There was recently a letter sent to the Delta Wind which attempted to portray the District 9 Republican party endorsement vote of George Rauscher as some kind of effort by the current district chair (Carol Carmen) and Rep. Rauscher to steal the upcoming primary election. This is far from the truth.
As a former District 9 chair, I will attempt to briefly explain the purpose of the District 9 Republican party and process that was followed.
The District 9 Republican party committee is composed of Republican members of the district that stretches from the communities of Delta Junction, Glennallen, Valdez, Whittier, Glacier View, Sutton, parts of Palmer, and all between. This committee is not appointed or elected by the state Republican party but instead is a grassroots organization in its nature. Every two years, the officers are elected during a district convention, selected by district Republicans who attend. Dates, times, and locations of these conventions are publicly posted. One of the major issues that this committee faces is getting enough people involved. Currently, the committee is composed of over 20 individuals from all regions of the district.
The primary purposes of the district committee are to promote and support Republican candidates to get elected in the district and state by facilitating voter registration, leading “get out the vote” outreach efforts, distributing campaign and party literature, promoting the party, and addressing voter concerns. Contrary to what the previous letter stated, this committee’s purpose is not to necessarily represent the constituents of the district – that is the job and purpose of the state representative (George Rauscher) and state senator (Mike Shower) along with the LIO (legislative information office) staff. While constituents’ concerns are always taken into consideration, this committee is not a government organization; rather, it is a private organization governed by state party rules and parliamentarian procedures.
Why a pre-primary endorsement? Here’s why: There are no laws or regulations that allow the Republican party to say which candidates can use their brand to the voters. Anyone within our district can register to run as a Republican (even if they may be a Democrat, Socialist, Green, etc., as long as their voter registration states they are a Republican). If the Republican brand is used by a candidate, should not the district party have any say? A voter should have the right to know those who are posing as something that they may not be. Even so, endorsing a candidate does not disqualify anyone else from running as a Republican. Ultimately, this committee vote does not infringe in any way on how a voter casts their ballot when they have their say in the primary on August 21.
Now, to answer some of the questions and concerns from the previous letter:
The vote to endorse Rep. Rauscher was conducted in accordance to party and parliamentarian rules. It was determined to conduct the vote by ballot to protect the privacy of the committee members and maintain the integrity of the voting system. At any time, any member of the committee had the right to object to the way the vote was conducted. No objections were noted. Many private organizations use this method of voting; in fact, the same method was used to conduct the vote for the former vice chair (author of the previous letter).
Those candidates who sought the pre-primary endorsement were given an opportunity to speak to the committee prior to the vote. Other than that, they were not allowed to be part of the voting process and did not vote themselves (Rep. Rauscher and Sen. Shower recused themselves). Therefore, the premise of the previous letter is fully lacking any knowledge of how the vote was conducted. Rauscher has nothing to hide because he was not involved with the vote.
Since District 9 is a large district, the most expedient way to conduct business is by conference call. Votes were taken by email sent to the district secretary and chair for accountability purposes. At no time is a vote tally calculated by the district chair only. Attacks on the current chair (Carol Carman) are unfounded. The endorsement vote tally has since been released (due to requests from Pam Goode and George Rauscher). Among the various votes, the vote tally demonstrated that the district committee chose to endorse Rauscher by 77 percent of the members.
The author tries to make the argument that Rauscher was forced to sit in the minority and did nothing as a result. If any of you know George, you will know that while he is willing to work with the majority on common ground issues (and did a great job at that), he would be personally opposed to sit with a Democrat majority whose intent was to raid the PFD, create taxes, and strip liberties. Even while sitting with the minority, he accomplished a lot that others could not. Let’s work to make certain that he can sit with a majority after the next election that stands for something different than the current majority.
The author attempted to make an argument that an endorsement vote threatens to not let the voters have a say. I would argue different: this is providing voters with more information before they go to vote. Voters look at endorsements as a way to know what candidates may stand for. Endorsements happen all the time by organizations. If a candidate is endorsed by the NRA, Alaska Outdoor Council, Planned Parenthood, Alaska Right to Life, NEA, unions, etc., a voter will generally have an idea where a candidate stands on an issue.
Bottom line: On August 21, voters will go to the polls to vote in the primary elections. This is the vote that counts. Please get out and vote and don’t pay attention to the hyperbole.
Rick Stillie, Jr lives in Delta Junction and has previously served two terms as Republican Party District 9 chair. He is currently an officer on the District 9 committee.