It appears a new, post-Randy Ruedrich, day has dawned for the Alaska Republican Party.
The longtime party leader has been the dominant force in the party since first becoming Chairman in June, 2000. Even after relinquishing that role in 2013 many party insiders have observed that he appeared to continue maintaining control of party operations.
With new party leadership recently elected at the state GOP convention, that reign appears to be ebing.
For possible evidence we can look at the recent appointments made by the new Chairman Tuckerman Babcock and Vice-Chair Rick Whitbeck to assorted leadership positions:
Parliamentarian (non-voting) Peter Giessel
State Treasurer Julie Tisdale
State Assistant Treasurer Misty Steed
Legal Counsel (non-voting) Stacey Stone Semmler
State Finance Chair Paulette Simpson
SCC Standing Committees
Campaign Chris Nelson, Chair
Finance Thomas “John” Nelson, Chair
Targeting Senator Mia Costello, Chair
Legislative Elijah Verhagen, Chair
Communications Frank McQueary, Chair
Rules Elyce Santerre, Chair
Notice anyone missing? No mention of the usually omnipresent Randalph A. Ruedrich.
Ruedrich’s absence from the party actually goes deeper.
Yesterday Chairman Babcock confirmed that Ruedrich now holds no position at all on the State Central Committee (SCC). That’s the first time in 20 years that has been true.
Since leaving his position as Chairman, Ruedrich had maintained a presence on the SCC by virtue of an appointment as the party’s Deputy Treasurer.
What may actually be even more indicative of Ruedrich’s reduced role in the party isn’t just his physical absence from SCC roles, but that such sweeping new appointments were able to be made at all.
During the recent state GOP convention, delegates changed one obscure rule Ruedrich had been using to maintain control of the party. It stated those occupying the Party’s appointed positions, many of whom sit on the SCC by virtue of those appointments, stayed in those roles until the chairman appointed their replacements and the SCC approved.
That meant Ruedrich’s appointees stayed in power until his other appointees and loyalists on the SCC approved their replacements. This allowed Ruedrich to effectively maintain control of the party’s governing body even after relinquishing the Chairmanship.
The rule now gives the current chairman the right to remove appointees from their positions at his discretion. The rule change guarantees such appointees reflect the current leadership’s priorities, rather than those from a past administration.
In sit down conversations with both Chairman Babcock and Vice-Chair Whitbeck, both before and after the convention, they gave the impression that while they don’t see Ruedrich’s tenure in the same harsh light that many of his critics do — neither used the terms “crony”, “corrupt”, or the equally terrible “Lisa Murkowski” once — none the less they felt the time had come for new leadership and a diminished role for Ruedrich.
With the party rules now changed and new appointments made, it would appear that has now happened.
From discussions with several party insiders, it appears Ruedrich’s reduced role is of his own choosing rather than a forced departure at the hands of opposition. That opposition inside the party is no stronger than it ever has been and calls for Ruedrich’s ouster were far less prevalent in this year’s state convention than they have been in the past.
Don’t rejoice too much Ruedrich-haters, just because he has less influence doesn’t mean he has none, and just because he isn’t as heavily involved in the party, doesn’t meant you won’t see him on the campaign battlefield.
I would suspect his name will pop up connected to a few well funded Political Action Committees sometime soon.