Alaska GOP: Establishment, Tea Party Fight for Control

Russ Millette was elected chairman of the Alaska Republican Party in April when a group of Ron Paul supporters, tea party backers, and anti-establishment delegates showed up at the state party's convention in large numbers. In Alaska, the Republican Party chairman is elected in an even numbered year and begins his term at the beginning of the next year.

Outgoing chairman Randy Ruedrich supported Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent Senator who lost the 2012 Republican primary to tea party backed Joe Miller, only to defeat him as a write-in candidate in the general election. Incoming chairman Millette supported Miller in both the primary and the general.

Ruedrich's term ends on February 1, at which time Millette, who currently serves as the party's finance chairman, is scheduled to take over the chairman's position. But that transfer of power may not occur if a rules violation challenge to Millette's victory, filed by Ruedrich and Frank McQueary, chairman of the party's rules committee, succeeds at a special meeting of the Alaska Republican Party's executive committee that will be held this evening in Anchorage.

Former Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller described the rules violation letter Millette received last week:

With respect to Chair-elect Millette, the most serious charges are that he misrepresented his life-long affiliation with the Republican Party (he was “undeclared” in his party affiliation for a period of time) and failed to raise money for the party over the last several months.

The letter also contends that the [Alaska Republican Party] convention where the [Alaskan Republican Party] new chair and vice-chair were elected was taken over by “an organized group of political activists registered as Republicans … with the express purpose of ‘taking over’ Republican party operations and disrupting the normal candidate selection process.” The [Alaskan Republican Party] official’s letter continues, “These activists had no prior history of positive conservative political activity or support for the Republican Party Platform or Republican candidates.”

The rules violation complaint has been brought against Millette, incoming vice chairwoman Debra Holle Brown, and two other Alaska Republican Party officials.

Millette told the Anchorage Daily News that he intends to fight the charges of rules violations brought by Ruedrich. He wants to assume the party chairman position in February, he says.  "I won, fair and square, by their rules. Yes, I want it -- I want to bring honesty, truth and transparency to the party."

Ruedrich has long been a powerhouse in the Alaska Republican Party, and is well known for his conflicts with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.




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