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11 Republicans Contend for Title of Conservatives’ Champ

The 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll features 11 prominent Republicans, many of who have never before been included in the popular conservative rite of passage.

The poll’s results will be released Saturday evening — the final night of the three-day CPAC meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

Newcomers to the poll are Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Sen. John Thune (S.D.), House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.). They join six veterans of the poll: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Romney has won the poll for the last three years.

The 527 organization Draft Dick Cheney 2012 launched a write-in campaign for the former vice president on Thursday, the same day Cheney made a surprise appearance at CPAC.

Pence, Santorum, Pawlenty, Romney, Paul and Gingrich are among the 2010 straw poll contenders attending the conference.

In 2008, Romney defeated Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) despite Romney’s announcement during his speech at CPAC that he was suspending his campaign for president.

The Republicans listed on the 2010 poll show the fluidity of the conservative leadership structure.

In 2009, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal finished in second place, but he is not listed on the 2010 poll.

Other Republicans that have fallen off the list include South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

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