Ames straw poll news and discussion thread

The Republican Party of Iowa gets its first bite at the apple today, raking in money at the Ames straw poll event. Six presidential candidates who paid for space at the venue will speak to the crowd, along with five GOP elected officials and state party chairman Matt Strawn. I’ve posted the speaking schedule below and will update this post throughout the day.

Nine candidates will appear on the straw poll ballot: the eight who debated Thursday night plus Representative Thad McCotter of Michigan. Voting closes at 4 pm, but it may take Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz a long time to tabulate results because of the large number of expected write-ins. Speaking of Schultz, I noticed on the Secretary of State’s website yesterday that he has put out only one press release since his embarrassing smackdown of former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman two months ago. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board dismissed an ethics complaint that the Iowa Democratic Party filed regarding that press release.

Any comments about the spectacle are welcome in this thread, especially first-person accounts from Bleeding Heartland users who are in Ames today.

Which candidates, if any, will receive fewer votes than write-ins Sarah Palin, Texas Governor Rick Perry or “Rick Parry,” the name Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC is pushing? I expect McCotter will have a tough day. Don’t know who is supporting him besides former Iowa House Speaker Chris Rants, and he doesn’t have a huge following in the Iowa GOP anymore, to put it mildly. When McCotter bid for space at the straw poll, he probably wasn’t expecting to be left out of the Fox News debate. That plus the lack of time and money he’s spent in Iowa puts him at a big disadvantage.

If former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty does better than expected in the straw poll, he will owe thanks to a couple of outside groups. The American Petroleum Institute’s Iowa Energy Forum and Strong America Now both have organizational ties to the Pawlenty campaign. Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register discussed those connections and the outside groups’ work in greater detail here. Four years ago, Mike Huckabee’s Ames straw poll effort got a huge assist from Americans for Fair Taxation, helping Huckabee finish a close second to Mitt Romney.

UPDATE: News from the day is after the jump.

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Ames Straw Poll Contest

The folks over at IowaPolitics.com have launched another contest to reach out to online readers and bloggers with their Ames Straw Poll Contest.

Mike Schramm, the news editor at IowaPolitics.com, says “Whoever guesses closest to the actual finishing order wins a free year of our subscription service.”  To be honest, I’m not a subscriber to their service but I know some folks who are subscribers and appreciate the work they do.

Anyway, entries need to be submitted by Friday afternoon (because Saturday is the actual straw poll).  So go fill out the form and take a chance!

And yes, I realize that we’re all mostly Democrats and progressives here but this is at least a good way to have some fun and test your Republican political prowess.

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