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Gary Johnson to skip straw poll and go mountain biking

Despite the massive GOP party happening in Ames this weekend, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has other places to be. Specifically, he’ll be riding his mountain bike along a 100-mile course in Colorado, billed as a “race across the sky.”

Of course, the announcement, made by his campaign Tuesday, comes as little surprise.

On the one hand Johnson is known for being an avid outdoorsman and adventurer. He has reached four of the highest peaks on all seven continents, including Mt. Everest — a fact specifically noted by his campaign. He has taken part in Iowa’s RAGBRAI bike trek and has also biked the eight-day Adidas TransAlps challenge in Europe. He’s finished the Hawaii Iron Man five times and won the Breckenridge 100 mountain bike marathon in his combined age group just last year.

On the other hand the Johnson campaign has made clear its thoughts on the Ames Straw Poll, noting there had been “a strategic decision to spend resources and time doing retail politics in New Hampshire.”

Ron Nielson, a senior campaign advisor, said, “We certainly don’t begrudge the Iowa GOP for sponsoring what has become a very successful fundraising activity, but we simply cannot and will not buy into an event that has been granted far more status in the nomination process than it should have. Our campaign is about ideas and providing real solutions. We are giving a voice to Republicans and Independents who aren’t satisfied with politics as usual, whether they are in Iowa, New Hampshire, California, or wherever. Asking supporters in Iowa to buy tickets and show up for an event six months before the caucuses is just not a part of providing that voice – or our campaign.”

The statement concluded that “a pay-to-play straw poll is really not part of that agenda.”

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