- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2015

The Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee dealt the final fatal blow to the 2015 Iowa Straw Poll, unanimously voting Friday morning to cancel the event.

The party had been working to overhaul the format of the event, an Iowa staple since 1979 that has presented an unofficial kickoff to the presidential campaign season in the early caucus state.

“I’ve said since December that we would only hold a straw poll if the candidates wanted one, and this year that is just not the case,” party chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement. “This step, while extremely distasteful for those of us who love the Straw Poll, is necessary to strengthen our first in the nation status and ensure our future nominee has the best chance possible to take back the White House in 2016.”

The party had taken steps to make changes to the format, including moving the event from Ames to Boone to lower costs and getting rid of the “lot auction” for space and bringing in more outside food vendors.

But GOP presidential candidates like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, as well as potential contender former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, had already indicated they planned to skip this year’s event.

The straw poll taken at the event has not always served as the best predictor of future success, either; former Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, won it in 2011 and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won it in 2007.

And for some, it seemingly carries more potential for risk than reward. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took himself out of the 2012 race for the GOP presidential nomination soon after finishing third in the 2011 straw poll. Fromer Texas Rep. Ron Paul was second in 2011.

“Canceling the event is not a decision anyone on the State Central Committee took lightly, and I commend them for the thorough, thoughtful job they’ve done,” Mr. Kaufmann said. “Iowa is first in the nation because of our strong grassroots tradition and because we believe in a process that gives equal chance to all candidates. We also believe in hosting a process that puts our candidates in the best position possible to win the White House in 2016.”

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