On Thursday night, the executive committee of the Alaska Republican Party met to consider charges of rules violations brought against incoming chairman Russ Millette. While the charges were aired, the meeting left the matter unresolved until February 1, the day Millette is scheduled to take over the reigns of party leadership from incumbent chairman Randy Ruedrich.
The event had all the trappings of a bare knuckles political brawl. On one side were the insurgents who had backed Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller in the 2012 election and supported incoming chairman Millette in his upset victory at the April 2012 party convention. On the other side were the establishment figures, led by outgoing chairman Ruedrich, who supported Lisa Murkowski in her successful write-in campaign to defeat Miller and the Democratic nominee in the 2012 Senate race.
An overflow crowd packed inside the small party headquarters in Anchorage as picketers patrolled outside the building and television cameras and reporters scrambled for access. Inside the building, the prosecutors of the charges--incumbent party chairman Randy Ruedrich, party rules chairman Frank McQueady, and national committeeman Ralph Seekins--sat behind a table at one end of the room while the targets of their inquiry -- incoming chairman Russ Millette and other incoming officers -- sat with the general public, and rose when called upon to defend themselves.
McQueady set forward the case against Millette, as the Alaska Dispatch reported, charging that Millette and his group of 800 insurgents "took over the party" at the April 2012 convention that elected him chairman. According to McQueady, these people “never contributed, never participated” in party activities before the convention, and “bullied and threatened and intimidated” other participants there.
The meeting ended with a sharp back and forth between the incoming chairman Millette and the outgoing Chairman Ruedrich. Millette said he wasn't sure he understood the charges and stated that "he didn't get a legible copy until a couple days before Thursday's hearing."
The final outcome of the challenge to Millette's chairmanship will be determined at another meeting on February 1. That event promises to be just as contentious as Thursday's meeting.