Closing primaries may not be easy, said former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is also a former RNC chairman held in high regard by most of the national party’s rank and file.
“There was a time, many years ago, when some of us in the GOP advocated party registration and closed primaries,” Mr. Barbour said. “It went nowhere in the state legislature and the public didn’t like it. I believe today the public still prefers open primaries.”
Three states render the idea of a political party even more meaningless, some critics said, by holding “blanket” or “jungle” open primaries. In Louisiana, Washington and California, all candidates for the same office, regardless of party affiliation, run against one another simultaneously in one nonpartisan primary. The top two finishers then face off in the general election. Supporters say this process tends to favor more centrist candidates in both parties over more ideological rivals.
“There are probably some voters who would prefer a Louisiana-style open primary — not a majority and certainly not me,” Mr. Barbour said.
“For decades, the Mississippi Republican Party has said, including in our platform in years past, ‘We are the Party of the Open Door.’ We welcome anyone who wants to participate in our party,” Mr. Barbour told The Times in an email.