Somewhat dismissively, presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush told folks in Iowa that he is skipping the largely worthless straw poll there because - "I just don't do straw polls."
Bush made the statement as if straw polls were the silliest thing he ever heard.
But he didn't feel that way in 1995. That year, shortly after losing his 1994 bid for governor, Bush led the most successful Florida straw poll in the state's history. there were more than 3,300 delegates. Hundreds of reporters from across the nation attended. Nearly every major candidate participated.
Held in Orlando, the November contest ended with Kansas Senator Bob Dole, getting 1,104 votes, or 33 percent. Texas Senator Phil Gramm got 869 votes and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander got 749 votes. Five other candidates, including Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes, stayed in single digits.
The candidates campaigned heavily for months before the straw poll, spending a small fortune wooing delegates. Jeb Bush told the delegates: "You can get to choose who the next President of the United States may very well be."
By 1999, Bush was Florida's governor and his big brother was running for president. There seemed no point in attempting a straw poll that would appear rigged for George W. It effectively put an end to Florida straw polls.
And apparently now, Jeb Bush just doesn't do straw polls.