Some of the biggest names in Alaska politics are expected to attend the sold-out Alaska Republican Party convention that begins today at the Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, current Gov. Mike Dunleavy and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan are among Alaska political leaders that organizers confirmed will attend the downtown event. The state party convention will run through Saturday and includes hundreds of participants, including delegates, activists, lawmakers and GOP candidates running in 2022 races.
“The number of Republicans from across the state registering for this convention has exceeded our expectations,” said Cynthia Henry, Republican National Committee chairwoman and a convention organizer. “I believe that translates to a high level of enthusiasm for this mid-term election cycle and our candidates,” she said.
Sullivan and Dunleavy are keynote speakers, and Palin is expected to participate in a discussion featuring five Republican candidates running for Don Young’s seat in the U.S. House.
Young, who died unexpectedly March 18, had been scheduled to give an address at the convention. Tributes to the late congressman, who served 25 terms in the U.S House, are a backdrop to the weekend convention.
Recognizing Young’s contributions to Alaska and state politics will be a theme throughout the convention, organizers said.
Rep. Brian Mast of Florida, a disabled Purple Heart military veteran, and Ronna McDaniel, who chairs the Republican National Committee, are also speaking at the convention.
Mast is participating at the invitation of Young, who had reached out to Mast several months ago, Henry said. Anne Garland Young, Young’s widow, will introduce Mast.
More than 250 delegates were originally expected to attend the annual convention at the Westmark Hotel and Conference Center, 813 Noble St., which accommodates 400 people. In addition to delegates, there will be legislators, party staff, members and their guests, as well as the media.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has served in the Senate since 2002, will be a notable absence. She was censured by the state Republican Party after she voted to impeach Donald Trump as president over the Jan. 6, 2021, riots in the U.S. Capitol.
The state party is backing newcomer Kelly Tshibaka, who is challenging Murkowski for the Senate seat. Tshibaka will be at the Fairbanks convention.
The state Republican convention is a closed, paid event at the hotel, and the general public is discouraged from trying to attend.
The party platform will be set, and party business will be conducted, including the election of officers, an update of rules and policies, and adoption of resolutions that define the party’s positions.
“We have an impressive lineup of speakers and presenters. I expect attendees to leave the convention with new and pertinent information and enthusiasm for going back to their communities to win elections,” Henry said.