Add them in the comments below and we’ll answer. Or email fish(at)copolitics.co