Civil War Rages Over Alaska GOP Leadership
Chairman-elect challenged over supposed rules violations
ANCHORAGE - Warring factions within the Republican Party of Alaska are scheduled for a showdown on February 1 -- the day before Chairman-elect Russ Millette is supposed to take office.
It’s fall-out from a rowdy state Republican convention last April, when delegates affiliated with presidential candidate Ron Paul turned out in force and won the top party posts.
But before they claim those prizes, the existing party establishment may intervene.
When longtime Republican Chairman Randy Ruedrich said his current term would be his last, the state convention elected a near unknown to replace him.
Russ Millette in fact had only recently re-joined the party.
"Actually the charge was he misled the people at the convention by stating that he had been a lifelong Republican, when in fact he had only registered as a Republican on the 17th of February of 2012, just a few weeks before the convention," said Frank McQueary, the party rules chair.
Millette could not be reached for comment today.
He defended himself in a recent Skype interview with a Cincinnati journalist. "I'm 67 years old. I think I figured out the other day I’ve been a Republican for 43, 44 years. I first registered as a Republican in 1966 and campaigned for Barry Goldwater, by the way, in 1964."
The party's executive committee meets January 31 to decide if Millette misrepresented himself and also whether he failed to raise money for last year's elections, as required.
McQueary said, "His performance led to questions as to his overall suitability and a charge has been filed and will be heard, according to the rules."
If the committee finds either accusation valid, Millette will not take office as scheduled February 1.
“It's very complicated, it's a quagmire, I think is the best way to describe it,” said Jeff Landfield, a former Republican state Senate candidate.
Landfield says the bottom line is that Millette was elected fairly. "I also think the other side, Russ and all of his people with him, need to maybe be a little more assertive and actually say something of value, instead of playing the victim card."
There’s no question that the Alaska Republican Party is a house divided. But there will be a house party in a week -- but it's not clear who will be celebrating.