CHICAGO - As Republican leaders from throughout the country gather in Chicago, some are arguing that a party which allows its opponents to help pick its candidates in an “open” primary is a PPINO — a “political party in name only.”
According to Ralph Hallow of the Washington Times, Republican National Committee (RNC) members and activists are still seething about reports that longtime Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi Republican, enlisted Democrats to help him win his tough primary contest this summer against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who was backed by the tea party.
GOP Chairman Reince Priebus shares their sentiments, but the prospects for changing state laws are unclear.
Currently, 27 states let independents and Democrats help pick Republican candidates for general elections. The reason usually is not the desire of the state GOP but rather that the state legislature has mandated open primaries or requires no party registration.
“I have been a longtime supporter of closed primaries to choose our candidates for office,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told The Washington Times at the three-day gathering in the Windy City. “This is a position I have held for a long time and is consistent with the party’s platform.”
Political parties have been weakening steadily over the past 40 years, and Republican primaries that are open to independents and Democrats in more than half of the states don’t give voters much reason to pick one party over the other, aside from ideological views.
About 25 percent of voters identify themselves as Republicans, 31 percent as Democrats and 42 percent as independents, according to the most recent Gallup poll on the subject.