REPUBLICAN PARTY REAFFIRMS SANCTIONS AGAINST ‘POSER’ JIM COLVER
The State Central Committee of the Alaska Republican Party endorsed Rep. George Rauscher on Saturday, supporting the decision of District 9 Republicans to pick just one person as its favorite to take on Jim Colver.
District 9 stretches from Palmer to Glennallen, Tok, Valdez and across Prince William Sound to Whittier. It is a conservative part of the state, with a few liberal enclaves.
The pre-primary endorsement allows the party, including its powerhouse fundraising Republican women’s clubs, to spend on behalf of Rauscher’s re-election. That could be worth thousands of dollars in aid to a candidate. Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, indicated he’ll be very active in defending Rauscher against Colver.
Rauscher is the incumbent for District 9, having stepped up in 2016 to fight a tough battle against Colver, a former legislator who served just one term. Colver had lost the support of not only his district grassroots activists but the entire party after his actions as a legislator. During the election season, he had the support of powerful unions and also support from his Musk Ox Coalition, a band of Republicans and Democrats who staged a coup beginning in 2015, and by 2016 had flipped control of the House to Democrats.
By then, however, Colver’s district voters were onto him and removed him from office, while his fellow Republican Musk Ox, Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Paul Seaton, and Louise Stutes, went on to be awarded powerful seats: LeDoux became Rules chair, Seaton became cochair of Finance, and Stutes, who had only served one term in office, became majority whip.
For the first time in 20 years, the House was in Democrat control. Other members of the Musk Ox Coalition included Democrats Bryce Edgmon, who became Speaker and Neal Foster, who was awarded co-chair of Finance.
THE MUSK OX LEADER RETURNS
In 2015, the Musk Ox Coalition had written a letter to Rep. Mike Chenault, expressing their dissent against a plan to fund the budget gap. It was the first sign that a revolt was underway: “On behalf of our constituents, we feel compelled to express to you our serious misgivings regarding a plan to transfer funds from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve as part of a mechanism to fund the Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget,” the legislators wrote.
A year later, just before he lost to Rauscher, Colver wrote in the Alaska Dispatch News, that the Musk Ox Coalition had no intention of flipping House control to Democrats:
“It is time for the public to know what is behind the smokescreen put out by shadow groups like The Accountability Project (TAP). These groups are trying to influence the election with tens of thousands of dollars of outside corporate cash. TAP alleged in a recent article that I was a threat to flip and organize with the House Minority. This is totally false and misleading and a cover-up for their actual mischief.
“The truth is that they, other shadow groups and the Republican Party are part of a larger coordinated effort to assert top-down control of the House Republican majority by installing obedient soldiers.
“Why am I and another majority member in their cross hairs? We are members of the Musk Ox Coalition and they are musk ox hunting. They are sending a message that independence and doing what’s best for our constituents and doing what is best for Alaska will not be tolerated in the majority caucus. They will decide what is best for you. They want legislators they can control and tell what to do. I won’t submit. I will stand up for what is right, and that is why I am now under attack.
“In May 2015 I was part of a brave group of six House majority members (the Musk Ox Coalition) who refused to give in to immense pressure and go along with a backroom deal to raid $5 billion from the Permanent Fund Earnings account to avoid negotiating a bipartisan budget solution to access the budget reserve.”
COLVER THE DEMOCRAT
During Saturday’s State Central Committee meeting, Fred Agree, a voting member of the committee, stood to tell the group that Colver had told him “of course he was a Democrat,” but realized he could only win as a Republican in the district.
The party on Saturday voted not only to endorse Rauscher but unanimously voted to continue the sanctions against Colver, who is viewed as a poser.
Another member of the Musk Ox Coalition, Paul Seaton of District 31 Homer, has chosen to run as a nonpartisan in the Democrats primary during this election cycle.
Seaton, Stutes, and LeDoux, the remaining members of the Musk Ox, have all been sanctioned by their District Republicans and the state party, which will offer them no support during their reelection campaign.
Stutes and LeDoux are continuing to run in the Republican primary. Stutes, District 32 Kodiak, faces a tough primary battle against Republican Richard Walker of Kodiak. LeDoux, District 15 Anchorage, faces Aaron Weaver in the primary.