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Iowa Politics Roundup: Perry, Palin Excluded from Ames Straw Poll Ballot PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Hannah Hess and Lynn Campbell   
Monday, 25 July 2011 10:10

The ballot for the August 13 Ames Straw Poll will include nine names, but former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Texas Governor Rick Perry are notably absent from the list.

By a 6-5 vote, members of Iowa’s Republican State Central Committee on Saturday determined that the final ballot will include former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

That’s in addition to the six candidates guaranteed a spot by spending at least $15,000 each to reserve space at the Ames Straw Poll: Minnesota U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, former Godfather’s Pizza Chief Executive Officer Herman Cain, Michigan U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter, Texas U.S. Representative Ron Paul, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

Perry and Palin were proposed for inclusion but rejected.

“Because they are not officially declared, then where do you draw the line?” asked Bill Schickel, Republican State Central Committee member.

Republican Party of Iowa Chair Matt Strawn cast the deciding vote in two rounds of ballot choices. First, the committee voted to exclude Palin and Perry. When Perry’s name was again raised for consideration, another 6-5 vote killed the proposal.

Ultimately, Schickel said, it came down to a matter of fairness.

National polls released Friday by CNN and Fox News showed increasing enthusiasm for Perry and Palin. However, neither officially has declared candidacy or formed an exploratory committee.

Other names not on the ballot included New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, and former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer.

Huntsman’s name was added despite his earlier announcement that he would not compete in Iowa. Romney, who is considered the national frontrunner, also said he would not actively compete in this year’s straw poll. Romney was the winner of the 2007 Ames Straw Poll, spending about $2 million in that effort.

All nine candidates on this year’s straw-poll ballot will be invited to participate in the nationally televised Republican presidential debate at Iowa State University in Ames two days prior to the straw poll.

The Ames Straw Poll, a fundraiser for the Republican Party, is considered a key test of a candidate’s organizational strength and campaign prowess. More than 14,000 Republicans cast ballots at the Ames Straw Poll in 2007. The event also draws hundreds of reporters and attention from the national media.

Republican National Committee member Steve Scheffler told last week that the committee was obligated to list candidates beyond the six who bought space for the straw poll to make the results a credible reflection of Iowans’ preferences.

Scheffler said the ballot “ought to include anyone deemed viable,” and he placed Perry and Palin in that category.

But committee members were divided Saturday on what criteria should be used to determine the names on the ballot. Time spent campaigning in Iowa, qualified candidacy, and popularity in national polls could be factors, they said.

Republican National Committee member Kim Lehman suggested only including people who had formed an exploratory committee for president, while State Central Committee member Trudy Caviness, of Ottumwa, said she had a hard time including candidates who hadn’t stepped up and said they’re in, according to live tweets from the meeting by Des Moines Register political columnist Kathie Obradovich.

In 2007, the State Central Committee placed former Tennessee U.S. Senator Fred Thompson on the ballot when he was still weeks away from declaring his candidacy. The committee also added New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain to the ballot, in addition to the eight who had reserved space at the Ames Straw Poll. – Hannah Hess