Colorado GOP presidential straw poll: If not Romney, then Bachmann!

Last weekend Colorado Republicans huddled at their annual Centennial Dinner and took a presidential election straw poll. To their credit, perhaps, attendees at the party seemed as uninspired by the GOP candidate choices so far as does the rest of the nation. They liked Mitt Romney best, a safe choice. Runner up was not a safe choice. Maybe it was the late hour and the flowing champagne, but after Romney came Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party U.S. history fan who announced she was contemplating a run at the White House the same day she put the battles of Lexington and Concord in New Hampshire instead of Massachusetts. Also strange is that Colorado Republicans also liked Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty. The former governor came in third in the poll. He was the first candidate to formally announce for president but few Americans outside of Minnesota and the Centennial Dinner crowd could pick him out of a line up.

It’s probably worth noting that Bachmann likely visited with many of these people when she memorably came to town in August 2009. She talked to conservatives at an Independence Institute fundraiser and made national headlines when the Colorado Independent reported she asked the people there and conservatives across the country to “slit their wrists and become blood brothers” in opposing all things Democrat and Obama.

As Ernest Luning reported at the time:

In a fiery speech that had her conservative Colorado audience cheering, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann railed against the dangers of health care reform and other Democratic initiatives, warning the proposals “have the strength to destroy this country forever.”

“This cannot pass,” the Minnesota Republican told a crowd at a Denver gathering… “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass.”

“Something is way crazy out there… This is slavery,” Bachmann said after claiming many Americans pay half their income to taxes. “It’s nothing more than slavery.”

Bachmann may not have won the healthcare battle but she seems to have won some blood brothers and sisters in Colorado.

Here’s Luning at The Statesman listing the straw poll results last weekend:

“We thought it would be fun tonight with this crowd of prominent Republican leaders from all parts of our state to have a poll,” Wadhams said before sending ballot-collectors into the crowd.

The poll was open-ended — a slip of paper with a blank where Republicans could write in any candidate’s name — and left a few voters at a loss. “Who’s even running?” asked one Republican as ballot-collectors neared.

Unsurprisingly, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — who won the 2008 Colorado caucuses with 59 percent of the vote over John McCain’s 19 percent in a nonbinding preference poll — led with 76 votes, twice the tally of his nearest competitor, though he only garnered roughly one-fourth of the total votes. Next in line was Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a conservative lightning rod who has been making noise about a possible presidential bid in recent weeks, with 38 votes. Another half-dozen candidates bunched up with similar votes.

It’s a safe bet not everyone voting in the straw poll took their votes entirely seriously, as several Colorado Republicans — including U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, Denver Republican Party Secretary Brett Moore and four of the five state party chair candidates — received at least one vote.

The top 10 vote-getters, after Romney and Bachmann, were former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — the only announced candidate so far — with 34 votes, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels with 27, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with 26, tied with businessman and TV personality Donald Trump, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 20, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 19, businessman Herman Cain with 14 and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 12.

Also receiving votes were former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Fox News host Glenn Beck and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, among others.

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