MURKOWSKI AND MILLER SUPPORTERS SHAKE HANDS AT A FORK IN THE ROAD
A handful of Republican party officers – from the Mat-Su Valley, Interior and greater Anchorage primarily – are stepping out of their official roles this week so they can openly support the campaign of Joe Miller for Senate.
And now for the news: The Republicans, even those who are leaving their official party positions, were in good cheer at their regularly scheduled Fall meeting on Saturday. They expressed strong fellowship and camaraderie with those who are continuing on in support the candidacy of Alaska’s senior Senator Lisa Murkowski.
The road has diverged, but they agreed to part ways for a short period of time and meet up on the other side.
In fact, dare we say, there was a lot of love in the room.
The State Central Committee gaveled in at the Government Peak Chalet and went through the requisite roll call and reports. Then they went into executive session.
The matter under discussion was Dave Bronson. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a commercial pilot, until yesterday he was also the chair of District 25 for the Republican Party.
But Bronson decided that Joe Miller better represents the values of the platform of the Republican Party, and so the question to the central committee was: Can there be an exception, or are party officers bound to support the Republican nominee, as chosen by Republican primary voters?
The executive committee had said earlier in the week that it was sticking with the party rules. No officer is allowed to support a candidate from another party — whether it’s the Green Party, Democrats, or Libertarian.
In essence, the officers had said, “What you do in the voting booth is your business, but as a party officer, you’ve got to stick with the party rules.”
Now, the matter was before the entire body, including district chairs and bonus votes. Bronson was making his case that he felt duty-bound to support Miller, the candidate now running under the Libertarian flag.
“Here in the Alaska Republican Party our principles are clear and they are written down. These principles are articulated in our platform for all to see and understand. We publish them on our website,” Bronson said to the leadership of the Alaska Republican Party.
“For example, in Article 4 of our platform we claim, ‘Man is made in the image of God; therefore, we embrace the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until natural death.'”
Bronson went on to say that too often Republican politicians subtly and openly reject that platform, “even as they demand support from our party, especially at election time. And too often and for too long we Republicans have let them do it.” He was talking about Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
And then it came time to vote. By paper ballot, the group broke 36 to 23 in favor of staying with the rules.
That meant Bronson’s district chairmanship was vacated. Five others resigned their seats over the weekend. A note to Chairman Tuckerman Babcock from District 8’s Bonus Vote Michael Widney expressed the prevailing sentiment:
“I am stepping down from the position of Bonus Vote for District 8 to support a candidate for U.S. Senate other than a Republican. The rules are perfectly clear and I have been aware of them or a rule similar to them for several years. I appreciate the professional and open attitude and actions of the new party leadership and can see no reason to be the cause of any unnecessary strife and division in the party be delaying to comply with the rules in this matter.”
WHAT’S AT STAKE: UNITY
Some Alaska conservatives support Joe Miller because of his strong stances on social issues close to the hearts of the Republicans who believe that social issues are as important as economic issues.
But Miller has filed for Senate as a Libertarian, unlike last time when he ran as a Republican against Murkowski, only to have her beat him as a Republican write-in candidate at the end.
“Alaskans deserve a real choice,” said Miller, in a press release on Saturday. “The choice between a Democrat, a Democrat-backed independent, and a Republican-In-Name-Only – who has been one of Barack Obama’s chief enablers – is no choice at all.”
Tuckerman Babcock, the chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, said he recognized the right of every individual to back the candidate of his or her choice.
“But we also honor the obligations of party officers and decisions made by the voters int he primary, when they chose the candidiate. We will support the candidate the voters have chosen. If an officer wants to support someone else, that is perfectly ok and they go with our blessings. Let’s just remember the real opponents are the Democrats, Vince Beltrami, and Hillary Clinton,” Babcock said.
Over the past two years, the Alaska Republican Party has healed and has knitted together its somewhat broken bones, which fractured during the last Miller-Murkowski match-up. The party now seems stronger and with a greater sense of community than even three years ago, in part because of the steady succession of leadership from past chairman Randy Ruedrich, to Peter Goldberg, and now Tuckerman Babcock.
Murkowski supporters and Miller supporters are breaking bread together again. They hugged each other as they said farewell, knowing some would take different paths to what they hope is a good destination.
Those who are “taking a break” from being a party officer told Must Read Alaska they look forward to returning to Republican district activities after the election on Nov. 8.
Will the love last through the contest of ideas that will now take place before the entire world?
This will be the test of the values that Alaska Republicans embrace and the foundation they have built over the past few years.
“Regardless of the interaction between candidates,” Chairman Babcock said, “the interaction between Republicans will leave us united at the end of the day.”