McDonnell named possible 2016 presidential candidate, another left off list
(CNN) — There are 23 names on the Conservative Political Action Conference’s much watched 2016 GOP presidential nomination straw poll.
And there’s one glaring omission: Jeb Bush.
It appears the former two-term Florida governor is the reason his name isn’t on the ballot.
“He requested not to be put on the poll this year,” an official with the American Conservative Union, the group that puts on CPAC, told CNN. The official asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.
And that was quickly confirmed by a spokesman for Bush.
“It was our request to Mr. Cardenas when he extended the invite for Gov. Bush to speak. We asked not to be included, as Gov. Bush has said repeatedly, it is too early to think about 2016,” Bush spokesperson Jaryn Emhof told CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper, anchor of the upcoming CNN program “The Lead.”
Bush will speak at the conference Friday.
Bush lately has been doing something he’s never really done before: talk publicly about possibly running for president. Earlier this month as Bush did the television interview circuit, including two interviews on CNN, around the release of his new book, “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” the son and brother of former presidents openly discussed his thinking on a run for the White House in 2016.
But in those interviews Bush, who passed on running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012, said he won’t be making a decision on the next race for the White House any time soon and chided the media for obsessing on 2016.
“I suspect Jeb didn’t want to be on straw poll list. He has consistently said it’s too early for 2016 talk and doesn’t do anything to fan the flames,” said Ana Navarro, a GOP strategist, CNN contributor and friend of Bush.
And a source very close to Bush told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, anchor of CNN’s “State of the Union,” that the straw poll “would start a conversation he doesn’t want and doesn’t even think should happen at this time.”
Hanging over Bush is what can be described as Bush fatigue – the idea that a Jeb Bush bid for the White House would carry his family’s political baggage.
His father, George H.W. Bush, served one term before losing his 1992 re-election campaign against then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. The elder Bush angered many conservatives by breaking his “no new taxes” pledge.
His brother George W. Bush served two terms but left office in January 2009 as a very unpopular president, even among Republicans, who were angered by his support of federal spending increases and his 2008 bailout of Wall Street during the financial crisis.
A few high-profile conservatives and potential White House hopefuls who weren’t invited to speak at the CPAC nevertheless made it onto the ballot.
While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell were not invited to speak, both appear on the 23-name ballot obtained by CNN for the next GOP presidential nomination. (McDonnell will still appear at CPAC on a panel but will not be a featured speaker.)
The straw poll is often considered a way to gauge where the conservative base stands on potential Republican nominees. Last year, when the conference took place in February, then-candidate Mitt Romney won the poll at a crucial point in the Republican primary. The former governor of Massachusetts took 38% of the vote, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received 31%, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was at 15% and then-Texas Rep. Ron Paul stood at 12%.
In previous years, however, Paul was the winner of the poll. The libertarian-learning Republican came out on top in 2011 and 2010.
In 2009, months after the 2008 election, Romney took first place, with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal coming in second and Paul tying for third place with Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee.
Other non-CPAC speakers on this year’s ballot include New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who now heads Purdue University; Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a top surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign last year; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Also of note, freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, who rose to fame for his grassroots support in a heated Texas primary and run-off last year, made the list. Given that he was born in Canada with an American citizen mother and a Cuban father, his eligibility for president has been subject to debate.
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson interestingly appears on the poll–the only one on the list who’s never been elected to public office. He generated buzz among conservative circles after he advocated conservative policies on taxes and health care right in front of President Obama while keynoting the national prayer breakfast last month.
Check out the rest of the list below:
1. NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
2. AZ Governor Jan Brewer
3. KS Governor Sam Brownback
4. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
5. NJ Governor Chris Christie
6. TX Senator Ted Cruz
7. Former IN Governor Mitch Daniels
8. SC Governor Nikki Haley
9. LA Governor Bobby Jindal
10. OH Governor John Kasich
11. NM Governor Susana Martinez
12. VA Governor Bob McDonnell
13. Former AK Governor Sarah Palin
14. KY Senator Rand Paul
15. IN Governor Mike Pence
16. TX Governor Rick Perry
17. OH Senator Rob Portman
18. FL Senator Marco Rubio
19. WI Congressman Paul Ryan
20. Former PA Senator Rick Santorum
21. SC Senator Tim Scott
22. SD Senator John Thune
23. WI Governor Scott Walker
24. Other _______________________