State GOP moves away from winner-take-all presidential primary
Published 3:45 pm, Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The Land of Steady Habits, as Connecticut is known, is trying to position itself to get back in good stead with the GOP presidential contenders.
To entice the likes of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry not to blow off Connecticut, GOP leaders voted Tuesday night to change the state's presidential preference primary from a strictly winner-take-all contest to a system that allows delegates to be awarded proportionately in time for the 2012 election.
"My belief is this could make Connecticut a little more attractive to our Republican presidential candidates in terms of their attention," Jerry Labriola Jr., the state's GOP chairman, told Greenwich Time in an interview Wednesday.
The measure passed the Republican State Central Committee with 52 of 78 votes, the minimum required for a change in party bylaws to take effect.
The move comes after the General Assembly decided this year to move Connecticut's presidential primaries from Super Tuesday in early February to the last Tuesday in April to join New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The 2012 primaries are scheduled for April 24 in Connecticut.
The new primary format is modeled after one used by Mississippi, which uses a hybrid of a winner-take-all and proportional system of awarding delegates.
"They're calling it the Mississippi compromise," Labriola said.
The winner of the Republican contest can capture up to 25 delegates under a winner-take-all scenario if he or she receives at least 50 percent of the statewide vote and carries all five congressional districts, which each count for three delegates.
But a candidate who fails to reach the 50 percent statewide threshold will be forced to share 10 of the 25 delegates on a proportional basis with the rest of the candidates who garner at least 20 percent of the GOP vote.
"There's a group of people at State Central that felt going to proportional would help us to be more competitive," said Gary Schaffrick, a Bristol Republican who authored the proposal with Michael Garrett of Bridgeport.
The last time the state GOP amended its bylaws for a primary was 1996, when it moved from a proportional system to a winner-take-all contest to help Bob Dole.
States are trending away from winner-take-all primaries, however.
"I think the interest is in sort of making Connecticut more of a player in the presidential sweepstakes," said Edward Dadakis, who represents Greenwich and parts of Stamford and New Canaan on the State Central Committee.
-- Staff writer Neil Vigdor can be reached at email@example.com or at 203-625-4436.