When playing Monopoly there's not a lot of advantage in buying Park Place unless you plan to build on it.
Today, Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter bought the equivalent of Park Place for the Iowa GOP's Straw Poll coming up in August. A woman representing McCotter, Kellie Paschke, took part in this afternoon's Straw Poll auction for space held at state party headquarters in Des Moines. The auction is a competition of sorts of the amount and quality of campaign space.
McCotter spent the second largest amount of money for his Straw Poll space, $18,000. Only Congressman Ron Paul spent more. His campaign shelled out $31,000. That would be the title holder of the Straw Poll's Boardwalk real estate.
The event is held on the grounds of Iowa State University in Ames. Campaigns sometimes go to great lengths to lure Republicans attending to stick around awhile at their temporary grounds. It's not unusual for an attending Republican to be offered some Iowa pork tenderloins fresh off the grill, maybe listen to some live music and there's the chance to be personally courted by the candidate. Even bus transportation to and from the event is sometimes provided by campaigns.
All of this is in pursuit of votes, one per ticket holder, and tickets for the event are sometimes purchased by campaigns, too.
The Straw Poll is seen as a test of organizational strength for the Republican presidential candidates.
That's the game. But is McCotter going to play? Will he build on the Park Place that he bought today?
"He still hasn't made a decision yet," says McCotter senior advisor Randall Thompson.
Thompson adds, "Because he wants to be respectful of Iowa, (McCotter) has to made a decision on a plot of land before he's made a decision on whether he's running."
When might that decision come?
"That's a Thad call," says Thompson.
If McCotter was looking to stir up some attention where the first-in-the-nation presidential contest will be held next year, he got the job done. Now, the question is what he will do with it...and whether to build on his Park Place at the Iowa Straw Poll.
The Iowa Republican reports a representative of Newt Gingrich was on hand at the auction, but did not purchase space.
Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.