The 2008 Convention of the Republican Party of Alaska begins this Thursday, at Anchorage's Captain Cook Hotel. At the convention, the GOP will attempt to tackle issues that have dogged them since a few months after their 2006 Convention.
They'll also have to sort out some of the details of dealing with the Super Tuesday voter preference polling results:
Mitt Romney - 5,988 Votes, 44% and 12 Delegates
Mike Huckabee - 2,996 Votes, 22% and 6 Delegates
Ron Paul - 2,363 Votes, 17% and 5 Delegates
John McCain - 2,132 Votes, 15% and 3 Delegates
At the helm of the Alaska GOP is their party's Chairman, the man honored with the biggest fine in the history of the all-but-toothless Alaska Public Offices Commission. Reudrich's record 2004 $12,000 punishment for abuse of his office while a member of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, would have ended the man's role in party politics in most states. But not this one. Not in an environment where some of the sitting GOP State legislators in the audience and serving on party committees, have their own five-figure badges of distinction to flout - the contributions they received from the criminal enterprise cutout and money laundering operation for big oil, Veco, during Veco's last days:
Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak $14,275
Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines $8,650
Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage $18,650
Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage $45,200
Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski $ 32,000
Rep. Kevin Myer, R-Anchorage $ 23,350
Sen. Leslie McGuire, R-Anchorage $17,500
Rep. Ralph Samuels, R-Anchorage $10,250
Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage $21,350
Sen. Lyda Green, R-Matanuska-Susitna $18,000
Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole $8,500
Anyone who is unfamiliar with how slippery and slimy Randy Ruedrich is, can be brought up to speed by one of the best pieces of investigative journalism in Alaska in recent years, Richard Mauer's September 19, 2004 Anchorage Daily News feature, Palin Explains Her Actions in Ruedrich Case. I read it when it came out, and re-read it for the first time in almost four years, just this morning. I'd suggest that even people up to speed on Ruedrich's borderline criminality and almost total ineffectiveness, can learn a lot from a re-read.
Besides the background on Ruedrich's chronic abuse of office then, it clearly shows that Sarah Palin, from the start of her role in the Murkowski administration, was intentionally put on the Commission to give her an opportunity to get just as dirty, just as sleazy, just as indebted to big oil as were the boys in the administration. Going through Mauer's carefully laid out narrative, I'm impressed with how Palin handled the trap, using it instead, as the launching point of a reform movement.
Ruedrich claimed in an interview last week with the ADN's Sean Cockerham, that he's determined to fill out the remaining two years of the four-year term he was elected to in early 2006, vowing, “I have a commitment to Alaska Republicans to lead the party to victory in 2008 as I did in 2006.”
Joe Miller, the Fairbanks area GOP Party Chair has been very busy organizing the 268 votes he'll need to suspend the rules at the upcoming convention, allowing for a reconsideration of Ruedrich's ongoing term of office.
Palmer's Jim Turner, who is the ex-chair for District 13, is a longtime Mat-Su Valley Republican activist. Speaking to Jim this morning, he expressed doubts about whether or not he will even be attending the convention. I asked him what his take is on Ruedrich and his continued presence as party chair. Turner says that it will be hard to find somebody to take the job who "would work as hard as Randy. He's worked tirelessly in the job. I can't think of anyone who could fill in, who would work that damn hard."
Supposedly, some of Ron Paul's supporters are trying to organize a big push for their candidate when the issue of how the Alaska delegation will proceed toward the national convention comes to the floor.
And who knows what new corruption developments this week might dog the local narrative over the next four days?
Update - just before midnight, Monday: Spoke with many off-the-record Republicans today. Joe Miller and I have been playing phone tag since late morning.
The prevailing opinion among the folks with whom I spoke is that Joe doesn't have 200 votes to suspend the rules, let alone 270. All agree that Ruedrich is well organized for a coup he's been expecting, and is skilled in using the party rules to his advantage.