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(AP) - Missouri Republicans will go later in making official choices for their presidential candidates, but they still will have influence in the race.
State law sets Missouri's presidential primary on Feb. 7. However, the Missouri Republican State Committee instead has chosen to award its delegates through a caucus process that starts March 17 to avoid running afoul of national party rules. The national rules require Missouri to wait until March or risk losing half its delegates.
Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith says officials wanted to keep their maximum delegate strength. He says Missouri should get attention from presidential hopefuls.
Smith says he expects the state would start signaling its presidential preferences in March. Those preferences are expected to gel at the state's Republican congressional district conventions in April.
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