Now that the deadline to file for state office has passed, political parties are focusing on their primary election races in August.

Normally, it's unusual for parties to endorse a candidate before then. But, at least one Republican candidate is getting all of the GOP's support -- not necessarily because of his own campaign -- but because of who the party wants him to beat.

The Alaska Republican Party is going after the powerful chair of the House Rules committee, who the GOP has dubbed a "turncoat" after the last election cycle, in which three Republicans joined with Democrats and Independents to narrowly take control of the House:

  • Rep. Louise Stutes, of Kodiak
  • Rep. Paul Seaton, of Homer
  • Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, of Anchorage

At the time, the chairman of the Alaska Republican Party sent the three lawmakers a scathing letter, titled "Until next time." In it, Tuckerman Babcock vowed to target them in the next election cycle.

Fast-forward to 2018, and Babcock says the three still have bullseyes on their backs, although, Seaton is now running as a non-partisan in the Democratic primary.

"Louise Stutes, who is kind of a mild-mannered turncoat and hasn't taken a lead in fighting Republicans in Juneau, or kind of just go along to get along. Kodiak seems to be fairly satisfied with her," Babcock said of the Kodiak Republican. 

As for Gabrielle LeDoux, chair of the House Rules Committee, her challenger is a former TV news photographer named Aaron Weaver. 

"To actually caucus with the other side-- less than 24 hours after the last election-- I think was unconscionable, and I think a lot of people are very angry at that," Weaver said of LeDoux’s action after the last election, adding that it isn't his main reason for running. 

For her part, LeDoux says her decision to form part of a bipartisan coalition wasn't about party but rather principle.

"I didn't want to see a dividend reduction plan only, now admittedly, it hasn't quite worked out the way I wanted it to since we seem to have ended up with that," LeDoux said in an interview Monday. 

Now, local Republican voters in each district will decide who the party ends up with for its candidates in the 2018 election.

While he has labeled Stutes a "mild-mannered turncoat," Babcock says the GOP supports the Republican who filed against her last week, as well as the Republican running against LeDoux, and the Republican who will eventually challenge Seaton in the general election this November -- whichever candidate that ends up being.

From 2007 through 2012, Senate Republicans and Democrats formed bipartisan coalitions in the Alaska Legislature. The Senate coalition in 2007 and 2008 was headed up by Babcock's own mother-in-law, Lyda Green. 

Babcock says the difference is that in the past, Senate coalitions were formed by a majority of Republicans. In 2016, he says, the three House Republicans jumped ship when they joined with Democrats to shift power away from a majority of their own party members.

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