Youth movement surges through Alaska Republican Party convention

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Carmela Warfield, chairwoman of the Alaska Republican Party describes her admiration for Ronald Reagan, as outgoing Chairwoman Ann Brown sits nearby.

It’s been eight years since the Alaska Republican Party has had an in-person state convention during a presidential election year. The 2020 convention was held on a Zoom call due to the Covid pandemic, and, as with others around the country, was only memorable because it was forgettable.

In those eight years, the party has churned through four chairmen — Peter Goldberg, Tuckerman Babcock, Glenn Clary, and Ann Brown.

This year, the election of party officers was electrifying in that it trended younger. A new generation is taking over. At the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, where some 300 delegates gathered this weekend to conduct party business, the younger generation answered the call to serve.

Anchorage Republican Women’s Club President Judy Eledge hugs new Alaska Republican Party Chairwoman Carmela Warfield, wearing a Ronald Reagan t-shirt. Warfield was five years old when Reagan was president.

The candidates for the chairmanship included Nikki Rose, who was the first of the four to declare her intention to run for chair last fall. Others were Carmela Warfield, party Vice Chairman Mike Robbins, and a few weeks ago former state Sen. Jerry Ward declared his nomination. But Carmela Warfield won in a landslide, with about 59% of the vote.

Warfield is 49 years old, one of the youngest party chairs to preside over the Alaska Republicans in years. She is a veteran of volunteer work at the grassroots level, and as a member and president of the Hillside Community Council. She is 20 years younger than outgoing Chairwoman Ann Brown and immediate past chair Glenn Clary. While Brown has been in party leadership for a decade, Clary left the state for career opportunity, allowing Brown, then vice chairwoman, to become chair for the past three years.

Zackary Gottshall, the newly elected vice chairman, is also a quarter century younger than outgoing Vice Chair Robbins, now in his 60s. Gottshall is a veteran of the U.S. Army, in which he served as an intelligence officer. He is the chairman of the Alaska Human Rights Commission. He’s newer to party politics, where Robbins has been involved for years, and was the inaugural chairman for the Trump victory party in 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Trevor Shaw of Ketchikan, who was elected as Alaska Republican Party secretary, is 28, having been born when Democrat Bill Clinton was president. Shaw has been serving as the party’s assistant secretary, and served as parliamentarian during the two-day convention. Shaw has been involved with the Republican Party for a decade and was once the youngest elected member of the Ketchikan School Board.

Brian Hove, the new National Committeeman, is a decade younger than outgoing committeeman, former Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who has served for the past two years after the retirement of Mike Tauriainen. Hove has been the party’s regional representative for the Region 4-Anchorage of the ARP and is on the State Executive Committee.

Cynthia Henry of Fairbanks, National Committeewoman for the past decade, was not challenged for her position, and will continue serving on the RNC. She will provide the continuity and historical perspective for all the young Republicans emerging in party leadership roles.

Ryan Sheldon, chair of District 30, led the convention in singing the Star Spangled Banner and the Alaska Flag Song at the Alaska Republican Party’s 2024 convention.

The youth movement was characterized by Talkeetna resident Ryan Sheldon, who is related to former party vice chairman Frank McQueary. Sheldon, 25, led the room in the singing of the National Anthem and the Alaska Flag Song at the outset of the convention, wowing the crowd with his confident and tone-perfect performance.

Sheldon is the newly elected chair of the District 30 Republicans. His district stretches from Port MacKenzie to Healy and Anderson. Overheard among convention-goers were comments about Sheldon being a rising star in Alaska politics, someone who has what it takes to make a great governor some day. Sheldon led the Campaign and Finance committee at the convention and will be involved in fundraising going forward.

Jason Warfield, husband of Chairwoman Carmela Warfield, stepped down as Finance chairman but he will raise money for candidates and will stay involved.

Kevin Fimon, longtime campaign treasurer for candidates such as Gov. Mike Dunleavy, is the new treasurer for the party, replacing Rhonda Boyles, who will serve as assistant treasurer.

Ryan McKee, of Alaska Young Republicans, is the new Finance chairman. He has been leading the state’s grassroots youth efforts in Alaska for a decade, beginning with College Republicans, Anchorage Young Republicans, and Mat-Su Young Republicans. He also was state director for Americans for Prosperity and serves on the national board of Young Republicans.

The Saturday keynote speaker was Nick Begich, candidate for U.S. House, and he was another example of the younger generation of the Alaska Republican Party who are ascending.

Begich, 46, received an overwhelming level of support from the convention, with people cheering and clapping repeatedly during his 45-minute address and question-and-answer period, all given without notes or script.

The youth movement at Alaska Republican Party convention included young parents and their children.

Nancy Dahlstrom, Alaska’s lieutenant governor, age 66, had been the keynote speaker on Friday night, and was received with a polite and respectful response from the party, even though she is endorsed by House Speaker Mike Johnson, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and others.

The convention positive energy was exemplified by Nick Begich at the Alaska Republican Party convention, as members of the convention wore Begich campaign hats and pins during the entire three days.

The convention approved the slate of 29 delegates who will attend the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July, where Donald Trump will presumably be formally nominated as the party’s nominee.

Those delegates include: Cynthia Henry, National Committeewoman, Craig Campbell, National Committeeman, Sheryl Yelsley, Barbara Tyndall, Cheryl Markwood, Patty Wise, George Hall, Kevin Hall, Leona Oberts, Robert Wall, Bryan Scoresby, DeLena Johnson, Earl Lackey, George Rauscher, Robert Hall, Ryan McKee, Dave Bronson, Dave Donley, Dawn Linton Warren, Jamie Allard, Jason Warfield, John Powers, Loran Baxter, Mikaela Emswiler, Portia Erickson, Robin Billet, Tetyana Robbins, and Zack Young. If any of those cannot attend, there are alternates in the queue. Chairwoman Warfield is an automatic delegate as well.

Portia Erickson will chair the Alaska delegation to Milwaukee.

Portia Erickson, who is vice chairwoman of Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, is the delegation chairwoman. Trevor Shaw is the aide for the delegation going to Republican National Convention.

Trevor Shaw will be the delegation aide to Milwaukee.

Also chosen during the convention were the three electors for the Alaska Republican Party. Those are the three who will cast the Electoral College vote for Alaska, after the November election is certified. The electors are Ron Johnson of the Mat-Su Valley, Rick Whitbeck of Anchorage, Eileen Becker of Homer, and alternate elector Gloria Shriver of Anchorage.

The delegates on Saturday voted on numerous resolutions that came out of committees that had met the day before. They included everything from the sanctity of life to the support for commonsense energy policy.

ARP Chairwoman Carmela Warfield said the positive energy that built during the convention was one of its most notable characteristics.

“I feel like we’ve worked hard to bring our young Republican alongside our more experienced Republicans to bring our party together and move into the future,” she said, adding that one of her goals when she ran for party chair is to follow President Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican.

From her website set up earlier this spring to promote her candidacy for chair, Warfield says, “The Alaska Republican Party must focus its efforts to expand its reach and membership, including recruiting new and younger members who share our core values and principles …”

On Sunday morning, Must Read Alaska reached out to Warfield, who expressed her appreciation for everyone who participated in the convention and said that she will work hard to bring the party together in a positive way.

64 COMMENTS

  1. As a conservative, I can tell u the Repubs left me a long time ago. Actions are greater than words.

    • The GOP also left me behind – I am having my party affiliation changed to Libertarian.
      I can’t *handle* the hypocrisy anymore of the State GOP – the fact the committee did NOT allow a vote to remove the party’s platform stance against gay marriage to maintain is just showing how backwards the state party is. Trump has always been a supporter of gays. Even in Florida, DeSantis has supported gays (he’s had years to shut down lots of other gay-related agenda items, but even the State GOP has backed away from defining marriage as between a man and a woman). 46 of 50 state GOP parties have backed away from making Gay Marriage a party platform item.

      Christians lost the marriage battle YEARS ago when the government started allowing marriages to be performed by almost anyone properly ordained or by a judge. And the fact that if my partner were to get in a car wreck, and I go to the ER – they won’t let me see him if I don’t have my proper papers with me to prove relationship, whereas right now if I say that’s my husband/spouse, they let you on in to help and assist.

      Instead, the Alaska GOP party needs to be named the party of MEAN and hypocrits. So much for “less government involvement”. We argue day in and day out about “My body, my choice” with the pro-choicers, tell folks to stay out of our gun cabinets, but the State GOP instead wants to force me to take horrible extra steps to show I am committed to ONE PERSON by following strict Christian cannon when it comes to Marriage. Its not about taking your stupid ceremony away from you – in fact, I’d ask that EVERY delegate at the GOP convention refrain from voting on marriage related platform issues if they have had a divorce…. how many would that leave? 2? 3?.

      Ya’ll need to wake up.. even Palin allowed gay rights for state employees without a lawsuit. I’m a moderate/conservative, and can’t think of voting for Biden in the next election – but now I think I’m just going to sit out, because the party I align with most has just said they don’t need me. Sadly, there’s lots of us out there. But you wonder why Biden got elected the first go around, and how Pelota got in office. You all are on the wrong side of history with this and will NOT be happy come November for local Alaskan Republicans.

  2. What a wonderful article about the new leadership and enthusiasm of the AK Republican Party. Many of us who have served for many years looked hard to
    to find and encourage young people that support our vision and values. I met both Ryan McKee and Portia Erickson as college Republicans, and helped mentored them into where they stand today.
    ARWC members Carmela, Portia and Stacey Stone (ARP legal council) make our hearts soar and our years of service worth it all. It also supports Ted Steven’s motto:“Republican women are the heart of the party!!”
    (One correction on article. Portia Erickson’s is Co-President of ARWC leading our Campaign and Candidate Committee).

  3. There should be no “youth movement.” Nor gender movement. Nor race movement. Nor any other movement based upon a faction of our culture. The movement should be truth vs lies; right vs wrong, proper vs improper, decency vs diversity, etc. Wisdom and righteousness has no relation to any faction. If those with truth happen to be young then so be it; that is not a “youth movement;” its is a truth movement. If it is not of the truth then it is doomed to continue the failure of the Republican party.

    • Only those on the left think words do not have meanings. Youth is a descriptive term, just like elderly is a descriptive term. A person can be young and wise or elderly and foolish. Sometimes the get off my lawn and shouting at everything approach isn’t the right approach, this is one of those times.

    • Golly Wayne, our generation adhered to the ” youth is truth” slogan in our coming of age moment. It’s interesting that now, that we as ” geezers” find yourself disavowing of such relevant categories.

      Truth is truth despite the age of the one who speaks it, however it’s also true that unless we cultivate the younger generation to speak the truth, it, Truth will surely die with us.

      And by the way, didn’t you vote for Carter back in ’76? Just saying… Credit these youngsters when appropriate old friend.

      • Yeh, I voted for Carter when I was 18yrs old; my first presidential vote. As you recall, the media had painted a bleak picture of corruption for my impressionable young eyes at the time. In my high school experience economic concepts were never discussed. Political ideologies were not something I understood. I admit my early retardation in those concepts. I just wanted to clean house in government. To this day, I view Carter as an enigma; he simultaneously ranks as one of the most honest presidents ever; as well as one of the most incompetent.

    • I think your wrong.
      We need the youth, they are the future.
      They will bring more young people to vote GOP, as the young will relate to younger candidates.
      Nothing makes me smile more then minorities & young people in the Republican Party; without them we will continue to lose to young progressives …. uh excuse me I meant regressives.
      Demographics are changing & we should too ….

      • George, you totally missed my points. You are literally saying we must bring climate alarmists, communists, globalists, perverts, freeloaders, illegal aliens, socialists, leftists of all kinds…. as long as they are minorities or young people. However, neither race nor age truly matter. What matters is their ideology, morality, and patriotic commitment to our republic as established under our constitution. Logic does not argue; it does not engage in hope; it just stands firm. Only a weak fool like me embraces in hope by arguing.

        • I did not say young republicans will be greenies, commies, globalists, perverts, freeloaders, illegals, socialists, or leftists.

          Are you drunk?

      • there’s going to be fewer and fewer young Alaskan Republicans because the GOP committee heads decided to maintain the party platform of repealing gay marriage. You really won’t find very many folks under 40 who support that part of the platform.

        …. there’s going to be a lot of crying in November. As much as you want to be “right”, you still need to win 50% or more. Telling gays like me we are 3rd class citizens is going to have us sitting out the election rather than casting a vote for a conservative or moderate Republican.

    • I agree on the wording. When I first read the headline and saw the photo, I was expecting to read something negative. It is important that our youth get involved, but not because they are “grouping up,” but because their desire to save this country is superseding any other plans or feelings that they may have.

  4. I have lost faith in Alaska’s republican party. They don’t seem to mind republican candidates running of office and when elected they side with the democrats. This proves that you never know what your electing with a republican.

      • Rene, it actually seems to be the inverse. A Democrat tells you he wants to drag our republic down into leftist, communist socialism and free-spending. Then, when elected, he follows through. On the other hand, a Republican candidate tells you he wants to uplift our republic with free markets, moral policies and fiscal conservatism. Then, when elected, he shape-shifts and follows the Democrat agenda. The average Democrat keeps election promises far more often than the average Republican. Consequently, the Republicans are not the lesser of two evils.

  5. Ak Democrats had its Youth or Millennial movement and it wrecked their party before they had discernment which “youth” was a radical vs who was of sound mind and reason

    • As long as she’s not in Alaska, I truly don’t care. God bless and keep her – far, far away.

    • She was here last week to watch her boyfriend Ron play hockey at the Sullivan Arena.
      Hope she’s back in NY now.

      • Maybe it’s faulty memory due to old age, but I seem to remember she claimed her number one post election priority was defeating RCV.

        If so, she did a crappy job of it.

  6. I don’t give a crap about their ages. Where do they stand on cleaning up our broken elections and fighting for the constitution?

  7. It’s good to see the younger generations taking over, the older generation hasn’t done the best job that they could have done…see the current Presidential race and congressional age related demographic makeup. Sometimes when the elderly lose their ability to function it’s for the best that they allow others to take over, sometimes the relatively younger folks simply need to offer a better alternative.

  8. Ann Brown I still think your a coward you could of should of but did not sanction murkowski that may have been a start but nope, President Trump set the oath integrity pace & set the example of what to follow, that man showed all a child could do it it’s just doing the right thing all. I registered as a republican out of respect for President Trumps accomplishments & red tape cut. No Alaska is a bunch of stuck on stupid Dems, prove me wrong I dare ya republicans so help you GOD oath takers. We the people get are full dividends please give us oath integrity we deserve it also integrity is all.

  9. I don’t care how old they are. I would like to see some conservative positions, not aligned with the Chamber of Commerce uniparty. And a willingness to fight for their issues. Maybe some election integrity to start?

    • I totally agree. I know that these younger folks are heavily involved with uniparty folks, so I hope that they are able to stand on their own two feet and make a difference instead of going along to get along. I know very few in the Republican groups are that willing to hold a fire under candidates/representative’s feet to make them do what they promised to do. They are all worried about getting along and giving a little here-taking a little there. I am really disappointed – to this day – in our Lt. Governor and our Republican party for not being more vocally supportive and helping to get rid of ranked choice voting AND working on election integrity. We will have nothing if we don’t get the election integrity exposed and under control!
      causeofamerica.org

  10. I wish the new leaders well. One of the first things they will need to get to grips with is the divide in the party. We have the “America First GOP” and the “Uniparty GOP”. The Reagan era doctrine of never speaking ill of another GOP’er is no longer realistic. Until one of the factions is driven from the party there will be no progress.

      • That quote shows just how out of touch Dennis Prager apparently is.

        MANY if not most Republicans are no better than, and virtually indistinguishable from, a Democrat. Tell me how, for example, our dear Princess Lisa is better than the average Democrat? She IS the average Democrat!

        • So who will you vote for Jefferson?
          Democrats or Losertarians, since the Republicans are not worthy of your vote?
          You could not vote I suppose & help the Progressives that way.

          I voted for Bush Jr. but was REALLY disappointed w/ his TSA, H’land Security crap, which is now with us forever, but I would vote for him again over Al Gore.

          • It’s a tough question. I don’t want Trump because of his baggage. Grandpa Bloodstains speaks for itself. While I’ll hold my nose and vote Trump, it’s because he is the least offensive of my available choices. Not because I believe in him.

            I really wish there was another credible choice, but this is the hand we’re dealt.

            Ultimately, the GOP needs to be put to pasture like an old crippled horse. But the time to do that is between major elections, not during one.

  11. I have to say that I stopped being super active in the party due to the last two Chairs. The 100% focus on national politicians at the expense of state and local politicians, set us up for the loss of several important and long time republican seats, especially in the AK House. Until the state party returns to supporting state races, I’ll sit on the sidelines.

    • Brian, it is that very attitude that you talk about that is going to get us all put in FEMA camps. This trainwreck is not going to get straightened out until we all jump in and work on it. Sometimes you have to go into the beast’s den to get rid of it. Get in there and start working on getting rid of it. causeofamerica.org

  12. Am I allowed to attend any of the Republican Women’s Club meetings? I miss being with all the old ladies.

  13. Am I alone here in my observation of the irony that the new incoming Party Chair is pictured wearing a Reagan 1980 shirt in an article titled ” Youth Movement”.
    Wasn’t Reagan at 69 the oldest man ever to be elected President?

    • The fact she is harking back to one of the most principled conservatives may because the importance of her age is not so much her obsession but rather that of others so deluded as to believe it all important. Dismissing elderly because their age is akin to dismissing Dr Ben Carson’s intelligence because of his race.

  14. If the Republicans ae to gain back the seat lost in 2022 to Petola they need to come together around one candidate and not have the repeat losing to an inferior representative of the people of Alaska. Petola has scribed to the national Democratic party line and continues to vote against Alaskans life blood mineral extraction. Dalstrom needs to back out and let the youth movement take hold in Alaska as we move to the future or we will be living in a National Park not a state dominated by sustainable and environmentally clean resource extraction.

  15. Doesn’t matter if the individual is 21 or 81: if they support restraints on government and fight against federal overreach, they have my support. Hopefully the new leadership in AK Republicans will get the conservative leaning voters of Alaska off their keesters and to the polls.

    • What does that mean?
      She will get results fast?
      She will be in therapy?
      She will force us all to use her garbage trucks for our trash pickups?

  16. I remember when the youth movement surged through the Republican Party in Alaska in the mid-80s. Guys like Craig Campbell helped us neophytes learn the ropes and be more effective. The entrenched Republicans did everything they could to bury us. They just couldn’t and wouldn’t give up power, no matter how slim the power was. They pretended to be conservatives while enacting liberal policies. This hasn’t and won’t change. Back then the Grand OLD Party killed and ate its young. It remains to be seen this time, but I’m pretty sure this will happen again.

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