JUNEAU — Alaska Republicans on Saturday approved changes in how future party leaders are selected and adopted a platform that officials considered clearer and more concise, ending a state convention that was downright muted compared with two years ago.
The consistent theme of the three-day convention was unity, with many in the party eager to move on from the divisive 2010 U.S. Senate race and the upheaval in party leadership that followed the 2012 convention.
Ron Paul supporters turned out in force for the 2012 convention, electing like-minded individuals to leadership posts only to have those members removed from those positions later. Saturday’s elections went relatively smoothly with some discussion about why the current vice-chair, David Eichler — one of several candidates for the post — was not recommended by the nomination committee as a finalist this time. Party activists ultimately elected Frank McQueary to take over that job next year.
Peter Goldberg, who took over as chairman last year, was kept on in that role.
He said there was an enthusiasm among attendees, particularly surrounding efforts by Republicans to reclaim the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Mark Begich.
The Anchorage Daily News reported this week that many Paul supporters planned to skip this year’s convention and some planned to join an alternative Republican group.
Among the rules changes adopted Saturday for future elections was requiring those selected for top party positions, including chair, vice-chair and national committeeman and national committeewoman, to have been registered Republicans for at least four years immediately preceding their election.
Activists also voted on a platform and debated issues like the party’s stance on a ballot initiative that would legalize recreational use of marijuana for those 21 and older.
Bruce Schulte, the party’s communications chair, spoke against a resolution opposing the initiative. He said a drug subculture already exists and the initiative would allow for the taxation and regulation of marijuana. He said opposition to the measure was ill-conceived from a strategic standpoint as well. The initiative is scheduled to appear on the November ballot, along with the race for U.S. Senate, which Republicans want badly to win.
Lance Roberts said it’s important for the party to take a stand against drugs and to draw a line between what it considers to be right and wrong.
The resolution opposing the initiative passed.