Local Republicans prepare for Super Tuesday, poll vote

Peninsula Republicans will gather Tuesday in hopes clarifying just which candidate will be the nominee to challenge President Barack Obama in the country’s November general election.

Regional Republican coordinator Dale Bagley said the Alaska-wide presidential preference poll will be hosted from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, in a variety of locations on the Peninsula, including Nikiski, Sterling, Seward, Kasilof, Anchor Point and Homer. Kenai and Soldotna will have a unified location at Grace Brethren Church. 

“If they want to pick who the Republican nominee is going to be to challenge President Obama, this is their opportunity to come out and vote,” Bagley said.

He advised interested Republicans to attend whichever location is closest to them.

“It won’t be like when you vote in a primary with all the precinct places, it is just volunteers who are organizing this,” he said. “It is not being run through the clerk’s office or anything, which is the way it has always been.”

Bagley said Peninsula volunteers will call in local results to the state office on Tuesday shortly after the polls close at 8 p.m.

On March 10, local Republicans will reassemble for the district convention and pick the residents who will be sent to the state convention on April 26, 27 and 28 in Anchorage. Representatives will then be picked to go to the national convention.

Districts 33 and 34 — which will be numbered 28 and 29 after the new districts are set — will combine for the district convention at 8 a.m. at Grace Brethren Church on March 10. Bagley said he expects the convention to last until 4 p.m. The assembly will also put forth resolutions to take to the state convention.

“We going to try to use the voting (on Tuesday) to promote it so that maybe we can have a little better attendance than normal,” Bagley said.

Residents need to be a registered Republican to vote Tuesday, but can register on the spot if they are undeclared, independent, Democrat or any other party. Residents interested in volunteering to help with the caucus can call Bagley at 398-1865.

March 6 is the day commonly known across the country as Super Tuesday when 10 states host either a primary or a caucus.

Randy Ruedrich, state chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, said the state’s activities differ from traditional primaries, caucuses or straw polls.

“The preference poll actually binds 24 of our delegates who go to (the Republican National Convention) in Tampa in terms of who they are going to be voting for,” Ruedrich said. “So if a candidate wins 33 percent of the preference poll, they get eight delegates in Tampa. That’s why you want to go vote in a preference poll because it means something. A straw poll is a beauty pageant. This is real and it has an impact in Tampa in August.”

According the Associated Press, Mitt Romney took the Alaska caucus in 2008 with 43.7 percent of the vote. Mike Huckabee came in second with 21.9 percent and Ron Paul took third with 17.2 percent of the vote. John McCain took only 15.6 percent of the vote.

Bagley said he expects Paul, a Texas Congressman, to take Alaska.

Currently, Paul leads all Republicans in the state’s fundraising with $96,261, according to the most recent numbers available from the Federal Election Commission. Romney has collected $54,110 in Alaska.

In zip codes starting with 996 — all of the Kenai Peninsula as well as Kodiak, and the west side of Cook Inlet and much of the Matanuska-Susitna area — Paul leads the Republican field with $24,924 in campaign contributions. In the same area Romney has raised $2,425.

Total Alaska fundraising among Republicans totaled $226,536 outpacing Obama’s $159,447.

As of Thursday, Romney had 167 delegates to Rick Santorum’s 87, Newt Gingrich’s 32 and Paul’s 19. There are still 2,286 delegates at stake — 419 up for grabs Tuesday. It takes 1,144 delegates to nab the nomination.

Local Democrats will caucus at 9:30 a.m. on April 14 at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai. Organizer Sharon Waisanen said the group will vote for a candidate — likely Obama — elect delegates to attend the Alaska State Democratic Convention in early May in Fairbanks, nominate candidates for officer positions and debate and vote on resolutions and changes to the party’s platform. 

Any voter who is a registered Democrat can participate in the caucuses. Other voters can also change their registration until the day of their district caucus to be eligible to participate, Waisanen said. Voter registration forms will be available at each caucus location.

“The 2012 Democratic Presidential District Caucuses aren’t about political ritual or simply re-nominating the President, it’s about Alaskans coming together to commit ourselves and our country to a path that creates more opportunity,” said Patti Higgins, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, in a press release. “Success depends on involvement at the grassroots and we invite everyone to take part.”

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