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May 19th, 2011

Nine Campaigns, Including Romney, Attend First Straw Poll Meeting

By Craig Robinson

Earlier this afternoon, the Republican Party of Iowa held its first meeting in advance of the Iowa Straw Poll.  On the agenda for today’s meeting was introducing RPI staff to the various presidential campaigns, discussing the meeting process, and reviewing the initial rules and layout of the event.

The meeting provides us with the first glimpse of which campaigns are planning to participate in the event.  In attendance at today’s meeting were representatives of Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Roy Moore.  Also at the meeting were representatives for Mitt Romney’s campaign.

Thus far, Romney has indicated that he will not aggressively campaign in Iowa like he did four years ago.  Many expect Romney to bypass this year’s straw poll, but with Mike Huckabee out of the picture, his campaign may either be giving Iowa a second look, or they are merely trying to gleam information from the other campaigns by attending the meeting.

The Iowa Straw Poll has historically played two significant rolls in the Iowa Caucus process.  First, it winnows the field of candidates.  In the last two contests, the candidates who finished in third place never made it to caucus day.  In 1999, Elizabeth Dole’s disappointing performance ended her campaign, and the same was true for Sam Brownback in 2007.

The event also has proven to be an indicator of who will fare well in the Iowa caucuses.  George H. W. Bush won the first Iowa Straw Poll in 1979, and he went on to win the caucuses that year.  The only time that the top two finishers at the Straw Poll were not the top two finishers in the caucuses was in 1995, when Phil Gramm tied with Bob Dole.  Gramm’s campaign ended when he lost the Louisiana Caucuses to Pat Buchanan right before Iowa.

While this straw poll meeting signifies a starting point for the planning the event, the date to keep an eye on is June 23rd.  That is the date that campaigns will have to bid for space at the event.  Only then will the party know who is actually committed to playing in the Straw Poll.

Campaign Representatives:

Michele Bachmann:

State Senator Kent Sorenson (Bachmann State Chairman)
Wes Enos (Michele PAC Staffer)

Herman Cain:

Tina Goff (Cain Iowa Staffer)

Newt Gingrich:

Craig Schoenfeld (Iowa Gingrich Campaign Manager)

Fred Karger:

Nathan Trealor (Karger Iowa Campaign Manager)

Judge Roy Moore:

Danny Carroll (Lobbyist for The FAMiLY Leader)
Tom Steen (Former COO of The Iowa Family Policy Center)

Ron Paul:

David Fischer (Vice Chairman Iowa Paul Campaign)
Ani DeGroot (Regional Director Iowa Paul Campaign)
Rachel Kania (Regional DirectorI Iowa Paul Campaign)

Note: Fischer was there in his capacity as a State Central Committee member.

Tim Pawlenty:

Annie Kelly (Deputy Director Iowa Pawlenty Campaign)

Mitt Romney:

Sara Craig (Iowa Campaign Manager)
David Kochel (Iowa Romney Adviser)

Rick Santorum:

Cody Brown (Iowa Campaign Manager)

Iowa GOP Staff:

Chad Olsen – Executive Director
Derek Flowers – Straw Poll Coordinator
Matt Gronewald – Deputy Executive Director

Previous Campaign Connections

Olsen: Phil Gramm, Steve Forbes, Tommy Thompson
Flowers: Mitt Romney 2008
Gronewald: John McCain 2008

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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