ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Republican Party failed Saturday to reconvene its convention after a rift between outgoing chairman Randy Ruedrich and supporters of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul resulted in a quorum shortage.
Ruedrich had been urging the party faithful to stay away from Saturday’s convention amid fears that Paul supporters would try to grab more delegates than Paul earned for the national convention. Paul has stopped actively campaigning for president
A crowd gathered for the convention at an Anchorage church, but only 192 Republicans were counted, far short of the quorum needed to do business. Ruedrich said 275 Republicans were needed for a quorum, while Paul supporters said 241 were needed to continue the convention, which would have allowed participants to vote on convention resolutions.
Barring a change in the rules, Ruedrich, the party chair since 2000, will remain in that role until early next year, after elections that could determine whether the state Senate returns to Republican control.
Ruedrich left an angry, shouting crowd after announcing results of the April convention leadership election, including incoming chair Russ Millette, a supporter of Paul. But the shouting began earlier, as Ruedrich spoke to the waiting crowd and urged Republicans running for state office to walk around and collect campaign funds.
He also noted that some Republicans went fishing rather than show up, and others were attending functions elsewhere.
“They were told not to come here!” a woman yelled from the back of the room. “Speak the truth here!”
After Ruedrich left, people milled around and vented their frustrations. They met later Saturday at another church to resolve issues — such as updating the party platform and a faster transition to new leadership — that they said were unsettled when the April convention abruptly ended.
Paul supporter Evan Cutler said advisory votes made at the later meeting would be non-binding, but they will be submitted to the Alaska GOP’s state central committee to do with them as it wants.
Many who showed up Saturday traveled to Anchorage from across the state, spending money on plane tickets and other travel costs, Cutler said. Like others, he denounced Ruedrich’s strategy of telling people outright not to come.
“That’s a gross violation of his duties as a chair,” Cutler said, adding he believes the old leadership is desperately trying to hold on to power it doesn’t deserve anymore.
Paul Dawson was among a group of Paul supporters who traveled to Anchorage from the southeast Alaska town of Craig for both the April convention and for Saturday’s gathering.
“It’s a crying shame that the original convention we spent all our money to come here and it was cut off like it was,” Dawson said. “So we come back with more money, and no show.”
In an interview later, Ruedrich said the only issue remaining was to announce the election results of the new leadership, and he did that. He said everyone had ample time to get everything done at the April convention, but it was stymied by the purposely slowing tactics of Paul supporters.
As far as Ruedrich is concerned, Paul supporters in the Alaska Republican Party have adopted a national agenda to grab control.
“The Ron Paul state convention agenda is to extend the meetings and encourage opposing delegates to leave the floor so they can control the process,” Ruedrich said.
Ruedrich said the state central committee will consider convention committee resolutions at its next meeting.
Among the resolutions to be reviewed, is one calling for censure of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Convention co-chair Bruce Schulte said the proposed action was submitted by supporters of former U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller. Murkowski mounted a write-in campaign in 2010 to retain her seat after losing the GOP primary to Miller.