Alaskan Independence Party focuses on Legislature seats after Fairbanks convention

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John Wayne Howe, seen here at the Alaskan Independence Party’s 2020 convention, has been elected as the party’s chair. (Courtesy James Brooks/cc-by-2.0)

The Alaskan Independence Party held its statewide convention last weekend in Fairbanks for the first time since 2008. A new board of directors wants to focus on getting party members to run for state offices.

The AIP holds a convention every two years. John Wayne Howe was elected Saturday as chair of the party, which boasts 19,000 members in Alaska.

In an interview, Howe mingled the names of Alaska’s two main political parties, implicitly critiquing similarities between their platforms.

“We are the third largest. We are the largest one outside of the Democrats and the — Demlicans and Republicrats,” Howe said.

Howe was one of the first Alaskans to register in the party when it was formed in the 1970s. He has run for U.S. House and Senate seats and for governor under the AIP banner.

“The big thing that we are working for — we want to get candidates on the party,” he said. “And if anyone listening wants to run under the Alaskan Independence Party, the only party born in the state of Alaska.”

Bert Williams was just elected as party secretary. He said the party is looking at state legislative races.

“We don’t really have any interest in more federal positions such as Senate or House of Representatives or the presidential election,” Williams said. “And when the party was founded, Joe Vogler, he was very adamant for the party to be focused on the state.”

Vogler founded the party after he didn’t like the way Alaska’s statehood commission prepared the territory to join the U.S. in 1959. The AIP charter says its members would like to have had a vote on other options. In 1973, Vogler started serious advocacy for Alaska to secede, although Howe said the AIP’s platform does not explicitly call for it.

“And it is possible that we could achieve a level of independence and still be connected with the U.S.,” Howe said. “Which Joe was not against, being connected with the U.S.; he just didn’t want the oppression the way that it is currently set up.”

At the state convention, the party reinvigorated its platform, and Howe said members passed some new planks.

“There’s one that I like real well: ‘Independence for every individual Alaskan is our goal and must be executed by all peaceful and lawful means,’” Howe said.

The new board also thanked former chair Bob Bird, saying he organized party affairs after the unexpected death of the previous chair, Lynette Clark, who took over from Vogler.

In addition to recruiting candidates for office, another focus for the party now is communication. Members hope to launch a new website sometime this week.

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