This weekend a robocall saying it was paid for by the Alaska Republican Party encouraged voters who had requested an absentee ballot application for the April 5th municipal election to vote for a host of candidates depending on where they lived. Among those who the Party did not include in their list of endorsed candidates were registered Republican candidates Assemblywoman Amy Demboski and school board candidate David Nees.
The call states:
“When your ballot arrives, vote for Kay Schuster for School Board, Terre Gales for Assembly in East Anchorage, or Adam Trombley for Assembly for Assembly in West Anchorage. If you live in South Anchorage your Assembly candidates are Mark Schimscheimer or Treg Taylor.”
The Alaska GOP’s deliberate exclusion of the Chugiak/Eagle River Assembly race from the robocall effectively means the Party is saying they have no official preference who Republicans vote for between incumbent Demboski and her Republican challenger Nick Begich. That could be seen as adding a lot of credibility to Begich’s campaign.
As a first time candidate and one with a name as synonymous with “Democrat” as you can get in this state, one of Begich’s biggest hurdles is convincing right leaning voters in heavily conservative Chugiak/Eagle River that he is a real Republican. The Alaska GOP signaling they don’t have a preference between the conservative Demboski and Begich would seem to indicate he is Republican enough for the Party.
The call also encourages voters to vote for Kay Schuster in the School Board race even though Republican and longtime conservative activist David Nees is in the race. That race also features left-of-center candidate Starr Marsett.
The inclusion of Schuster and not Nees means the Alaska GOP was not simply advising voters who the Republicans or conservatives were in each race. There was a value judgement made at some level of the Alaska GOP as to who would be included and not included. Demboski and Nees did not make the cut.
What may stick in the craw of Demboski and Nees supporters the most is that the Alaska GOP endorsed Mark Schimscheimer as one of its candidates in South Anchorage. Schimscheimer was a longtime registered Democrat and Obama donor who recently changed his party affiliation to Republican. Demboski on the other hand has easily been one of the most consistently conservative members of the Anchorage Assembly since being elected three years ago and Nees has been a stalwart voice for conservative fiscal and education policies at the local level for many years.
Sources inside the local campaigns tell The Midnight Sun they have been told by Republican Party Chairman Peter Goldberg that the Party would not take sides in any races involving multiple Republican candidates and that he did not approve the robocall scripts. The same source claimed the robocalls were the work of former Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich.
The exclusion of Demboski from the robocall lends greater credibility to widely circulating rumors many in the Republican Party, including Ruedrich, are supporting Begich over Demboski.
You can listen to the call yourself here:
Calls to the Alaska Republican Party seeking comment were not answered.