Every four years the national spotlight shines on Iowa. We have the First in the Nation Caucuses which plays an important role in launching the presidential candidates. The first step, though, is the straw poll.
Thousands flock to Ames every four years to cast their vote in an election that isn't even an election. The Iowa Straw Poll is a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa. But it also tests the candidates' organizational skills early in the race.
Now, Gov. Branstad is at odds with other top Republicans in the state for the future of this poll.
"Then it became a really big money thing, and now I think it's become less relevant in light of the last couple of elections," Branstad said at his weekly news conference.
"It doesn't decide who will win the Iowa Caucuses but it will decide who will not," said conservative radio host Steve Deace. He believes the republican mainstay will continue seeing as Branstad has no direct power in deciding its fate.
"I don't know why it's a good thing for the Republican Party," Deace said. "I don't know why that's a good thing for our issues. And I certainly don't know why it's a good thing for the state in terms of visibility and resources to draw away an attraction like that."
The governor would prefer several smaller regional fundraisers.
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman AJ Spiker said in a statement it's premature to discuss what will happen. "I believe the Iowa Straw Poll is possibly the best way for a presidential campaign to organize... I think it is detrimental for any campaign to skip the opportunity presented in Ames, and I disagree with Gov. Branstad about ending our Iowa Straw Poll."
Story County GOP Chairman Cory Adams believes the straw poll could come down a notch in grandeur but would be sad to see it go as it is a fundraiser and gives Ames a huge economic boost.
The Iowa Straw Poll has been around for 33 years.