Speed Reads

2016 Watch

Mike Huckabee to skip Iowa straw poll because it 'will serve only to weaken conservative candidates'

In another sign of the waning importance of the Iowa straw poll, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) says he will skip the event this year because it divides conservatives and "open[s] a path for a more moderate establishment candidate to ultimately win the nomination."

"Conservative and hard-working Iowans want a strong and principled conservative Republican nominee for president who represents their values," Huckabee wrote in a Des Moines Register op-ed published Thursday. "I have concluded this year's Iowa straw poll will serve only to weaken conservative candidates and further empower the Washington ruling class and their hand-picked candidates."

Huckabee placed second in the 2008 straw poll before surging to a surprising victory in the Iowa caucuses.

The straw poll has had little predictive value in the past regarding the eventual GOP nominee, and it has come under fire in recent years as an expensive distraction. Jeb Bush's campaign said last week the former Florida governor would not compete in the straw poll, either.