THE PARTY SETS RULES, AND IT WANTS TO ENFORCE THEM
The chairman of the Alaska Republican Party has asked the Division of Elections to reconsider its stance on refusing to honor the party’s rules prohibiting Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Paul Seaton, and Louise Stutes from running as Republicans in the August primary.
Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke last month responded to Tuckerman Babcock’s request to respect the party’s rules, and she said without a court order she would not agree.
The matter stems from a series of actions the party took after LeDoux, Seaton, and Stutes left the elected Republican majority in 2016 and formed a coalition with Democrats, giving them control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1993.
After Bahnke said she would not enforce the party’s rules, Babcock returned to the State Executive Committee for a decision, and the group wholeheartedly supported taking legal measures to protect the party from the three rogue Republicans.
“As you know, the controlling case in freedom of association and political parties is Tashijan.In that case the Republican Party of Connecticut desired to expand those eligible to vote in the Republican primary and the State of Connecticut refused. The freedom of association argument won. In Alaska, the Alaska Republican Party desired to restrict, not expand, those eligible to vote in the Republican primary — contrary to state law. The State of Alaska recognized the constitutional authority inherent in Tashijan and recognized the right of the party to restrict those who could participate in Republican primary,” Babcock wrote on Saturday in a letter to Bahnke.
Babcock was referring to the Republicans’ closed ballot in the Alaska primary, where people who are undeclared with a party or nonpartisan may vote in it along with registered Republicans, but others — registered Democrats, for instance — may not vote the GOP primary ballot.
“Now we have the Superior and Supreme Courts in Alaska ruling in favor of the constitutional right of a political party to expandthe candidates eligible to run in the primary. Once again the constitutional principle is the freedom of association. Once again the courts acknowledge and recognize that right. The response from the Alaska Republican Party was to apply the constitutional principle identified by the courts to restrict known turncoats and frauds from the Republican primary,” he wrote.
“We are shocked that the Division of Elections flatly refuses to treat the right of association equally between the Democrat and the Republican Parties. Or to follow the precedent set subsequent to Tashijan,” Babcock wrote. “What is the constitutional principle relied upon by you to differentiate between the Democrat and Republican Party internal party rules? Is it the State’s position that every subsection and paragraph of state election law must be litigated before you will recognize when a clear constitutional right has been identified by the courts?”
Babcock asked Bahnke to reconsider her decision and honor the party’s rules.
“The State Executive Committee of the ARP has authorized me to pursue all legal means to enforce our Rules. However, a lawsuit, besides needless expense and a waste of court time, would leave the candidacies of LeDoux, Seaton and Stutes in limbo and their eligibility in question. There is no harm to the electorate at large, nor any harm to the three apostate incumbents, from enforcing our Rule insofar as those three individuals can still run for office as petition candidates in the general election or as candidates of another political party.”