In his recent op-ed entitled “Challenging Trump for the GOP nomination taught me my party is a cult” (published Feb. 10 in the ADN), Joe Walsh argues that because state Republican parties that elected not to hold “primaries” are in thrall to President Trump, he was excluded from the state presidential nominating process. At best, Walsh is a hardly known and very unlikely to win Republican presidential candidate. A serious presidential primary challenger to an incumbent would have learned exactly what goes into each state presidential caucus or presidential preference poll, such as the Alaska Republican Party has organized in the past.
Our party rules provide for the State Central Committee (SCC) to call for a presidential preference poll to allow Alaska Republican voters a chance to cast ballots for a qualified presidential candidate. Among other things, such a candidate must collect the required number of signatures and pay a substantial fee to have his or her name placed on the presidential preference poll ballot. The ultimate purpose of the vote is to allocate Alaska delegates at the national convention to a given presidential candidate. That is how a national party selects its nominee for U.S. president. An internal party process, this is not organized by the government, but held by state parties, and finally, for Republicans, by the Republican National Committee. Further, the requirements governing Alaska’s presidential preference poll process were in place long before we ever heard of Mr. Walsh.
At the time of the SCC meeting in which the presidential preference poll for 2020 was discussed, not one challenger to President Donald Trump, including Mr. Walsh, had advised that anyone was even trying to collect signatures to have his or her name appear on the poll, let alone that he or she was willing to pay the fee required. Also, under our rules, “A Qualified Presidential Candidate must receive a minimum 13% of votes in the statewide Presidential Preference Poll in order to receive any pledged delegates to the National Convention.” If a contender can’t achieve 13% of the presidential preference poll vote, he or she is awarded no national delegates from Alaska, making participation in any presidential preference poll a waste of time and money.
If Mr. Walsh was a serious candidate, he should have organized his campaign such that he let us know he was obtaining signatures and was able to pay the fee. He should also have explained to the SCC how he thought he could obtain 13% of the vote in order to be assigned any national delegates from Alaska. Multiply similar processes for all 50 states plus our territories, and one can see how spectacular Walsh’s campaign failure was.
In sum, Mr. Walsh never contacted the Alaska Republican Party to inquire as to its presidential preference poll process, or for any other reason. Therefore, in the absence of any known feasible candidate, the Alaska Republican Party SCC found it would serve no purpose to use time, treasure and volunteer hours to conduct a 2020 presidential preference poll. As this determination was completely understandable, given these facts, one can also conclude Mr. Walsh is the one who blundered here, not the Alaska Republican Party.
Ann Brown is currently retired. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Alaska Republican Party.
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