Alaska Republicans unite behind Bush

Posted: Monday, July 31, 2000

PHILADELPHIA -- Juneau delegates say their participation in the Republican National Convention is the fulfillment of months of preparation and work.

``I have been a Bush person from the very beginning,'' said Paulette Simpson of Douglas. ``It feels good to be here to see what I began one and a half or two years ago come to fruition.''

Simpson, who is attending her first GOP convention, said, ``Gov. Bush brings a set of good core values, and Dick Cheney adds a wealth of experience and a national reputation to the ticket.''

Chip Wagoner, a Juneau attorney who serves as Republican National Committee member for Alaska, did not declare a favorite during the primary season, but is pleased with the outcome.

``I kept a very low profile because of my national committee role,'' he said. ``But I am firmly supporting Bush now. I think he's great.''

Wagoner and Simpson served on the rules committee, working on a proposal to increase the size of the Alaska delegation at future conventions. Wagoner played a similar role four years ago at the Republican convention in San Diego.

The Alaska delegates get down to business today, with two convention sessions scheduled to adopt the rules and platform. They also will hear speeches from retired Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Laura Bush, the Texas governor's wife.

The Alaska delegation will have a brief moment of national television exposure tonight as the roll of the states is called. The group will vote solidly for Bush, which party leaders verified at a delegation meeting Sunday.

Twenty-two Alaskans are among the 2,000 delegates attending the convention. There are also about 15 alternates in the Alaska delegation, which is chaired by the Rev. Jerry Prevo of the Anchorage Baptist Temple.

All three members of the Alaska congressional delegation are also attending, including U.S. Rep. Don Young, who usually shuns official party functions. Young said he wanted to participate in the nomination of Bush.

``The Republican National Committee asked me to come and I am honorary chairman of Alaskans for Bush,'' said Young, who last attended a Republican National Convention in 1964.

In addition to his longstanding relationship with George Bush Sr., Young said he has known Cheney since their days together in the House.

``Dick Cheney has forgotten more than Al Gore ever knew,'' Young said.

Delegate Mike Pauley of Eagle River, a legislative aide who spends half the year in Juneau, initially supported Gary Bauer but said he is now a firm Bush supporter.

``We are going to try and put our best face forward and get the message out,'' Pauley said.

Pauley worked on the committee that wrote the Republican platform, which he describes as ``a very good document that focuses on general principles and themes.''

As with past platforms, the Republicans endorse oil development of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Clinton administration has blocked drilling in the area for the past eight years.

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