At least one presidential candidate will be on hand for the Arizona Republican Party’s straw poll.
Libertarian-leaning, GOP orthodoxy-bashing U.S. Rep. Ron Paul will be a guest speaker at the state party’s meeting on Jan. 28, where he’ll look for a straw poll win in anticipation of Arizona’s presidential preference primary in late February.
Arizona GOP spokesman Shane Wikfors said the party also invited Republican contenders Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Paul is the only candidate so far to accept the invitation.
“He said he’s going to be there, but that’s obviously subject to change if he needs to be somewhere else,” Wikfors said.
The event will also feature a straw poll of Arizona Republican committee members. A pro-Paul Facebook page for the event urged supporters to come out and help the congressman win the straw poll. The page reminded supporters that they don’t have to be precinct committeemen to vote in the poll, but a contribution will be required.
“Let’s give Ron Paul a warm welcome and another straw poll win,” the page read.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, won a Maricopa County Republican Party straw poll on Saturday with 179 votes, while Gingrich took second place with 142.
Paul fared poorly in the county straw poll. His 94 votes only beat Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachman, who had already dropped out of the race; former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who dropped out two days later; and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The straw poll also asked voters who they considered to be the least acceptable candidate. Paul won in a landslide with 217 votes, while Romney took second with 91.
While many party faithful are hostile to Paul for unconventional views, he’s gained traction in recent primaries. He took second place in the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary, and took third place in the Iowa caucus the week before.
State GOP committee members will also vote on first, second and third vice chairs for the party at the mandatory meeting.
The meeting will be held at Church of the Nations at 7th Street and Bethany Home Road.