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Jeb Bush to Skip Iowa Straw Poll, State GOP Chair Irate

By    |   Tuesday, 12 May 2015 06:47 PM

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will pass on the Iowa Straw Poll in August for the RedState Gathering in Atlanta — and Iowa Republican officials are mad about it.

"We hope Governor Bush rethinks his decision and realizes that grassroots will only grow in Iowa if he waters them," Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann told Newsmax in a statement on Tuesday. "The RedState Gathering is a four-day event and other candidates have already indicated that they will be attending both.

"We don’t buy this excuse and neither will Iowans," Kaufmann said.

An Iowa party spokesman told Newsmax that officials had only learned of Bush’s decision from news reports.

A Bush spokeswoman confirmed to Newsmax Tuesday that the former governor would not be visiting the Hawkeye State and will go to Atlanta instead. The news was first reported by The Des Moines Register.

Bush, who said in December that he was considering a run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, is the first visible candidate — declared or not — to decline the straw poll, to be held on Aug. 8.

The move also comes as the poll itself is under attack as an ineffective gauge for picking ultimate presidential candidates, the Register reports. Iowa holds its GOP caucuses on Feb. 2.

The RedState gathering, to be held Aug. 6-9, will feature speeches from declared GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, editor Erick Erickson said on Tuesday. Other confirmed speakers include hopefuls Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin; and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Declared candidates Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida also have been invited, Erickson said, as has former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

In addition, Bush's decision comes as recent polls show his support trailing in Iowa. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed Bush placing seventh in Iowa among a bevy of possible challengers, with Walker on top with 21 percent.

But the Real Clear Politics average of polls places Bush ahead of the field with 15.5 percent — followed by Rubio, with 14.3 percent.

Bush appeared to be laying the groundwork for a strong showing in Iowa earlier this year, Talking Points Memo reports.

David Kochel, a Mitt Romney top adviser with deep ties to the state who had recently served as a top aide to Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, who was elected in November, joined the Bush effort.

According to the Register, the Republican Party of Iowa has been working to enhance the straw poll’s reputation and attract candidates by addressing several issues.

Last week, for instance, the party said that it would provide free tent space and utilities for the campaigns.

The straw poll also has been slammed as having outsized importance — and some losing candidates have dropped out of the race after showing poor outcomes, the Register reports.

Campaigns have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at the straw poll as a test for the Iowa caucuses, according to the report.

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will pass on the Iowa Straw Poll in August for the RedState Gathering in Atlanta — and Iowa Republican officials are mad about it.
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Tuesday, 12 May 2015 06:47 PM
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