Alaska Republicans to choose new state party chair in 4-way race

The Alaska Republican Party will elect a new chairperson during its convention on Friday and Saturday, in a race that includes four candidates and no incumbent.

Current chair Ann Brown announced earlier this year she would step away from the volunteer position, which she has held since 2021.

The candidates are Jerry Ward, Mike Robbins, Nikki Rose and Carmela Warfield.

The elected chair will lead a state party that has more than 140,000 registered members. Those voting in the election will include only a few hundred attendees at the state convention, which will be held at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage on Friday and Saturday, at a cost of $375 per person to participate.

The state convention is also where party members determine their platform and select delegates for the national Republican convention later this year.

Mike Robbins, 62, is the current vice chair of the Alaska GOP, and executive director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority. He ran unsuccessfully to serve as Anchorage mayor in 2021, touting his record as a businessman. His opponents at the time pointed to a history of debt and lawsuits targeting his businesses. Robbins has been endorsed by two former Republican lieutenant governors — Craig Campbell and Mead Treadwell.

Nikki Rose, 40, previously worked as a legislative aide to Republican Sen. Roger Holland, and previously served on the Sand Lake Community Council. She ran unsuccessfully for an Anchorage Assembly seat in 2018. In a promotional video, she said she would seek to unify Alaskans under principles of “small, limited government,” “family values,” and resource development.


Carmela Warfield, 49, is the president of the Hillside Community Council, an Alaska GOP region chair, and the former chief executive of the Alaska Policy Forum, a conservative advocacy group. She was endorsed by prominent members of the GOP, including the Mat-Su Republican Women’s Club, and Anchorage Republican Women’s Club President Judy Eledge.

Jerry Ward, 75, is a former state legislator. An Alaska Native and Vietnam War Navy veteran, Ward served in the state House between 1983 and 1985, and in the state Senate between 1996 and 2000. He was under federal investigation for corruption over a decade ago, but never charged. Ward ran former President Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns in Alaska, and worked on former Gov. Sarah Palin’s unsuccessful congressional campaign.

The Republican Party has in the past been instrumental in selecting Republican candidates for governor, the state Legislature, and U.S. Congress, through closed partisan primaries. But a switch to nonpartisan primaries in 2022 has changed the role of the party. Under former voting rules, only registered Republicans and nonpartisan voters could vote in the Republican primary races; now, in all but presidential primaries, all voters receive the same ballot and the top four vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

The party could still have a significant impact through fundraising and endorsements. But several elected Republicans who were censured by the Alaska GOP, including U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, have succeeded at the ballot box despite the party’s support for more conservative opponents.

The winner in this weekend’s election will replace Brown, a Fairbanks attorney. Brown replaced Glenn Clary, who resigned in 2021 to take a job at Liberty University in Virginia. Before Clary, the chair of the party was Tuckerman Babcock, who resigned the role in 2016 to become Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s chief of staff.

Ward was the only candidate who responded to interview requests from the Daily News. He said that if elected, he would seek to align the party with the national GOP, work to secure Trump’s victory in the 2024 presidential election, and actively support the effort to repeal ranked choice voting. Ward said among the two Republicans running for U.S. House — businessman Nick Begich and Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom — he supports Begich. Begich and Dahlstrom are seeking to replace Democratic incumbent Rep. Mary Peltola.

Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The AP and Report for America and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at isamuels@adn.com.