GOP in Cleveland: Alaskans shout their say in floor chaos

Tuckerman and Kristie Babcock chat with Alaska delegate Jerry Ward in a lighter moment on convention floor. Photo: Liz Ruskin
Tuckerman and Kristie Babcock chat with Alaska delegate Jerry Ward in a lighter moment on convention floor. Photo: Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media.

A ruckus erupted on the floor of the Republican National Convention yesterday afternoon. For many, it may have been the last gasp of an effort to nominate someone other than Donald Trump, but some Alaska delegates had another motivation.

“There was a lot of yelling and enthusiasm from Texas, Colorado, Virginia, Alaska, Wyoming. And our group was right in the middle of it,” said Alaska GOP chairman Tuckerman Babcock. “And Alaskans have no hesitation in making their voices heard.”

Babcock says for the Alaskans, the passion seemed to be about procedure. He says delegates Fred Brown, Dave Donley and Doyle Holmes circulated a petition calling for roll call votes, and a majority of the 28 Alaska delegates signed.

“I didn’t agree with them, but I’m not the kind of chairman who shuts them down,” Babcock said.

A majority of eight other delegations signed the petition, too. That could have forced a series of roll call votes.

For some delegates in the room, the goal was to unbind delegates so they could vote for candidates other than Trump. Delegate Dave Donley, a former state senator from Anchorage, says he was fighting for the integrity of the convention process and trying to correct what he saw as a problem at the last convention, four years ago. (That year, supporters of candidate Ron Paul felt they were getting railroaded and complained that the rules were used to shut them up.)

Donley points out that at conventions, thousands of guests and observers crowd the floor.

“So if you hold a voice vote, you don’t know who’s voting, right? So it was just a procedural thing. It had nothing to do with the candidates, either way,” Donley said.

In any event, the whole effort fell flat when people started withdrawing their names from the petition.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.

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