LETTER TO DIVISION OF ELECTIONS OUTLINES EXPECTATIONS
Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock sent a letter to the Division of Elections last week, informing Director Josie Bahnke that the party will enforce its rule and its constitutional right to remove three legislators from its primary ballot in the August, 2018 cycle.
Babcock said that with the Alaska Supreme Court ruling that AS 15.25.030(a)(16) is unconstitutional, the political parties in Alaska have the right to make rules about who is on their primary ballots. And who is not.
The party has such a rule. Its central committee — the corps of volunteers who serve from the 40 districts around the state — voted to prohibit Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux-Muldoon, Paul Seaton-Homer, and Louise Stutes-Kodiak from running as Republicans on the primary ballot.
Now the party intends to assert that constitutional right.
The Republican Party maintains a closed ballot for the primary, which means only registered Republicans, or voters not registered as members of another party, can vote on its ballot.
Babcock said that the party concurs with the Supreme Court’s decision, and now wants the Division of Elections to implement the law in the manner that is consistent with the party’s rules.
[Read Tuckerman Babcock’s entire letter here: Chair to DOE Apri 6]
“I wrote to you on December 4, 2017 (see attached) declaring ARP’ s internal ruling that Representatives Gabrielle LeDoux, Louise Stutes, and Paul Seaton were ineligible to appear on the Republican Primary ballot in 2018. Your response dated December 7, 2017, declined to act on ARP’s request, citing several objections. I chose not to respond at that time in light of the fact that the State had appealed the summary judgment of the Superior Court to the Alaska Supreme Court.
“With this correspondence, it is ARP’s intent to re-assert what we believe are constitutionally protected rights of association, now affirmed by our Supreme Court. ” – Tuckerman Babcock
The Supreme Court in March ruled that the Alaska Democratic Party could include on its primary ballot those who were not associated with the Democratic Party, but who wanted to run in their primary. That ruling honored an internal rule of the ADP that is promoting the use of “undeclared” or “fake independent” candidates on the Democratic Primary ballot, in an effort to distance them from what had become a problem: People were not voting for Democrats in numbers that would allow the party to gain power in Alaska.
The Democrats were successful running fake-independents such as Rep. Daniel Ortiz of Ketchikan and Rep. Jason Grenn of Anchorage, and most famously Gov. Bill Walker — providing them money and extensive resources normally available only to Democratic candidates.
The Division of Elections originally objected to the Democrats’ effort to fool the voters by going to the next step — allowing them to be on the actual primary ballot under the Democrats’ header. The matter when to court last year.
Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg ruled in favor of the Democrats.
REPUBLICANS WERE READY
While the Democrats were trying to add people to their ballots, Republicans were busy trying to kick what they consider “fake-Republicans” off of their primary ballot.
The State Central Committee had over a year ago voted to kick three sitting House members out of the party because, after winning their elections, they immediately formed an alliance that turned over control of the House of Representatives to Democrats. It was seen as a betrayal of the voters and of the party that had put money into their campaigns.
It became so toxic between the three “Musk Ox Caucus” members, as they are sometimes called, and the Republican Party, that the party asked Rep. Stutes to return the $1,000 the party gave her campaign. She wrote a scolding public letter and donated $1,000 to the Kodiak Salvation Army instead. She had no intention of giving the money back, she said.
The Republicans held an airing of the problem at its quarterly meeting, and allowed the three renegades to defend themselves by giving their own speeches about why they should still be allowed to run as Republicans.
Then a vote was held among the Republican State Central Committee. It was nearly unanimous: The three would be sanctioned from any support from the party. And the party already had a rule in place allowing it to disallow false-flag candidates.
Now it was time to assert the rule.
But when Babcock wrote to Bahnke in December, telling her the three were not allowed on the ballot under the Republican header, she said she didn’t plan to honor the request.
Babcock waited, knowing the Supreme Court ruling would likely come back favoring the Democrats’ wishes, and that meant the Republicans’ wishes would also have to be honored.
Last week, he wrote to Bahnke, “We further assert the absence of any legitimate interest which might be invoked to prevent the party from implementing validly adopted rules regulating our internal affairs — specifically those pertaining to who can, and who cannot run under our party’s label in the 2018 Primary election.
“To be clear, Representatives LeDoux, Stutes and Seaton are not members in good standing of the Republican Party of Alaska, and are ineligible to appear as candidates representing our party in the 2018 Primary Election, according to our rules.
“ARP is not asking the Division of Elections to concur with this determination, only to acknowledge it and not to intervene in a manner that frustrates ARP’s internal administration of our rules.”
The Alaska Republican Party is the largest political party in Alaska, with 140,000 members. Its rules allow it to withdraw support for candidates who have organized with an opposition party when a majority of Republicans has been elected, as occurred in 2016. The only reason the Alaska House of Representatives is now run by a Democrat-led majority is because duly elected Republicans chose to organize with them rather than their own party, something the party seeks to avoid in the future by exerting more discipline over its ballot.
“These individuals are free to seek election as unaffiliated petition candidates or the nominees of another Party,” Babcock wrote. In other words, the Alaska Republican Party is not asking the Division of Elections for permission — it’s relying on a Supreme Court ruling that says it has the authority to enforce its rules, and asking the State to cooperate accordingly.