Alaska GOP moves to block rogue lawmakers from party primary
After three Republicans joined Democrats and Independents to form a bi-partisan coalition in Juneau, the Alaska Republican Party has approved a rule change to kick them out of the party's primary.
The Alaska GOP says it has new authority, based on a decision made by a Superior Court judge earlier this year, in a case involving the Alaska Democratic Party.
In October, the Alaska Democratic Party won a lawsuit against the state challenging a law that requires primary election candidates be registered members of the corresponding party. The move would allow independents, like Gov. Bill Walker, to run on the Democratic ticket.
But according to the Republican Party, the ruling also allows for the exclusion of candidates.
"We looked at that legal decision and said, 'Well, fine: if it's good for the Democrats, the Republicans can do that too," said Alaska Republican Party Chair Tuckerman Babcock.
Babcock wants to shut three sitting Republican lawmakers out of the party's primary.
Reps. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak), Paul Seaton (R-Homer), and Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage) joined arms with Democrats and independents after the 2016 election, forming a bipartisan coalition majority in the Alaska House.
"I don't think the people of Alaska are going to stand for you know, a situation where the party just mandates who gets to run in their primary," LeDoux said by phone Saturday. "I mean, why do that? I mean they have a primary, they don't like me, they can run somebody against me."
The Alaska GOP has recruited a candidate to run against LeDoux in the 2018 primary election, and Babcock says the party is also working to stack challengers against Stutes and Seaton.
"The people elect a majority of Republicans, they expect the Republicans to form the basis of organizing the Legislature," Babcock said. "If a small subset of that group jumps ship and organizes with the Democrats, that's crossing the line and there's no coming back."
The Republican Party's Central Committee voted unanimously not to allow the three lawmakers on the primary ballot. Now it's up to the Alaska Division of Elections to decide whether to honor the party's new rule.
Babcock says he will notify the state Division of Elections of the Alaska GOP's decision to exclude the three legislators on Monday.
The State of Alaska has appealed the Superior Court decision on the Democratic Party's lawsuit to the Alaska Supreme Court. Babcock says the Alaska GOP may join Democrats in that suit.
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