Monday newsletter: Report from Fairbanks convention


Good morning from Somewhere in Alaska … Dense, patchy fog in Juneau this morning, and that describes both the weather and the Legislature… More stories will be up at later today. Photo above is of Sen. Dan Sullivan speaking on Thursday in Fairbanks … Thanks for your support and good wishes … Subscribe here.

Annie Baker: This newsletter is dedicated to Annie Baker, who passed away in her sleep last Wednesday. She had been ailing for some time. Annie was the wife of Larry Baker, longtime political, business, and civic leader in Anchorage, and she was a 50-year member of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club. Many lawmakers owed their wins to her avid, old-school campaign volunteering. She and Larry had been married for 50 years and recently celebrated their Golden Anniversary. Larry has been a senior advisor to Mayor Dave Bronson since his election last year, and has been caring for Annie as her health failed over recent months.
Services are Wednesday at 3 pm at First Presbyterian Church on the Park Strip downtown, and a celebration of life is at 4:30 at the Downtown Marriott. We’ll see you there.

Fairbanks was terrific. I love that beautiful Golden Heart community. 
There had not been an in-person convention for the Republican Party in four years, and there were some who sadly didn’t make it through those four years, but most did, and it was like a family reunion. The GOP had tremendous attendance from old and especially young, with a lot of new faces involved in the party.

Random notes from the convention:

  • Myrna moment: During the video memorial for Congressman Don Young, the crowd cheered when they saw a photo shown of the late congressman with one of his most loyal supporters, the late Myrna Maynard. She was well-remembered by old timers. Myrna died in 2019.
  • Truman Reed: Also in the video, the late Don Young was photographed with the current campaign manager for Nick Begich, Truman Reed, both much younger when that photo was taken.
  • Rep. Brian Mast: Anne Young, widow of Don Young, introduced the Friday evening’s keynote speaker, Rep. Brian Mast, a purple heart veteran who represents the 18th district in Florida. Mast knocked it out of the park with the audience, telling great stories about Don Young.
  • No clap for you: During Mast’s speech, everyone rose for a rousing standing ovation. Sarah Palin rose but noticeably did not clap.
  • Fell flat: People enjoyed the video memorial for Don Young, but were ready to move on. When candidate Tara Sweeney took a shot at candidate Nick Begich for having campaigned since before the congressman died (since way back in October), it fell flat in the room and seemed like sour grapes. She also lectured the room for being unfair, and that also didn’t win her any love.
  • People booed Sweeney when she wasn’t able to say definitively whether transgenders should compete in women’s sports.
  • Entitlement mentality: A random blogger was upset that he had not applied for press credentials and was not allowed inside the convention, which was sold out. The blogger thought he would bully his way in, the way he has bullied the governor’s office to give him access. It didn’t work with the Republicans in Fairbanks, so instead he had someone in the room recording the event for him, while he was tweeting it out. The party knew there was a mole, but could not identify the person or was unwilling to act on it, even though there had been a stated rule — no recording of the party business meeting. Must Read Alaska knows who it is but will let the party handle it or not handle it.
  • Gaggle: More reporters were at the Republican Convention than in recent history, including two reporters from the Fairbanks News Miner, two reporters from the Anchorage Daily News, and one television reporter from Channel 11.
  • Dunleavy fundraiser: The fundraiser for the Governor’s Fund in the party had about 50 people attending, at $250 each, so they should have raised about $12,000. It’s just called the Governor’s Fund; it’s not targeted for anything until there’s a targeting committee decision. Another problem with Ballot Measure 2, the party has no basis to give to one candidate or another, under existing rules. Kind of messy.
  • New people: The percentage of new attendees was high: At least 41 percent of the people there had never been at an Alaska Republican Convention. If it was a “good old boys club,” as Sarah Palin said, then there were sure a lot of young and enthusiastic good old boys and girls. Attendance was about 50-50 men and women at the meeting.
  • There were more members of the Legislature in attendance than at any other convention in recent memory.
  • Missing was Rep. Sara Rasmussen and Kelly Merrick, but they were spotted at the Wild Sheep Foundation banquet on Saturday night in Anchorage sitting with Josh Revak.
  • Scotty spotted: Seen in the lobby of the hotel was Sen. Scott Kawasaki, a Democrat, just hanging around gathering intel.
  • Introductions: House Minority Leader Cathy Tilton, introduced all the minority Republican members of the House — Laddie Shaw, DeLena Johnson, David Nelson, Mike Cronk, Sarah Vance, Kevin McCabe, Tom McKay, Ken McCarty, James Kaufman, Mike Prax, Bart LeBon, Ron Gillham, former Rep. Lance Pruitt, former Rep. Sharon Jackson, formerRep. Dan Saddler, former Rep. Nick Stepovich. former Rep. Dick Randolph, and former Sen. Ralph Seekins.
  • Tilton not introduce House Speaker Louise Stutes, who caucuses with the Democrats. Stutes, however, stayed the whole convention and sat with her district. No one introduced her as a sitting legislator. She is a Republican.
  • Senate members present included Senate President Peter Micciche, Majority Leader Shelley Hughes, Mike Shower, Roger Holland, Rob Myers, Josh Revak. Also former State. Sen. Jerry Ward.
  • Mayor Dave Bronson of Anchorage, Mayor Bryce Ward of Fairbanks, and Mayor Joshua Verhagen of Nenana attended.
  • Former Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell was in attendance and emceed the candidate forum.
  • Former party chairs Tuckerman Babcock, Jim CrawfordTom McKay, and Randy Ruedrich were present for the entire convention.
  • Tara Sweeney got a jab in at Sarah Palin. Sweeney called herself a Ted Stevens Republican, “not a Ted Nugent Republican.” 
  • Palin took to social media and said she was mocked at the GOP convention for being a Ted Nugent Republican, and “that’s my badge of honor.”
  • Sarah Palin‘s campaign table was staffed most of the time by Jerry and Margaret Ward,Josh Revak’s table was rarely staffed, and Tara Sweeney‘s table was not staffed at all. Nick Begich‘s table was staffed by Truman Reed and at four volunteers who rotated shifts.
  • Kelly Tshibaka’s table was staffed by Matt Sparks and several volunteers.
  • There was no campaign table for Lisa Murkowski, nor even a representative or proxy voter for her, but the convention organizers allowed her campaign to put a “Lisa” ballpoint pen into the welcome bag, along with a sweet pen from the Teamsters, and a handful of campaign stickers from candidates like Kelly Tshibaka.
  • Candidate for House Jamie Allard was endorsed by the Alaska Republican Party. She had been endorsed by her district first, per the rules. She’s running for the open House seat in Eagle River.
  • (Sarah Palin was overhead asking someone, “Who is Jamie Allard?”)
  • Frank Tomaszewski was endorsed by the Republican Party for his race against Fairbanks Rep. Grier Hopkins. Learn more about him here.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan was the featured speaker at a fundraiser for the Fairbanks Republican Women on Thursday night before the start of the Alaska Republican Convention.He also spoke during the convention prior to remarks by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

Republicans change the rules for what ‘membership’ means, a direct hit back at Ballot Measure 2 – This is big. The party says that it will decide which candidate for office is a member for the purpose of keeping fakers from being able to use the Republican brand.

The new membership criteria will keep people like China Bill Walker from being able to put an R by his name for the November ballot. The State Division of Elections will need to adjust to the new reality. Read more here.

Alaska Republicans vote in Ann Brown as chair, Mike Robbins as vice chair – Party business to get officers in place in Fairbanks included former Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell retiring from the vice chairmanship. Read more here.

First congressional candidate forum features Begich, Sweeney, Coghill, Palin – Lots was said, plenty was left unsaid, and a couple of pot shots were taken at the candidates who were perceived to be leading. Everyone loved Coghill. Sweeney lectured. Read more here.

Palmer final results unchanged as three bounced from city council – The landslide continued and three council seats are now open in the Palmer government. What happens next? Read more here.

Palin lashes out at ‘good ol’ boy network’ in the Republican Party – She was angry the party didn’t endorse her. That was before she asked for an endorsement on Saturday. Read more here.

Tshibaka gives message of unity, gets two standing ovations – It’s clear the Alaska Republican Party is on the side of Kelly Tshibaka for U.S. Senate. They gave her a lot of love and encouragement. Read more here.

Alaska Republican Party endorses Nick Begich – The vote came on Thursday during the initial meeting of the officers of the party. Read more here.

Republicans condemn China Bill – The Republicans passed a resolution saying his dealings with China were a threat to national security. Read more here.

Juneau — Alaska’s most vaccinated city — is masking the kids again – Children in Juneau are being forced to go behind masks once again, even though the hospital is not under any pressure. Read more here.

BLM opens land selections to Native Vietnam vets – Sec. of Interior Deb Haaland is in Alaska, making friends for Biden. Read more here.

Art Chance: Anchorage elections were a disaster for sane people – At the bottom of the issue is Alaska’s very lax voter registration system.Read more here.

Jamie Allard: Covid was the perfect Trojan Horse for leftist ideology – Remember “two weeks to flatten the curve?” Let’s not forget the advantage that the leftists took during the pandemic. Read more here.

Bruce Campbell: My prediction for top four in congressional special election – A column by an astute observer says all four top candidates will be Republicans. Read more here.

Tshibaka: Voters say it’s time for a change in the Senate – If Lisa can’t stand up and defend Alaskans, then she should clean out her desk. Read more here.

Bob Bird: Alaskans Independence Party convention – The party is not secessionist. It’s more complicated than that. Read more here.

Charlie Pierce: Bycatch is an Alaska tragedy – Gubernatorial candidate says bycatch will be a priority for his administration. Read more here.

Jim Crawford: The PFD and the need for a constitutional convention – If not now, when would Alaskans ever have a chance to fix our broken government and repair our constitution? Read more here.

Hayden Ludwig: Watch out Alaskans, more partisan news on the way – The States Newsroom has a very checkered and leftist past. Read more here.

Subscribe to the Must Read Alaska Newsletter here.


  1. Outstanding reporting, Suzanne. Thank you for being so informative for those who could not make the Convention, and would have to otherwise rely on misstated facts by the ADN and Newsminer. You really covered many facets about the state of affairs of the Alaska Republican Party. You also have a keen eye for detail, such as Sarah Palin not clapping after Mast’s speech, and little Scottie lapdoggie Kawasaki snooping in at the Westmark Hotel because his mommy wanted him out of the house that day.
    We readers at MRAK appreciate all you do to keep us up to date on Alaska politics, dirty linen and all.

  2. How nice to see Senator Sullivan was able to get away from the crucibles in the different locations comprising what passes for political business as usual at the higher echelons to share some thoughts with conservatives.

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