ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Republican Party is set to block three lawmakers from running in next year's Republican primary. A spokesperson for the party says the lawmakers are considered to have "abandoned the team" by caucusing with Democrats.
Tuckerman Babcock, Chair of the Alaska Republican Party, explains the three lawmakers in question are Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Paul Seaton and Louise Stutes. He says they were elected as Republicans but later joined the Democrats to form a majority in the State House.
The legal process used by the Republican Party to prevent the three Representatives from running in its primary is the same one the Alaska Democratic Party is trying to use to allow Gov. Bill Walker to run as an Independent in the Democratic primary.
Judge Philip Pallenberg, a Superior Court judge, determined that it was legal for Alaskan political parties to nominate independents for their tickets without them becoming members of the party.
Babcock explained that the three Representatives were brought to the Central Committee to plead their cases. The Central Committee listened to them but 90 percent of members voted to deny them support from the Republican Party, said Babcock.
"Under the existing rules we could respond by voting to deny them all financial aid and all access to our database and authorize the party to recruit new candidates to honestly represent the Republican Party ticket," said Babcock.
On Saturday, Babcock brought the information about the Alaska Democrats' lawsuit to the Central Committee and proposed blocking access to the Republican Party's primary. Babcock says that proposal received unanimous support.
"Our action says, "do what you want to do but don't expect to run as a Republican,"" said Babcock.
He says this is a constitutional issue about freedom of association and political parties have had a long held ability to control who votes in their primaries. "It's a logical extension that the party can have some say who can present themselves as qualified candidate for that party."
However, the Alaska Republican Party, like the Alaska Democratic Party, could have difficulties deciding who will run in their primaries. In November, the State announced it was appealing Judge Pallenberg's ruling in the Alaska Supreme Court.
At the time, Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said, “We don’t agree with the superior court that the party membership requirement in state statute places an unconstitutional burden on political parties."
Babcock says the Alaska Republican Party would consider joining the Alaska Democratic Party in a defense of Judge Pallenberg's decision in an amicus brief or "just accept the lay of the land as it develops." The Alaska Republican Party has currently not made a decision to join any lawsuit.
Babcock says the Alaska Republican Party would also consider appealing to a Federal court if the Alaska Supreme Court rules against them.
Channel 2 reached out to Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Paul Seaton and Louise Stutes for comment, they did not immediately respond.