Updated at 7:47 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29

A group of Alaska Democrats who endorsed independent Margaret Stock for U.S. Senate over the party’s nominee won’t face any sanctions.

Alaska Democratic party spokesman Jake Hamburg says the Interior Democrats have the authority to make endorsements.

The Interior Democrats, which represent the Fairbanks area and a swath of interior Alaska, voted to endorse Stock over Democrat Ray Metcalfe. Hamburg says the state party has no intention of following suit.

He noted that state party chairwoman Casey Steinau is fully behind Metcalfe.

The Senate seat is currently held by Republican Lisa Murkowski, who is seeking re-election. The other major candidate in the race is Libertarian Joe Miller.

Original story

Democrats in one part of Alaska have endorsed an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, bucking their party’s own nominee.

The Interior Democrats voted Wednesday to endorse independent Margaret Stock.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the action might result in any sanctions from the Alaska Democratic party, which hasn’t actively backed party nominee Ray Metcalfe in his challenge to incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Larry Murakami, a state party vice-chair who is with the Interior Democrats, doesn’t think it will. He says he supported backing Stock though the decision wasn’t unanimous.

The party’s organization plan says party officers can’t publicly endorse or support a candidate from another political party against a Democratic candidate between the primary and general election. They also cannot publicly denounce a Democratic nominee. Party spokesman Jake Hamburg noted the rule doesn’t make reference to supporting unaffiliated candidates.

Hamburg also says the party has no intention of following the example of Interior Democrats by endorsing Stock for U.S. Senate. He says party chairwoman Casey Steinau is fully behind Democratic nominee Ray Metcalfe.

Metcalfe has butted heads with party leaders. In an email that highlighted Democratic candidates following the primary, Steinau left out mention of Metcalfe while acknowledging some Democrats who lost their races.

Hamburg says the party has invited Metcalfe to participate in its coordinated campaign, which provides access to voter information and other services. Metcalfe has declined. Metcalfe says he has experience running campaigns and doesn’t need the services offered.

The Interior Democrats represent the Fairbanks area and a swath of interior Alaska.