Political intrigue at the Alaska Republican Convention

TOWNSEND: The state Republican Convention started this afternoon in Fairbanks. We sent APRN reporter Liz Ruskin to check it out. Liz, how’s it going there?

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Party chair Peter Goldberg holds an orientation for first-time delegates to the state convention (Photo by Liz Ruskin, APRN - Washington D.C.)
Party chair Peter Goldberg holds an orientation for first-time delegates to the state convention (Photo by Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington D.C.)

RUSKIN: Good! I’m in the Westmark in Fairbanks, and About 400 people are coming here, from around the state, 160 of them now are vying to be a delegate to the national convention, in Cleveland. There are only 25 slots to fill, so I talked to a couple of people who are really really hopeful. One guy, I noticed, is carrying around copies of his resume, on bright orange paper.

TOWNSEND: What else is going on?

RUSKIN: Boy, it’s all about Cleveland. The first event today was an orientation, and Party Chairman Peter Goldberg dropped a bombshell, or hinted at one anyway.

TOWNSEND: You mean about the national convention?

RUSKIN: Right. Peter told everybody that a national tv crew is here, from Fox News. And he suggested they may be on to something. Here, Let’s play it:

“I’m not going to tell you what Fox News is here for, but it’s going to be exciting. Suffice to say Alaska, the massive state with such a small population, might have a bigger influence on the selection for the Republican nominee for the presidency, than you might think. And the rest of the nation may find that out tomorrow.”

TOWNSEND: What the heck is that about?

RUSKIN: I think it has to do with the state party’s rules for binding delegates to a particular candidate. Bear with me while I get a little election-nerdy here. The state convention will choose 12 delegates for Sen. Cruz, 11 for Donald Trump and five for Marco Rubio, who asked to keep his delegates even though he suspended his campaign.  According to existing state party rules, those delegates have no choice but to stay with their assigned candidate through at least two rounds of balloting in Cleveland. I think Peter Goldberg is saying the State Central Committee is going to change those rules to the Alaska delegation will be more influential. Or that’s what he’s proposing, anyway.

TOWNSEND: Well, we’ll stay tuned.

RUSKIN: OK, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Lori Townsend is the news director and senior host for Alaska Public Media. You can send her news tips and program ideas for Talk of Alaska and Alaska Insight at ltownsend@alaskapublic.org or call 907-550-8452.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her atlruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Lizhere.

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