ANCHORAGE — The state Republican party’s central committee has lost several of its members because of their support for Joe Miller, who is running as a Libertarian in his effort to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
The committee voted to remove one of its members last weekend and several other party officers resigned so they can publicly support Miller. The committee doesn’t allow party officers to campaign for candidates from different parties.
Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock said he advised members of the rule after Miller joined the U.S. Senate race last week. He said he suggested to those in support of the Libertarian candidate that “the honorable thing to do is to resign.”
“There are a lot of individuals in the Republican Party and we respect that. But we do have a line,” he told the Alaska Public Radio Network. “You cannot publicly support the non-Republican candidate. That’s a line you can’t cross.”
Four members of the 80-person committee resigned as well as one member of the rules committee.
Shannon Connelly, who was vice president of the Valley Republican Women and chair of the District 11 Republicans, was one of the members who resigned. The Palmer woman said she is against abortion and was never comfortable with Murkowski’s moderate voting record on the issue.
“Then as Joe came into the race, I realized it wasn’t enough. I had a candidate that I did believe in, who is pro-life, which is a major thing for me,” she said. “And I thought I can’t just sit back. I have to stand for what I believe in.”
Babcock said there would be no hostility toward those who chose to leave to support the Libertarian candidate.
“What I told them was: Go with my blessing as the chairman. And if your local district re-elects you or re-appoints you, then you’d be welcome back,” he said.