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Politics

Trump campaign unveils Alaska backers, including Treadwell, McGuire

  • Author: Nathaniel Herz
  • Updated: September 30, 2016
  • Published May 16, 2016

Donald Trump's presidential campaign unveiled its long list of Alaska honorary campaign chairs Monday, boasting an array of high-profile supporters who span the state's conservative political spectrum.

The campaign's chairman is Jim Crawford, a longtime party activist and commercial real estate broker whose mortgage company was closed by a federal bankruptcy court in 2001.

Its public relations contact is Tom Anderson, the former state representative who received a five-year prison sentence in 2007 on money-laundering, bribery and conspiracy charges related to a scheme to help a private prison company seeking a state contract.

Among the campaign's two dozen co-chairs are many longtime establishment figures and government insiders, continuing a national trend since Trump, who ran as an outsider, became the presumptive Republican presidential candidate.

Among them: Sen. Lesil McGuire, the Anchorage Republican who has served in the Alaska Legislature since her first election in 2000 and is one of the founders of the Alaska Women's Summit and also is Anderson's ex-wife; Rep. Mike Chenault, the longest serving House speaker and a Republican from the Kenai Peninsula community of Nikiski who also was first elected in 2000; Anchorage Assemblywoman Amy Demboski; and long-term Republican Jerry Prevo, pastor at Anchorage Baptist Temple. The list also includes conservative talk show host Glenn Biegel and Gabrielle Rubenstein, daughter of Alaska Dispatch News publisher Alice Rogoff and her husband, David Rubenstein.

A policy advisory committee includes Mead Treadwell, the former lieutenant governor; state Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole; former Anchorage mayor Rick Mystrom; and Dan Fauske, the former head of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. and the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.

While some of the campaign supporters didn't initially back Trump in the GOP primary, Crawford said in a prepared statement that members see "solidarity and a cohesive Republican unification as the most prudent means to successfully achieve a Republican presidency."

Treadwell, who left office in 2014, said his membership on the committee didn't constitute an endorsement of Trump. But, he added: "Right now, he's the presumptive Republican nominee and I've said I'll support the nominee."

Treadwell said he wants to "educate" Trump about Alaska issues. As for the Republican front-runner's occasionally sexist and anti-immigrant rhetoric, Treadwell said: "During the general election process, I think we have to work with what we've got."

"I'm going to use whatever stock I've got as a Republican to try to help get more power brought back to the states," he added.

Demboski said she originally supported Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, but now "we have two choices."

"It's going to be Donald Trump or it's going to be Hillary Clinton," she said. "I look at it like, who is really going to be the best person to defend the country?"

Fauske, the former housing and gas line executive, said he was approached by the state's Trump organization and would help develop its platform on energy and housing, given his personal experience.

Fauske said he's registered as an independent but would vote for Trump over Clinton, who's opposed drilling for oil in the Arctic — though he said he'd lend his energy expertise to the Clinton campaign if asked.

"Absolutely, if I thought I could persuade her to see the light," Fauske said. "I wish she would ask — maybe I could have some influence."

McGuire, Prevo, Coghill and another member of the policy advisory committee, former Alaska Senate President Drue Pearce, didn't respond to messages asking for comment.

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