The Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland this morning and Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan has won a spot on the schedule. His spokesman says Sullivan will take the stage tomorrow evening, with nine other Republican senators.
As for the main business of the convention – nominating Donald Trump for president – state party chairman Tuckerman Babcock says the Alaska delegates are coming around.
“There were a lot of different people supporting a lot of different candidates, some of them really strongly, and it’s been hard for them to give up the ghost,” Babcock said. “But the reality is, it’s going to be Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And if you’re a Republican, that’s your team.”
A move to stop Trump fizzled in the convention rules committee late last week. Alaska delegate Kristie Babcock, Tuckerman’s wife, said over the weekend she could sense a change in the mood.
“There’s almost like a little bit of relief that it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be a big fight this week,” she said. “People just seem to be just gaining enthusiasm. Maybe especially because of what’s happening in the world, they just seem like, ‘Ok, let’s go toward winning now.’”
Trump finished second in Alaska’s Republican straw poll in March. Mike Tauriainen, a delegate from Sterling, says Trump wasn’t his first choice. Or his second. Tauriainen says he’s not sure of Trump’s bedrock positions on social matters, like abortion and transgender bathroom use.
“Yeah, I have some reservation about that. I’m very strong on conservative issues.” he said.
But Tauriainen says he likes Trump’s pick for vice president, Mike Pence, and he believes Trump can be a good president by listening to his advisors.
“I probably won’t have a Trump sign in my yard (but) I’ll be a supporter,” he said.
At the convention, the Alaska delegates probably won’t have any big decisions to make. State party rules bind them to their assigned candidates for two rounds of voting, and Trump will likely have the nomination before they become unbound.