DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Straw Poll is canceled... at least for this year.
Friday morning, The Iowa Republican Party State Central Committed unanimously voted to cancel the decades old fundraising event. The 18 - person State Central Committee made its decision based on lack of candidate attendance.
"I'm disappointed. I'm very disappointed. I wanted this to happen but I'm not going to chastise candidates for doing what they think is best for their political campaigns," said party chairman, Jeff Kaufmann.
The party sent out invitations to declared and potential republican candidates last month, however Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum said they would skip the August 8th event. No candidates RSVP-ed the Straw Poll. There were also numerous complaints the Straw Poll results do not reflect actual votes in the Iowa Caucus several months later. However, Kaufmann believes the candidates opted out due to financial reasons and or political strategy.
"So without candidates, we were not going to be able to break even. There comes a decision when you have to ask yourself, 'When does passionate advocacy for an event actually turn to trying to force people to come?'" he said.
Despite Governor Branstad's stance on the events irrelevance, the party insisted it would hold the Straw Poll at a venue in rural Boone, a cheaper option than the previous location in Ames. A statement from the Governor's office said, "The Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee made a decision based on what they believed was best for the party and the Iowa Caucus. The governor will continue to support the party to elect Republicans up and down the ballot and maintain Iowa’s first in the nation Iowa Caucuses."
The 36 - year - old fundraising event, made efforts to make it more affordable for the candidates to participate. The party claims it will not be financially affected by the events absence due to previous fundraising efforts.
The event is only cancelled for 2015 however the State Central Committee will decide next presidential cycle if it will be terminated for good.
"I think you gotta take it year by year. We canceled the event for 2015," he said. "In eight years I believe that another central committee is going to listen to what people said," said Kaufmann.