The Republican Party of Iowa has gotten bids from four different sites in central Iowa competing to be the host of the Iowa GOP’s Straw Poll this summer. Jeff Kaufmann, the Iowa GOP’s chairman, says the second Saturday in August is the likely date for the event.
“That’s one part of the tradition we’d like to keep in terms of having it in August, so August 8 is still our target date,” Kaufmann told Radio Iowa today. “…I can’t say absolutely that if there was once heck of a deal and a great site and they absolutely couldn’t do it on August 8, but my understanding is all of these facilities would be available at that time.”
The six previous Iowa Straw Polls have been held in Ames and the Iowa State Center has submitted a bid to host the 2015 event, but Drake University in Des Moines is now competing to play host. The two other prospective sites are The Iowa Speedway in Newton and the Central Iowa Expo site near Boone that hosts the Farm Progress Show.
Critics have complained the Straw Poll gives Iowa’s Republicans two chances to winnow the field of prospective candidates at the start of the presidential nominating season. Even Republican Governor Terry Branstad suggested it might be time to end the Straw Poll, but the party’s state central committee voted unanimously in January to hold it again and made clear the event might not be staged in Ames.
“We heard loud and clear from rank and file Republicans from all over the state and actually from a lot of people that aren’t even Republicans that enjoy Iowa traditions that they wanted the Straw Poll,” Kaufmann told Radio Iowa. “…I really believe this has made its way to become an Iowa tradition in the fullest sense of the word.”
A site selection committee that includes Kaufmann and six other members of the party’s governing board will meet tonight to begin reviewing the bids. The group will pare the list down to two and visit both sites. Kaufmann hopes to have the State Central Committee vote to ratify the site location at its next meeting in March.
Officials from the Amana Colonies and the University of Iowa reached out to Iowa GOP officials to ask about the process of submitting a bid to host the Straw Poll this summer, but ultimately chose not to do so.