Iowa GOP finalizes Ames straw poll ballot

Nine declared presidential candidates made the cut when the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee decided today who would appear on the ballot for the August 13 Ames straw poll. Those candidates are Representatives Michele Bachmann, Thaddeus McCotter, and Ron Paul, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. There will be a write-in line for attendees who want to express their support for someone else.

Central committee members were evenly split over whether former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Texas Governor Rick Perry’s names should also be listed on the straw poll ballot. Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn cast the tie-breaking vote for not including them. O.Kay Henderson posted a good write-up of the debate during the committee meeting.  

Only six candidates (Paul, Bachmann, McCotter, Santorum, Cain and Pawlenty) paid for tent space outside the straw poll venue. A 527 group called Americans for Perry was not allowed to rent space for the event, according to the group’s executive director, Craig Schoenfeld. He was one of the Gingrich staffers who quit as a group in early June.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that three declared GOP presidential candidates will not appear on the Ames straw poll ballot. Longtime campaign operative and gay rights advocate Fred Karger officially launched his campaign in March. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson joined the race in April. Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer announced his candidacy this past week.

SECOND UPDATE: Iowa GOP State Central Committee member David Chung described what happened at Saturday’s meeting here. I agree with him that investing in the straw poll would have been a good investment for Karger. (He would have received more attention in Ames than he did by running a few television ads here last November.)  However, I can also understand why Karger wouldn’t want to spend $15,000 in campaign funds on a donation to the Iowa GOP after the way RNC member Steve Scheffler has communicated with him and excluded him. Chung suggested that the committee should have adopted criteria for inclusion on the ballot instead of a list of names. He added,

So, why did Johnson and Roemer not make the cut? The real reason is that no one in the room felt passionately enough that they should be on the ballot to suggest it. My sense is had someone suggested adding them, the SCC would have done it.

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