For years, there’s been conflict between the Alaska Republican Party’s establishment wing and its more hard-line faction of Ron Paul supporters. Those tensions bubbled to the surface on Friday when the party’s U.S. Senate candidates took the stage at the state convention. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports from Juneau.
Up until the very end, the Republican Senate candidate forum was a mostly a kumbaya-type affair. The candidates avoided personal attacks, and they stuck to their message of beating Democratic incumbent Mark Begich.
Dan Sullivan, a former attorney general and natural resources commissioner, sprinkled the word “unite” throughout his speech. He hammered that point when the moderator asked if he would support the party’s nominee even if he lost the primary.
“We need to unite,” Sullivan told the audience. “What I’ve been trying to do for the last six months is unite all Republicans.”
Mead Treadwell, the sitting lieutenant governor, also promised to support the nominee, if Republican voters don’t choose him.
“We as a party need to stick together,” said Treadwell.
But then the moderator got to Joe Miller.
“I think that when we make such a commitment, it takes a baseline of trust. Both of my opponents who are sitting here today supported Lisa Murkowski in her war on the Republican nominee in 2010,” said Miller. “Without that baseline of trust, I cannot make such a commitment.”
Miller won the party’s Senate primary back in 2010, defeating Murkowski in an upset.
While Murkowski had initially said she was going to support the party’s choice, she ended up launching a write-in campaign and beating Miller in the general.
Sullivan and Treadwell are seen as representing the party establishment in the current Senate race. Neither one publicly endorsed a Senate contender in 2010.
After the forum, Miller reiterated that he did not feel comfortable promising to support Sullivan or Treadwell.
“We’re unwilling to unilaterally disarm and make a pledge when they supported who looked the Alaskan people in the eye and lied to them about what she was doing,” Miller told reporters. “That really questions, in my mind, how trustworthy they are as well. So, we’re unwilling to make sure a pledge.”
In April, Politico magazine published a piece by University of Alaska Anchorage Professor Forrest Nabors suggesting that Miller could run as an independent candidate should he lose the Republican primary.
Miller responded with a piece on Thursday saying that he had no intention of running as anything but a Republican.
The Alaska Senate race is one of the mostly closely watched races in the country. It is considered a toss-up, with polls showing voters split between the Democratic and Republican candidates.