Idaho sets Jan. 6 GOP presidential straw poll
By Betsy Z. Russell The Spokesman-Review
BOISE - Idaho’s Republican Party has scheduled its first-ever presidential straw poll in Boise on Jan. 6, and is hoping to attract the candidates to the Gem State to woo Idaho Republicans.
“This is a non-binding straw poll, but this is really an effort to bring the presidential candidates out to Idaho to address our issues,” said party Executive Director Jonathan Parker, “to get to know Idahoans, and hopefully plant some seeds for the March 6th caucuses to determine to which candidate Idaho will send its 32 delegates.”
He noted that Idaho’s delegate count to the national GOP nominating convention is “more than Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.”
The straw poll will be held at the Riverside Hotel in Boise on a Friday; any Idaho resident who wants to be a registered Republican can buy a $30 ticket and participate. “They will just need to contact state party headquarters to reserve their ticket ahead of time, or they can just pay at the door,” Parker said. “People that show up, purchase a ticket, we’ll be registering them as a Republican as well.”
Idaho will have party registration for the 2012 elections for the first time in its history, after lawmakers changed the state’s election system this year in response to a lawsuit from the GOP, which wanted to close its party primaries to anyone other than registered Republicans.
This year also will mark a change for the party in its presidential delegate selection; rather than selecting delegates in the primary election, it will join the Idaho Democratic Party in holding party caucuses.
The straw poll idea was approved by the party’s executive committee last summer; it’ll be held in conjunction with the party central committee’s winter meeting, which will take place the Saturday following the Friday straw poll.
“This is the first-of-its-kind event” for the party, Parker said. “I imagine a pretty good crowd will be in attendance. … We anticipate the presidential candidates themselves will want to get their supporters to the event.”
GOP presidential candidates will get an opportunity to address the crowd at the straw poll, and also to have booths in a lobby area outside to “hand out material and basically to woo our voters for the straw poll,” he said.