Republicans move to block bipartisan coalition reps from 2018 primaries

The Alaska Republican Party voted to block access to its primaries using the same legal ruling that the Alaska Democratic Party is using to expand its primaries.

According to reports by KTUU and KTVA, the Republican’s central committee voted to block Republican representatives who’ve caucused with Democrats from entering the 2018 Republican primaries. That would be Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Paul Seaton and Louise Stutes, who’ve all faced enormous backlash for forming a coalition with Democrats.

“We looked at that legal decision and said, ‘Well, fine: if it’s good for the Democrats, the Republicans can do that too,” Alaska Republican Party Chair Tuckerman Babcock told KTVA.

The Alaska Democratic Party sued the state this year to open up its primaries to independents–a move that could allow Gov. Bill Walker to run in the Democratic primary, remaking the head-to-head race we saw in 2014. The state opposed the issue, saying that the law requiring a candidate’s party registration to match the primary they’re running in preserved the integrity of the race and wasn’t an undue burden on the candidate. A Superior Court judge disagreed with the state, finding that a party should have wide latitude to associate with the candidates of its choice.

The ruling, however, focused more on opening primaries up, not closing them to certain candidates. That difference could give LeDoux, Seaton or Stutes a legal foothold should they decide to bring a legal challenge to the Republican party’s actions. At least for now, the decision to block the three will go to the Alaska Division of Elections to decide.

Though the Republican party has been critical of the Alaska Democratic Party’s lawsuit to open its primaries to independents, Babcock told KTUU that the Republican party is now considering joining the Democratic Party to support the ruling at the Alaska Supreme Court.

The state is seeking an expedited review of the Alaska Democratic Party lawsuit, which has been granted. Oral arguments are set for March 20, 2018. The state’s first legal briefing on the issue is due Dec. 15.

The Alaska Republican Party’s central committee also voted to endorse Rebecca Logan for Anchorage Mayor, likely a move to discourage other conservative candidates from challenging Ethan Berkowitz in next year’s races.

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