Is Millette R.I.P. in the GOP?
ANCHORAGE - He was elected chairman of the Alaska Republican Party last spring, but he was deposed last night just hours before he would have taken office.
Now Russ Millette must decide whether he will fight for the post.
The only thing that's certain right now is that Vice Chair-elect Debbie Brown of Kasilof became state party chair at midnight, after a failed attempt to oust her as well.
How the recent civil war will affect Republicans going forward is an open question.
"They set me up," Millette said today.
Millette, a supporter of presidential candidate Ron Paul, says even though he won the election for party chair last spring, the Republican establishment never accepted him.
"I would say that I'm an outsider. 'We don't know him, therefore we don't trust him.'"
Thursday night, the party's executive committee concluded that Millette had failed to discharge his duties as finance chairman, a temporary post assigned to the incoming state chair -- a chairmanship that Millette therefore was blocked from assuming.
Longtime GOP Chair Randy Ruedrich, whose tenure ended Thursday, says Millette "just didn't get engaged, just really didn't get acquainted with folks, did not conduct any fund-raising activities, didn't reach out to members of his fund-raising committee as finance chair."
Millette responded: "First of all, I never knew who the party donors were because I was never introduced to them. There was a nine-month period where i was supposed to be trained. I got precious little training."
Also Thursday night, a complaint against Debbie Brown for alleged mismanagement of party funds on the Kenai Peninsula was dismissed, clearing her to become party chair.
Brown said, "This is messy, messy and very serious business. And I took great offense to Mr. Randy Ruedrich accusing me essentially of mismanagement of funds."
It’s far from the clear that the turmoil is over.
Millette says he has not decided whether to appeal the decision to the party’s central committee meeting in Juneau on February 9.
And for her part, Brown says even though the complaint against her was dismissed, she's not sure it'll be the last time there's an attempt to dislodge her.
"She's got a lot to learn,” Ruedrich said. “We’ll start with that today."
Brown says she’d like to see the party "return more to the grassroots."
Unless they keep mowing each other down.
Ruedrich, who had been party chair since 2000, retains some influence as a member of the central committee.
He said he had no indication whether Millette would appeal to that committee.
Millette said he has not made up his mind.
Millette and Brown describe the establishment of the Republican Party as an Anchorage Bowl top-down clique.
They say the party would have done even better in November if it had acted in a de-centralized way.
But Ruedrich says the party would have done even better if Millette had performed his duties as finance chairman.