Mike Huckabee
, who used the oft-criticized Iowa Republican straw poll to his early advantage in a 2008 run for president, says he won’t participate this year because it would work against evangelical types such as himself.

Huckabee says he fears the influence of candidates with deep pockets buying votes in the beauty contest. He also no doubt fears any premature illustration that the conservative Iowa Republican voters have more candidates of his ilk to choose from this go-round. Jeb Bush has also said he’ll forego the straw poll.

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I wish they’d forego the Iowa caucuses themselves, an event that often produces future losers but gets an inordinate amount of early press attention for a contest that is dominated in Iowa by extremists of the Religious Right.