Alaska's wild and crazy Republicans are at it again. What began a year ago as a takeover of the Alaska Republican Party by supporters of failed GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, then disintegrated into a battle for the heart of the party between the newcomers and the establishment, now appears on the verge of escalating into a holy war.
Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblyman Lance Roberts, the short-serving chair of the party Rules Committee, this week accused party chairman Peter Goldberg of trying to purge Christians.
"While you may be drunk with power and feel that you can kill all the christians (sic) without repercussions, one day you will have to answer to God for your work against him and the principles of his that our platform is based on," Roberts, the party's District 5 chairman, said in an email sent to Goldberg on Tuesday and copied to almost everyone of note in the ARP.
Roberts was named to the Rules Committee by one-time party chair Debbie Brown from Kasilof shortly before the party's statewide executive committee removed her as incompetent earlier this month. At an attempt at preemptive strike before the executive committee took up the issue of her job performance, Brown fired Frank McQueary as Rules Committee chairman and appointed Roberts to that post.
Roberts said the committee then met by telephone and concluded the complaint against Brown was invalid and should not be heard by the executive committee.
The executive committee itself ignored that ruling, went ahead with the meeting, tossed Brown, and voted in vice-chair Goldberg as the third party leader in three months. Brown, elected as party vice chair at a contentious convention in April 2012, had risen to chairman only after the executive committee in January ousted chairman-elect Russ Millette for his poor job performance.
Millette, in an April interview with Michael Chambers, vice-chair of the Alaska Libertarian Party, confessed to his failure.
"I didn't raise any money," Millette admitted in that interview, but said it wasn't his fault. He got no training, he said, and he wasn't given a database of past donors. He said he did ask people to donate to the Alaska Republican Party, but none of them did so.
"They all said, 'No, not until you become chairman,'" Millette said.
"I personally, out of my pocket, gave money to many candidates ... this time around," he added, but didn't have any money left to give to the party. That claim has not been independently verified.
Given that the main job of the party chairman, a volunteer, is to bring in enough money to keep the party in business, the executive committee tossed Millette and elevated Brown to the chair. By the time she too was judged lacking as a fundraiser, executive committee members said the party was on the verge of closing its Anchorage headquarters for lack of funds to pay the rent.
Goldberg has done almost nothing but try to raise money since he took over, which has angered Roberts and others who still see Brown, or Millette, as the legitimate party chair.
Millette has appealed his removal. The party's state steering committee is to consider his appeal at a meeting in Homer later this month.
The 67-year-old Millette told Chambers that the party infighting has already caused many to abandon the party, especially those aged 18 to 35.
"There was a lot of them at the convention," he said. "They're now not there, and they've left because of what's happened to the man they voted for, which is myself."
"I've had a lot of friends leave the party because of what's happened," he added. "After May 25th, I may join them. It depends on what happens."
May 25 is the day the state steering committee meets at Homer's Lands End Resort.
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com