There is a phone conference call for Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee members this Friday to discuss progress on the Iowa Straw Poll that is scheduled to be held on August 8th at the Central Iowa Expo near Boone. There is speculation that a vote will be taken to cancel it due to decreased participation from presidential candidates. The candidates are the ones who will determine whether or not it is a successful event. So far we have:
- Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Mike Huckabee said they would not participate.
- Rick Santorum said he would attend, but wasn’t planning on spending money.
- Scott Walker hasn’t indicated whether he would attend or not. Rand Paul has not made a commitment either.
- Donald Trump has said he wouldn’t do the straw poll if everyone backs out.
- The candidates who had representation at the informational meeting on May 28th: Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry and Donald Trump.
There is concern that there will not be enough candidate participation to make it a viable event since it is an expensive event to hold. The recent changes to the event reduces the amount of money candidates would have to spend, but in the past the numbers were driven by candidates purchasing tickets. It is uncertain whether or not there would be as much activist participation as a result of fewer candidates participating.
On May 29th 156 county Republican leaders from 92 counties offered a defense of the straw poll. Also a recent poll conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics showed 51% of Republicans believe candidates should attend the straw poll. Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) has been trying to convince candidates to attend, and was instrumental in the vote in January to preserve the traditional event. U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said at her fundraiser on Saturday (at the same venue as the Iowa Straw Poll) that candidates should attend. That still may not be enough to convince them.
State Central Committee member Bill Gustoff confirmed the phone meeting, but not whether there would be a vote.
“At this point, the agenda for the meeting this Friday is an update on planning for the Iowa Straw Poll. Although we certainly may take action on the event, no vote is scheduled,” Gustoff told Caffeinated Thoughts.
“The Iowa Straw Poll is a great tradition and a favorite quadrennial event of party activists of all stripes. It is also very expensive and a major undertaking on the part of RPI’s staff to plan, coordinate, and execute the event. I have concerns about whether there is sufficient interest in the event to make it successful and ensure that it is a helpful step in vetting candidates on our way to electing a Republican President in 2016,” Gustoff said.
“I look forward to hearing how preparations are coming and the getting latest responses likely participants from those most directly involved in the planning. I love the Iowa Straw Poll, but I am not opposed to abandoning it if the interest is lacking among the potential candidates and attendees to ensure that it is a successful event,” Gustoff added.