Candidates can avoid a primary election by winning 60 percent or more of the delegate vote at the party convention. Jowers said that threshold should be raised to 80 percent.
And Jowers and other Republicans have also proposed circulating an initiative petition statewide to change the law to allow candidates to petition for a place on the primary ballot.
They set aside the effort to give lawmakers and party leaders a chance to make changes. Jowers noted the issue was not addressed in the just-concluded 2012 legislative session.
"It does take a little bit of 'profile in courage' for elected officials to take this step because right now, delegates do control elections," he said.
Dabakis said the only people being served by the system "are the extremist elements of the Republican Party that have completely taken over … much to the horror of many Republicans."
The Democratic Party leader said that's led to a lack of participation by both Democrats and Republicans. "They just throw up their hands and say it doesn't matter," he said.
Between now and the 2013 State Democratic Party Convention, Dabakis said he wants his party to consider everything from "dumping the caucuses entirely and having everything done through primaries, to leaving the system the way it is to tweaking it."
Wright said the GOP "doesn't want to be told by the government how we should be conducting our affairs" and said allowing candidates to petition for a place on the primary ballot would be a step backwards.
"The Republican Party will figure out its problems. It always has," Wright said. "What we don't know is if what we're going to do is going to make a difference. The only number that matters is how many people show up next week."
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