Gusto levels vary as Alaskans embrace Trump

Downtown Cleveland was the site of the GOP convention. Photo: Lawrence Ostrovsky.
Downtown Cleveland gussied up for the GOP convention. Photo: Lawrence Ostrovsky.

The Republican National Convention ends tonight in Cleveland with a big speech  by the party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Of course, Trump wasn’t Alaska’s first choice. Ted Cruz won the state’s GOP vote in March. Are they lining up behind the nominee? Yes. Mostly.

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John Moller of Juneau is a Cruz delegate. Going into the convention, he wasn’t sure he could fully back Trump. But Moller says that changed.

“It was a gradual migration, but (I’m) 100 percent on board now,” he says.

As the convention progressed, Moller says he got a better feel for who Trump is. That was one piece of his conversion.

“The importance of unity in our party is critical. That helped me get a little closer,” he said. “And just the events and the speakers, including Mr. Trump,  over the course of the last three days has helped me get there.”

Here’s a sign that his transformation  is complete: Moller says he’s “extremely disappointed” Cruz blew the opportunity to endorse Trump from the convention stage Wednesday night. Instead, Cruz urged people to “vote your conscience,” which drew loud boos.

Judy Eledge of Anchorage was an ardent Cruz champion, but is now on board the Trump train, too. She’s of two minds when it comes to Cruz’s non-endorsement. It makes sense, Eledge says, after all the insults Trump hurled earlier in the campaign.

Judy Eledge is a Cruz delegate who says she on board with Trump now. Photo: Lawrence Ostrovsky.
Judy Eledge is a Cruz delegate who says she’s on board with Trump now. Photo: Lawrence Ostrovsky.

“But I wish he would have at least said, ‘I’m going to support the Republican nominee.’ But he didn’t,” Eledge says. “And to me, Mr. Cruz is a man of principles. He’s not going to endorse someone who has talked about his father, his mother. He’s just not going to do it.”

Even on the final day of the convention, some of the Alaskans still wrestled with their doubts about Trump.

“I just don’t see him as a consistent, conservative-type candidate. I think he would have been a fantastic candidate for the Democrat party,” said Jesse Clutts of Anchor Point. He sounds like a guy still hoping for another option, because he knows for sure he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

“If you buy into that there’s only two people that you have a choice of, then I’m going to pull the lever for Donald Trump,” he said.

Is he convinced those are his only options? The question drew a resigned sigh.

“That seems to be the case,” he said.

Doyle Holmes of Willow is a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention. Photo: Lawrence Ostrovsky.
Doyle Holmes of Willow is a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention. Photo: Lawrence Ostrovsky.

And then there are those who embraced Trump from the get-go. Like delegate Doyle Holmes of Willow. He was on the convention floor for the dramatic Cruz speech. Holmes says Cruz seemed to be building to a big endorsement.

“And I thought he’s going to do it. And then he didn’t. And he actually went ahead and said the final words of his speech,” Holmes said. “That’s when the ‘boo’ came and it was very loud. That was a boo heard around the world last night. I’ll guarantee you.”

Holmes says he booed, too.


The Cruz speech was the low point of the convention for Holmes. His high point? Snapping a photo of a favorite celebrity: Fox News host Megyn Kelly.


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

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