A once mandatory huddle of Republican candidates for President has been canceled by the Iowa GOP for 2015 amid concerns over its political relevance, as the decision may end up boosting an alternate Republican gathering set for early August in Atlanta, Georgia.
“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,” said Iowa Republican Party chairman Jeff Kaufman.
“This step, while extremely distasteful for those of us who love the Straw Poll, is necessary to strengthen our First in the Nation status,” Kaufmann added.
It was a big switch for Kaufmann, who back in May had publicly attacked Jeb Bush, after the former Florida Governor made clear he would not be participating in the Iowa Straw Poll. Others though also began to question the event, which began in 1979 as a way to focus attention on the Iowa Caucuses.
The move may mean a number of Republicans will instead go from the first official GOP debate in Cleveland on August 6 down to Atlanta, where talk show host Erick Erickson will be hosting his Red State political gathering.
“What started as a political novelty in the seventies, became a mafia like shakedown of Republican candidates,” Erickson wrote soon after the announcement, shedding no tears about the demise of the Iowa Straw Poll.
“Now you guys have no choice,” Erickson said, urging Republican candidates to show up at his RedState gathering, set for August 6-9.