ANCHORAGE - Supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul will lead the Alaska Republican Party in 2013, a result of an at-times rowdy state convention over the weekend.
The top two spots in the party hierarchy went to political unknowns while lifelong Republican and 14-year office-holder Senator Lisa Murkowski was heckled.
Russ Millette was elected chair and Debbie Brown vice chair.
They will assume those positions after this year's elections, although Millette immediately becomes finance chairman.
Randy Ruedrich, who chose to retire after 12 years as state party chair, does not know his successor. And it's not clear what the change in leadership will portend for the GOP.
This weekend's state Republican Party convention was one of the largest ever, with more than 500 participants and one of its liveliest, with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski shouted down as she tried to speak.
"I think that was unfortunate,” said Bruce Schulte, chair of the convention committee. “It was very disrespectful to her office and also to our visiting senator from Wyoming."
A surge by supporters of Paul brought new leadership to the party, although Millette and Brown are not well-known political figures.
Ruedrich said he has not met Millette, but does not expect any shift in political philosophy.
"The party leadership is not about ideology. The party leadership is about doing the job, which as I mentioned to you a long time ago, which is beating Democrats."
Joe Miller, the 2010 Republican nominee for Murkowski’s seat, supported the new leadership but also said Republicans of all stripes can unite.
"I don't think you're going to see a change of direction in it. I think you're going to see the same values. I think there's going to be a re-commitment to those values. I mean, that's the best way to describe it."
Ruedrich transferred $100,000 from the state party account to the Capital City Republicans in Juneau, a move questioned by Miller.
Ruedrich explained: "There is a possibility of doing pre-primary endorsements. And funding pre-primary campaigns. And this money was raised with the intent of being used in the fall election, and if you want to raise money for pre-primary endorsements, the party needs to do that separately."
Millette declined an interview today because of a family emergency.
Apparently he has lived off and on in Alaska for decades and attended the 2008 state Republican convention.
He is the president of Doctors in USA, an online directory of physicians and surgeons.