By CRAIG CAMPBELL | ALASKA REPUBLICAN PARTY NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN
This past Saturday the Alaska Republican Party State Central Committee met for our regular quarterly meeting. This was the first meeting since the November elections that provided an opportunity to review what worked and what didn’t work in this first-ever, ranked-choice voting process.
There’s been a lot of social media frenzy about the actions taken by the State Central Committee on Saturday, mostly by people reacting with emotional rhetoric who have not been actively engaged with the party this past year. So let me provide some background and information on the basis for the SCC vote to sunset the Alaska Republican Party censures of Sen. Lisa Murkowski and state Sen.-elect Kelly Merrick.
Sen. Murkowski and then-Rep. Merrick were censured for their actions that were either not in accordance with the ARP Platform (Murkowski), or for joining an Alaska State House bipartisan coalition after having pledged not to do so to her district leadership during the election cycle of 2020 (Merrick).
Despite those censure actions, both individuals won their respective election in 2022.
It was concluded by a majority of the SCC members on Saturday that the censures were ineffective. While the censure actions may have sent a message that the ARP disapproved of Murkowski’s and Merrick’s actions, the censures did not change votes. In fact, in the case of Sen.-elect Merrick, the ARP censure action may have actually contributed to her victory. Therefore, the SCC members decided to sunset the censures and place a moratorium on any further censure actions until after the April 2024 Alaska Republican Party State Convention, when all delegates for the ARP will gather in Anchorage and can consider how our party should support, or not support, Republicans in the 2024 election.
While some have characterized this action as “Admitting defeat,” it could more accurately be characterized as recognizing that the censure tactic did not work. Since it didn’t, it’s time for the party to develop a different strategy to encourage Republicans to support the party platform and form Republican majorities when Alaskans elect a numerical majority of Republicans to the state House and Senate.
This leads me to the leadership issue. Many social comments blame the Alaska Republican Party for the failure of this past election. While nothing is ever perfect, the Alaska Republican Party worked hard during this election cycle to get Republicans elected. This included withholding support for Republican candidates who had been censured. We had the largest get-out-the-vote program ever conducted by the party in Alaska: we used rapid response media blasts when Republican opponents made dishonest statements about our candidates, we had active phone banking, we gave monetary support to candidates, we conducted an effective poll watching program, we had an election day hub monitoring the election, and we were active vote count observers. We wanted to ensure election integrity in 2022.
I hear some Republicans say they are leaving the Alaska Republican Party because leadership “caved” to the moderates. That is factually wrong. Let me explain party leadership. It starts at the local level. Alaska Republican Party leadership consists of those Republicans elected by Republicans in each of our 40 districts statewide, plus each district gets a bonus vote when that district has a Republican House representative. All in all, the State Central Committee has upwards of 90 members, all elected in local districts by those registered Republicans who participate in the district conventions.
The Alaska Republican Party chair, vice chair, national committeewoman, finance chair, treasurer, secretary, and national committeeman are also active members of the State Central Committee. Therefore, actions taken by the SCC are based on a vote by the majority of members who come from the 40 different districts. Alaska Republican Party leadership did not “cave,” rather it conducted a vote of SCC members, which determined the outcome.
To those who disagree with the SCC actions this past Saturday, I put out a challenge:
- Get active with the Alaska Republican Party;
- Attend your district meetings;
- Get elected district leader or bonus vote;
- Attend the quarterly State Central Committee meetings and the state convention;
- Nominate and support the people you feel would best lead the Alaska Republican Party; and
- Make your voice heard through action.
Sniping on social media is not the way to change the Alaska Republican Party. It’s your party, you can lead it in a conservative, moderate, or any other manner as the majority of the State Central Committee members determine. Instead of quitting, get involved.
Craig Campbell, former lieutenant governor of Alaska, is the Alaska Republican Party’s national committeeman and serves on the Republican National Committee.