Here’s the condensed version: Unannounced candidate Rick Perry will NOT be on the Straw Poll Ballot. Nine “announced” presidential candidates — Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Thaddeus McCotter, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and Rich Santorum — will be on the ballot, along with a line for write-in candidates.
The Republican Party of Iowa’s state central committee convened this morning and one of the items on the agenda is to determine the names which will be printed on the ballot for their August 13 Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa.
Last time around — in August of 2007 — former Tennessee Senator/Hollywood actor Fred Thompson was heavily hinting at the time of the Straw Poll that he would enter the race, which he did in about a month later, in September. Thompson’s name was included on the 2007 Straw Poll ballot. This year’s “heavy hinter” is Texas Governor Rick Perry and the decision facing the party this cycle is whether his name will be on the ballot, along with another potential candidate who’s performing well in national polls — former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Also back in 2007 announced candidates Rudy Giuliani and John McCain announced in the spring that they would skip the Straw Poll, but both Giuliani and McCain were included on the ballot. This time around former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, a declared candidate, has indicated he’ll skip not only the Straw Poll, but he won’t mount a campaign in Iowa at all. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney — winner of the 2007 Straw Poll — has 2012 campaign people in the state, made a trip to Iowa in May and plans another in August before the Straw Poll, but he is not participating in the Straw Poll festivities, nor is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Six announced candidates for 2012 have paid to play in the Straw Poll festivities and if you look at the membership on the State Central Committee, top-Straw-Poll-property-bidder Ron Paul has a heavy influence on the panel with three key campaign staffers (including his campaign manager Drew Ivers) as members of the committee and another committee member has endorsed Paul. Wes Enos, a key organizer on Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign, is a member of the state central committee, too. Republican National Committeewoman Kim Lehman has endorsed Rick Santorum.
There are a couple of other announced GOP presidential candidates who may be in today’s ballot debate mix: former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson as well as retired political consultant Fred Karger, who is openly gay.
An Iowa GOP staffer told the central committee there are two ways to get on the ballot: 1.) to purchase space at the event AND have an FEC committee in place or 2.) be placed on the ballot by a decision of the state central committee. Six candidates meet that criteria: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Thaddeus McCotter, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum.
Central committee member Monte Shaw made a motion to add the names of Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich. (He listed those names in that order.) Shaw and Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler said it was about keeping the Iowa “relevant” in the national debate.
David Chung moved to amend Shaw’s motion to remove the names of Rick Perry and Sarah Palin. He suggested the bar ought to be “you should be a candidate” for POTUS. Another committee member suggested those who want to support those candidates — or any other — can use the “write in” line on the ballot.
Wes Enos suggested it was an “integrity issue” for the party — smacking every other announced candidate who is playing by the FEC rules in the face and showing that Iowa really doesn’t matter. (Enos is not going to vote on this motion, however, because he’s working for Bachmann.)
Shaw replied it was about giving activists in the state who support an undeclared candidate a chance to participate. Enos asked if that was the standard, then why not add Chris Christie or Mark Rubio to the ballot — but Enos said that was venturing into ridiculous territory.
Lehman suggested candidates who have “exploratory” committees or are polling well nationally should be on the ballot. Scheffler said it’s clear that Perry “probably will” run, whereas Christie has said he won’t. “If we don’t include some of these names that are thinking about it, it diminishes the relevancy of our Straw Poll,” Scheffler said. “…I’ve seen Sarah Palin’s people all over this state.”
Another committee member asked if write-in candidate tallies are reported. Strawn, the committee chairman, said yes. Heavens said she was not in favor of putting people’s names on the ballot if they’re not an announced candidate.
Gopal Krishna was next, talking about why the Straw Poll exists and suggesting the criteria for putting a name on the ballot should be the existence of an “exploratory committee” or the fact that the non-candidate/potential candidate polls highly in national polls.
Shaw called the Straw Poll an opportunity for candidates to show their organizational skills. “it’s a wonderful opportunity for our activists to experience a whole lot of candidates in one place..and it’s a good fundraiser for the party,” he said. It would “handcuff” the party, according to Shaw, if the criteria were to have at least an exploratory committee in place. Shaw suggested his list was including non-candidates who have said at least they’re considering jumping into the race and polling nationally at least one percent.
“If we loosen our criteria…you’re going to find that candidates in the future may not take us seriously,” Caviness said, adding those would skip Iowa because I have good name recognition.
Scheffler tried to offer a third-degree amendment (but that’s not allowed under Roberts Rules of Order). Lehman said the committee should use criteria rather than specific names.
A vote was taken on Chung’s amendment to the Shaw amendment, to take Perry and Palin’s names off the ballot. There was a tie, 5-5 vote as those who work on campaigns abstained. Strawn exercised his chair authority to weigh in, and voted yes, so Perry and Palin are off of Shaw’s amendment/line-up.
Next, Scheffler proposed an amendment to the Shaw amendment, asking that Perry’s name be added. Another committee member talked about recent national polls which show Perry has catapulted toward the top. Lehman asks if there’s a way to add a name if someone announces they’re running between now and August 13. Strawn weighs in that today is the day for setting the ballot and everyone in the political community knew of this deadline. “That’s fair enough,” Lehman added.
Krishna again argues for using criteria rather than just naming names. “We could be called racist. We could be called homophobic if we don’t use the right criteria. We are missing the point in just debating names,” Krishna said.
Shaw shot back. “This is not an election. This is a Straw Poll…we just turned it into a pretty big event,” Shaw said, arguing it was “baffling” to try to impose some “robotic system” for determining who’s name is on the ballot.
Krishna replied. “You are going to eat crow when we debate who’s going to be in the debate,” Krishna said, referencing an upcoming agenda item as the commitee will decide which candidates participate in the FOX News debate on August 11. “…This is not an opinion poll. This is a Straw Poll.”
John Ortega of Bettendorf argues for putting Perry on the ballot, because of recent opinion poll results.
There’s a vote. Lehman left the room before voting. Everyone’s waiting to see if Lehman “walked” to abstain or plans to vote. Lehman comes back in, says she’s not voting. Scheffler’s amendment failed. So, Shaw’s orginal amendment is passed. Neither Perry nor Palin will be on the ballot. Nine candidates will be on it, including Romney, Hunstman and Gingrich, all announced candidates who have said they’re not participating in the Straw Poll (meaning they didn’t pay the party for “party space” at the event) but who have active presidential campaign committees.