Organizers Prepare for GOP Convention
ANCHORAGE - As organizers prepare for Saturday's annual convention, a major rift remains within the Alaska Republican Party.
If enough delegates show up to do business, one item on the agenda is an immediate change in party leadership.
Randy Ruedrich, the party chairman for the past 12 years, did not seek re-election but has been scheduled to keep his post until February.
But supporters of incoming party Chairman Russ Millette want the transition to occur Saturday.
The state Republican convention adjourned in April without action on rule changes, resolutions and other business.
The convention is scheduled to resume in Anchorage Saturday, but Ruedrich is encouraging delegates to stay home.
He says backers of presidential candidate Ron Paul are attempting to send only Paul supporters to the national convention in Tampa this summer.
"This is a Ron Paul deal, and they're trying to mislead as many people into raising other red herrings, so they can get some nuance of the session, claim some peculiar nuance and elect a delegation."
But that is disputed.
"This is not a Ron Paul movement,” said Joe Miller, the party’s U.S. Senate nominee in 2010 and a longtime adversary of Ruedrich’s. “This is a conservative movement that says it's time for new leadership. We've got people in the state that want to take the state in a new direction, one that's based on natural resources, one that's not based on federal dependency."
Adds Evan Cutler of Alaskans for Ron Paul: "Unfortunately Randy Ruedrich, it seems, is afraid to work with the new leadership and a smooth transition, and is doing everything he can to avoid having the Republican convention happen tomorrow."
One Republican legislative candidate, Jeff Landfield, says he's concerned about the intra-party conflicts.
"There's new leadership, which I think is good, but I also believe the old leadership has done a lot of work on this next election cycle. And I'm more concerned with the new and old working together and moving forward with the party, instead of in-fighting and this kind of petty bickering which is going on."
As of now, though, the Republican Party is fight club.
And the first rule seems to be talk about it - with the exception of Millette, who declined to be interviewed.
There’s even a dispute about the number of delegates necessary to establish a quorum and do business.
Cutler says it's 236 -- just over half of the 471 delegates who attended the April convention.
But Ruedrich says according to Robert’s rules of order, it's 275 -- half of the delegates actually authorized.