Alaska Republicans attend party convention

Posted: Monday, July 31, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Alaska delegates to the Republican National Convention say they will be watching out for the state's interests at the gathering in Philadelphia this week.

But they say their main focus will be on supporting the party's ideals and its candidates.

Twenty-two Alaska delegates are attending, along with about 15 alternates. Most of the big decisions will have been made by the time these folks gather with about 2,000 other delegates Monday morning in Philadelphia.

The Republican Party's national platform was finished last week by committees. The only action left for delegates is to approve it. Amendments are unlikely, they say.

Likewise, the nomination of the party's presidential ticket also is a done deal. George W. Bush's candidacy was confirmed March 14 when he secured enough delegates for the nomination.

Even the one major issue that had been brewing -- whether to force big states to hold their primaries after small states -- was effectively quashed by the Bush campaign Friday.

Though the gathering will largely be ceremonial, delegates still see their attendance as an important and worthwhile endeavor.

Dave Eichler, a North Pole dentist, and delegate to the convention said his interest is in ''mostly just communicating with other Republicans around the nation and mapping out our strategy as far as issues and elections.''

''There are all sorts of caucuses to go to. The various interest groups sponsor rallies and receptions,'' Eichler said. Eichler had announced his intent to run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Miller, but has since withdrawn.

Nick Stepovich, the owner of Soapy Smith's restaurant in Fairbanks, said he is going ''for Alaska.'' He wants to promote land access and resource development, the two underpinnings of Alaska's lifestyle and standard of living, he said.

The chairman of the Alaska delegation is the Rev. Jerry Prevo of the Anchorage Baptist Temple.

All three members of Alaska's congressional delegation are also attending the convention. Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski are official delegates from Alaska.

Murkowski announced Friday that his staff had secured language in the Republican national platform advocating oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and sustainable forest management.

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