GOP Chair: Party's future to be defined by unity
Alaska’s Republicans have sparred all year over the size of the Permanent Fund Dividend — a divide that seems to continue growing.
It’s a difference that cost House Rep. Laddie Shaw a chance to succeed the late Chris Birch’s South Anchorage Senate seat.
But Alaska Republican Party Chairman Glenn Clary said he believes the party’s future will eventually be defined by unity.
“My party chairmanship is all about unity and bringing people together,” Clary said. “One of my main roles, according to the rules of the Republican party, is to build relationships with all of the legislators, the governor’s office and every one in the Republican party. That’s what I intend to do.”
The differences played out last week when Senate Republicans found themselves deadlocked over Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s nominating Shaw to replace Birch.
Birch steadfastly believed the state could no longer afford PFD payment under Alaska’s statutory formula, which would be an estimated $3,000.
Shaw, however, believes the state could afford that full payment and it was enough for six of the 12 senators to vote against his nomination. He needed seven votes for the seat.
In a candid interview last week, Shaw said he believed the rejection was personal. Now, Dunleavy has until Sunday to nominate another choice.
Clary said those kinds of differences will be worked out.
“I trust that everyone will come to the table and start negotiating, start unity,” he said. “We’ll start repairing relationships and start moving ahead, because I believe the Republican party has the answers for the future of the state of Alaska. I believe if we’ll implement that with unity, we'll be a better state for it."
On Saturday, the party announced there would be no preferential presidential poll for the 2020 election. Even as several Republicans have declared their candidacy, Clary said this is not an unusual step.
“We have not had any other presidential candidates come to us and say they wanted to be in a primary for the state of Alaska,” he said. “And so with the cost and the work, the Alaska Republican Party Central Committee decided that they would forgo the primary, as they did during the [George W.] Bush era, and use those resources for campaigns and other things.”
Clary said should things change on the presidential campaign trail, the party’s district chairs could still meet and vote to hold a primary.
Closer to home, Dunleavy is facing a recall effort that still remains in its early stages. The Division of Elections and the Department of Law are reviewing a petition and they expect to rule on submitted signatures and grounds no later than Nov. 4.
Clary and other members of the party have called the recall a waste of state time and resources.
“I think if and when, you know, the rhetoric, the narrative dies down, people will see that this governor really cares about the state of Alaska,” Clary said. “You already see that he’s backed off on some of the cuts cuts to the university."
Clary continued, “The university is going to be better for it. The governor says, 'hey, listen, I've rethought this thing,’ and so he’s not a hard nose about things. He’s a friendly guy; he’s a great and he cares about this state.”
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