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Jon Huntsman second-to-last in Iowa straw poll

Published August 13, 2011 10:00 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman nabbed a measly 69 votes in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll, coming in second to last in what is billed as the first barometer of presidential candidates' standing among conservative voters.

While other candidates gave the straw poll a full-court press — the winner, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, handed out about 6,000 tickets to supporters — Huntsman chose not to compete in the event or for Iowa's caucuses, opting to keep his focus on winning contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

For not trying, however, Huntsman did find some support among voters who either paid $30 for a ticket, or used one provided by a rival campaign.

"To be honest, it's more than people thought he would get because there's no sign of a Huntsman campaign anywhere," said Chuck Laudner, a Republican consultant in Iowa.

Huntsman's campaign declined to comment on the returns. Bachmann won 4,823 votes, Texas Rep. Ron Paul took 4,671 and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty grabbed 2,293. Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter came in last with 35 votes.

If there's any consolation for Huntsman, the Ames straw poll may not have much impact on voters in the states he is targeting.

"The real winners will be the ones who had the good sense not to participate," says Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party. "I think [Huntsman] is being smart about not competing there at all."

Huntsman did drop by the Iowa State Fair and joined the Fox News-Washington Examiner debate, but did not attempt to rally support for the straw poll.

tburr@sltrib.com