Alaska Republicans in battle for control of party

rmauer@adn.comJanuary 16, 2013 

— A battle for control of the Alaska Republican Party between the party's establishment and the Tea Party-affiliated new guard is due to play out Thursday evening at Republican headquarters in Anchorage.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen tomorrow," said Russ Millette, the incoming party chairman.

Millette, incoming vice chairwoman Debra Holle Brown and two other party officials are facing internal party complaints filed by outgoing chairman Randy Ruedrich and the chairman of the party's rules committee, Frank McQueary. If both are ousted, it could lead to a new election for the party's top leaders.

Millette and Brown were elected at the party convention in April when Ron Paul supporters and other non-establishment party members, many recently affiliated as Republicans, showed up in large numbers. Millette was allied with Joe Miller, the Tea Party backed U.S. Senate candidate who beat Lisa Murkowski in the 2010 primary but lost to Murkowski in her historic write-in victory in the general election.

Ruedrich continued to run the party through the November election and is due to leave office Feb. 1. He's said he wants to retire.

The proceedings, before the party's executive committee, are scheduled to take place starting at 5:30 p.m. at the bungalow housing the party's headquarters at 1001 West Fireweed Lane. With both sides inviting their supporters and an ample media contingent expected, it's unclear how everyone will fit into the building. And while Millette said he wants reporters allowed into the hearing even though he could claim a right to privacy, it's still possible the proceedings will be closed. It's possible that a decision won't be reached Thursday.

"For once in my life, the press is my friend," Millette said in an interview Wednesday.

Millette said he plans to fight the charges and wants to assume the post he won in an open vote.

"I won, fair and square, by their rules," he said. "Yes, I want it -- I want to bring honesty, truth and transparency to the party."

Though Millette has been serving as Finance chair in the run-up to his full chairmanship, he said incumbent party officials have refused to give him the party's financial records.

"I've never been part of the club, and I'm never going to be," Millette said.

Ruedrich did not return messages left on his phones.

Reach Richard Mauer at rmauer@adn.com or 257-4345.

 

 

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