Judy Eledge: Who are we as Republicans?

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By JUDY ELEDGE

Recently several decisions made by Republicans in the Republican Party, Alaska State Senate and U.S. Congress have led me to this question. Who are we?  

As many of you are aware, I have known Craig Campbell for many years and respect him greatly. I just don’t agree on his recent assumption about why we should remove and pause the party censure.  

I have served on the Republican State Central Committee since 2003, first as chair of two different districts and since 2008 as president of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club.  

I was out of state for the December meeting and therefore wish to address Craig Campbell’s large assumption in Must Read Alaska, where he stated that since both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen.-elect Kelly Merrick won their seats, and other Republicans lost theirs, the censures passed earlier were ineffective. (The censure against Murkowski had been overwhelmingly approved by the SCC with Craig’s vote in support).

Craig Campbell is respected by many in the party, myself, included. So, when he makes these statements, he has much influence. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Believing this to be a rather large assumption, I would like to see Craig’s data supporting his statement. 

After discussion with some very good data people in and out of Alaska, they would say the censures had very little effect either way.  People further stated most of what the SCC does is really only noticed by a small “informed” group of Republicans. They assured me that such a small group would not affect whether Lisa Murkowski or Kelly Merrick won or lost.

As I remember, the camel that broke most everyone’s back in the Republican leadership of the4 party was Lisa Murkowski’s vote to not confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and then voting to impeach Donald Trump, a sitting Republican president.

Then, in the November 2022 election, she endorsed the democrat in the U.S. congressional race. No one believes her censure would have changed that. It seems she just needed those rural votes because of a Democrat in her own race.

Kelly Merrick’s censure came from within her own district, when during last session she joined a coalition with Democrats and left many of her fellow Republicans in the minority. 

So, below are my assumptions of why Lisa Murkowski and Kelly Merrick won and why other Republicans may have lost. I have tried to base my assumptions on facts and data when possible.

#1 Ranked Choice Voting 

Everyone knows that Sen. Lisa Murkowski was behind the ranked choice voting initiative. She knew there was no way she would make it through a Republican primary again, when for the first time since 2010 she had a strong candidate as an opponent. She knew she couldn’t do another write-in, so why not just change the whole voting system in Alaska? Legislating by petition is rather easy here if you have the money.  It didn’t seem to matter to her what affect it might have on other Republican races.

So, with millions of outside dark-money, it passed. This would allow her a way to avoid a Republican primary and get all her Democrat votes to count. Big assumption? I’ll say it has better odds than the theory that being censured caused Republican losses. 

#2 Redistricting

Every 10 years we go through redistricting. Once again, the Democrats beat the hell out of the Republican Party in getting people to testify.  Yes, we had three Republicans on the board, but they were not always unified on votes. Several of us did everything we could to get people to testify. I alone testified five times. Day after day we sat and heard many Democrats testify about their chosen maps. Republicans usually had around 2-3 people. We thank those district chairs that did help and wonder where the rest were.

With Republicans not united on the Republican House Districts, the Democrat map won. In the Senate pairings, we did somewhat better, but once those pairings were passed out of committee, the Democrats sued. Of course, the Alaska courts sided with the Democrats and their Senate pairings were accepted. This left many of our strong Republican districts at risk for flipping.

It was rather obvious, some Republican candidates joined with the Democrats to win their Senate seats. Is it possible that Kelly Merrick being married to a union boss, and Cathy Giessel holding a fundraiser with Democrat Matt Claman had more to do with their winning with the help of Democrat money than one of them being censured?

#3 Get out the vote

If as was stated by Craig Campbell, this was the largest ever voter turn-out effort by the GOP, then it failed. This election was the lowest voter turnout ever in the state.  

Maybe the Party needs to take a closer look at its efforts and analyze why it didn’t work. Exactly what efforts were made by the party on behalf of Senate Candidate Kelly Tshibaka? Could it be the dismal losses of the past six years under the current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel? When she was elected, Republicans held the presidency, Senate and House. The results in the November election tell me we need to look at a new direction for our party.

#4 Outside Money

Conservative Republican candidates who lost were fighting huge amounts of outside money. In the Alaska Senate race, Kelly Tshibaka had $9 million spent against her by Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate leadership to ensure Sen. Lisa Murkowski won. His commercials against Tshibaka were relentless, and some of the dirtiest anyone has ever heard.

I wonder what would have happened had he spent $9 million to defeat Lisa Murkowski? Are we to believe actions like this do not make the average conservative voter disgusted with the party and maybe not show up to polls? 

Many of us are proud of Kelly Tshibaka’s percentage of votes after millions were spent to defeat her. I have heard some say we lost money when we censured Murkowski. Exactly what money are they talking about? Puppet money?

In some of our state races the same was happening. Sen. Mia Costello had millions of outside monies spent against her to elect Democrat Matt Claman.  

A large LGBT outside group sent funds to four LGBT candidates in Alaska, and three of them won. I am sure other national Democrat money was being put in many of our races to ensure Republican lost.

Since the censure “removal” several more disturbing things have happened in our party both in AK and nationally. 

  • 11 Republicans were elected to the AK Senate.  That formed a Republican majority but instead eight of those 11 decided they didn’t really like conservative Republicans and instead formed with Democrats for a Democrat led coalition, with the most powerful committee chairs being held mostly by Democrats.  
  • Recently Congress had 12 Republican senators, and a whopping 39 Republican congressmen, vote for the so-called Respect for Marriage Act.  It was legislation not really needed, but pushed by the LGBT movement. This now puts all religious groups at risk for lengthy lawsuits. Both of our US Senators voted for it.
  • The US Senate, including 18 Republicans, just voted for the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill, one of which we just re-elected.

In closing, this leads me back to my original question in the headline: “Who are we?” Many of us believe we are our party platform. Is it wrong to expect the same from those we elect? Is not a censure letting an elected official know we don’t like their actions against our platform? Is it not a way to hold them accountable?

We, as a party, spend many hours writing our platform at state conventions. Should we not ask candidates to read and support them after the convention?

I am one that believes we stand for something, or we stand for nothing at all. Did many of our voters just stay home on Election Day because they don’t see Republicans standing for anything? Are we just words but not action? These would be my assumptions. I hope I have convinced you my assumptions are worth considering.

Judy Eledge is the chair of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club and a longtime activist in the Republican Party of Alaska.

35 COMMENTS

  1. Who are Republicans?

    Lost, feckless, and lazy. Prone to complain instead of getting involved.
    Worst of all, the lack conviction of any kind.

    The GOP is happy to form circular firing squads while falling all over themselves to team up with the left for pork.

    I left the GOP for my own independent path for just the reason specified. The GOP doesn’t stand for anything.

    I’d hoped the election of Donald Trump would serve as a wake up call. Living proof the GOP has lost its message. Obviously not.

  2. The republicans are the same as the democrats. Neither side has done much except lie steel and use of force via the DOJ to stay in power and get rich while the people get the crumbs. It’s the politicians in general against the poor American taxpayer. Both sides don’t really care about us.

    • Frank:
      If that is really your name…
      .
      Who is a sore loser? Making a statement that things in the election aided Murkowski and Merrick is not being a sore loser. It is an observation. An observation that is valid from the perspective of the author, as well as a lot of AK voters.
      .
      But, you do you.

  3. The real question is “what purpose do political parties serve?”
    RCV neutered the “party system” which was its primary purpose.
    The question I have is whether political parties have the right to select one candidate to represent the party in the general election? Instead of a free-for-all with candidates using the party tag in name only.
    I am also interested in the history of political parties in the U.S. and how parties gained power whereby the States sanctioned their party elections.

  4. It’s really simple Judy. Instead of fighting culture wars and demonizing your fellow Alaskans who aren’t R’s, why don’t you come up with a more unifying message that doesn’t demonize your fellow Americans ?

    As long as you put party before people, you will always come up with the short end of the stick. Quit vilifying your fellow citizens, it’s wrong, it’s immoral and it shows what kind of person you really are.

    As for Craig “small government”Campbell, a man who has never worked a day in the private sector, he’s the guy who has helped sow this atmosphere of divisiveness in our community. That’s not leadership, thats just guttersniping from a person who should know better.

    • Just so the facts are correct I worked 20 years in the private sector with Coffman Associates, USKH, and CH2M Hill. In the public sector, while on the Anchorage Assembly, we reduced the size and cost of MOA government by nearly 15%. Finally, I ended state funding to the Alaska Aerospace Corporation in 2014 and it has operated without state funding ever since. Anybody is welcome to disagree with my politics, but should make sure the facts they state are correct if they expect their opinion to be seriously considered. Cheers!

  5. Great question, Judy. Yes, I totally respect Craig Campbell, and no, it is not wrong to expect the Republicans we elect to follow the party platform. RCV, Redistricting (yes, I called to testify,) failed G.O. T. V. and the Outside $, all affected the outcome. In my perfect dreamworld, Republicans would not be campaigning against Republicans. Who are we?

  6. I think more in terms of being conservative in values. I was raised along democrat liberal platitudes. Things with them have left everyone worse for the wear. Following Bible principles is always the best course to take.

  7. Some republicans did fine, which makes me wonder if it was just a matter of turnout. Governor Dunleavy was re-elected and some of the most conservative, like David Eastman and Mike Shower. So I think there was more to the problem than the voter turnout. Republicans need to dig deep and see what else might have been in play.

    • As you read Shelia, my whole point was it was not as easy as lifting a censure. It is when you combine all the things mentioned it could have been the reason.

    • Rich, you just beautifully summed-up the absolute lack of principles, fairness, conscience, ethics, and respect for liberty of virtually every Democrat, and of EVERY radical leftist.

      • You misspelled politicians in your last sentence. “They are politicians” is accurate. Not a politician alive that does not lust after power.

  8. Judy is totally right. The ARP functions as a fundraiser. There is so much the leadership could accomplish. Uniting the Republican districts to be active statewide. The blanket approval to vote for RNC chairman Rhonda Mcdaniels, big mistake . Where is the party defending the three shunned Republican, duly elected Senators?

  9. Ranked Choice Voting follows the same logic that requiring voter ID is akin to “voter suppression” It is designed to water down peoples votes. It allows candidates to say one thing and do another. Yes still appeal to a portion of their base.
    A 2017 ruling made clear that both the RNC & DNC are private corporations.
    These corporations can and do disregard the will of those who blindly donate to these groups.
    The boards of these companies will continue to control elections by giving and withholding funds based on their chosen candidate.

    • Rod, Excellent points made above. I made several contributions to candidates across the Nation only to find out later that Nickie Haley and other RINO’s were involved in distribution of the contributions? I am very concerned about that, especially so since my contribution to say Ron Johnson might have actually gone to Lisa?
      Am I barking up the wrong tree here? Please, somebody in the party leadership straighten me out. Because if my suspicions are founded, I’m outta here after 48 years of being an “R”.

      • If you make individual contributions to candidates anywhere it goes to the candidate. Problem is something when you donate the money goes to people that don’t need it. McConnell is Senate Leadership but every senator I am aware of belongs to the group. The fear Mr. McConnell. So I can’t answer you if your donation went elsewhere than anticipated. But I NEVER donate to anyone associated with the Senate Leadership nationally, never!

      • I wouldn’t give Nikki Haley a bag of burning dog turds. She is the classic example of political opportunism with an R.

  10. Judy; As a third Gen. Alaskan, to me Kelly had not the credentials to run for senate including her very short time in Alaska and improprieties outlined by McConnell who is from a very red state.
    Then we have born and raised Lisa Murkowski who is responsible for 2 F-35 fighter squadrons an F-22 squadron, infrastructure bill, broadband 2 coastguard cutters, more money per capita for Alaska than any other state and on and on and on plus she opposes pebble which most Alaskans don’t want as the fisheries resource is far and away more important and worth more than all Alaska’s oil, gas, minerals put together and with Senator Sullivan, Lisa is Alaska’s double barrel shotgun, and easily reelected.

    • Well I have lived here since 1981. Kelly was born and raised in Alaska. Did you not know that? She was highly qualified and if we start talking about from AK perhaps Senator Sullivan wouldn’t receive your vote either. Mitch McConnell is not from a very red state and I cannot believe you actually believed his ads. The point was he is a Republican doing what democrats do to Republicans. I am sorry but I don’t vote for someone because of the pork they bring to the state,,,,not when they are about to bankrupt the nation. I also don’t agree that fisheries is more important than oil. Oil has done more for this state than any resource we have. But I appreciate a sensible discussion. My discussion was about Lisa as a Republican. I am involved in the Republican Party and have every right to expect our candidates to follow the platform…at least 80% of time. Something tells me you aren’t a social conservative. I am.

      • Judy, I thank you for the reply. You are correct, I am not much of a social conservative but on local government spending I am a fiscal conservative., As for national spending as Ronald Reagan proved, large deficits don’t matter. You see Judy, there is a wide spectrum of republicans and we are not all exactly the same.
        You are incorrect though about oil resource vs fishing resource importance because long after oil runs out we should still have a fisheries as long as we take care of it and God did not want the worlds largest red salmon spawning grounds of BB to be monkeyed with by foreign mining company Northern Dynasty.
        Summerize, big fan of yours and like your radio call in’s.
        We served together on the jury that decided the Eklutna low speed chase and assault on the police officer 😉

    • I find this line of thinking tiresome and infantile. “Only people who have lived here x length have the credentials to run for office”. Unless you’re a pansexual from Louisiana or a Berkeley import. Then all previously held convictions are moot.

      If you really mean this, let’s take it to its logical conclusion. Nobody not native gets to run for anything, ever.

  11. Well stated Judy. I wholeheartedly believe in your line ‘we stand for something or we stand for nothing at all’. But I also believe that the ARP is rotten from the top. The reason that we, as a party, are NOT seen as having a platform, is because in spite of having written planks of a platform, the party does not enforce adherence to these.
    Case in point; lisa murkowski. Not only does she repeatedly go against republican/conservative values, she actively campaigned for a democrat candidate during this last election. There is a party rule against that so why isn’t it being enforced? ‘Central Committee’ members pleading that they can’t do anything about her? Maybe they should have turned on the national news this morning to see how the Republican Party on Long Island is handling George Santos. Right in front of news cameras, they stated that Santos had disgraced the Party, the Party will no longer have anything to do with him, and they demanded is resignation. Want to show the Alaska republican party that the leadership has rules and is prepared to enforce them? Then do what Long Island did! Publicly separate the party from murkowski and demand her resignation.
    Another example; How did 11 republican state senators give away a slim majority? You can’t tell me that the ‘central committee’ didn’t know what they were up to. So why was it allowed to happen? If there was ANY pushback from the party, no one saw it. And if no one saw it, the pushback DID NOT HAPPEN!
    As rotten as I believe the leadership to be, I still believe in conservative/Republican values. But the only way I can even imagine changes in the party is if we, the little people of this party, get active and take control of each district. That will be the only way to rid ourselves of ‘the leadership’ that continues to support the murkowskis of our state and refuse to enforce party policies.

  12. I agree with you. We use to have a party rule about joining a coalition but can’t seem to find it anymore. Yes, get in the party and help us!

  13. Judy: it’s very simple. If Republicans want anyone’s vote, they have to bother to earn it. On a national stage they have not done so in a very long time.

    • Judy, you are such a pile of baloney!! Grow up! You were there putting the screws in to Kelly for Lisa for position and money. Do you really think everyone has blinders on? You were there when Lisa Murkie was censored. You were there when you voted to give Lisa millions for her advertising and gain the same position she held against Kelly in the April ARP meeting in Fairbanks. What a lot of baloney on the issues of political history. You were there with Ann Brown all the way, with knowledge of moneys to Lisa’s campaign against Kelly and protecting Ann Brown’s poor judgment because she in turn would be commended and rewarded by the national GOP. You were there and did not ask the ARP to have Lisa return the monies from past support for her no support on issues of the Republican party of Alaska. You were there as “martyr to a cause with Bronson, using the club and the party to enhance your wallet with a paycheck on the backs and support of monies to support a Republican mayor for election. What a lot of baloney! Get away from the podium and pencil and grow up! What lot of Baloney!! You are full of it!!

  14. First, great narrative Judy! I too share your frustrations, sometimes getting the better of me when I respond in writing in MRAK. I certainly agree that RCV is a major component that is negatively affecting true conservative candidates and certainly the dark $$$ from outside is a force to be reckoned with. I wholeheartedly agree and admire the Party Platform positions, listed on the AK GOP website, as it clearly states the foundations of the Party. However, I can’t discount that maybe our culture has changed in such a way that doesn’t resonate with a majority of voters, and they somehow feel disconnected, and therefore just don’t bother to vote?
    I will continue to be registered as a Republican and continue to vote “only” for conservative Republicans. And, I will continue to do everything in my power – influence to “un-elect” Lisa Murkowski, as she does not represent any amount of Republican Conservatism and Party Platform Values.

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