Alaska Republicans 'shocked' to see all delegates counted for Trump

Published: Jul. 19, 2016 at 6:34 PM AKDT
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The chairman of the Alaska Republican Party and other state delegates at the Republican National Convention (RNC) say they were shocked to see all of the Last Frontier's delegates awarded to Donald Trump.

Disagreement over that decision momentarily brought the convention to a halt, with a speech from House Speaker Paul Ryan formalizing Trump's victory delayed for more than 15 minutes.

While Trump easily clinched the GOP presidential nomination at the convention on Tuesday, in March, he lost the Alaska GOP presidential preference poll with 33.5 percent of the vote.

36.4 percent of Alaska Republicans voted for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also had enough support, 15.1 percent, to earn delegates.

Given the split and the state party's rules, Alaska GOP chair Tuckerman Babcock motioned for Cruz to be awarded 12 of Alaska's delegates, Trump 11, and Rubio five.

However, the secretary instead recorded all 28 delegates going in favor of Trump.

“That was a shocker,” Babcock told KTUU late Tuesday afternoon. “I’m not happy with the way the RNC applied the rules.”

Disagreement hinges on what should happen when a candidate drops out after the state convention but before the national convention -- and whether or not Cruz and Rubio really dropped out.

Alaska party rules state that allocation of delegates should be recalculated if a candidate drops out, and RNC chairman Reince Priebus said party attorneys interpret that as meaning the support should go to Trump.

However, Cruz and Rubio did not formally drop out and instead only suspended their campaigns.

The way one Alaska delegate sees it, " they decided to, basically, disenfranchise us," said William Treadwell. "There's an RNC lawyer sitting right next to us still saying, 'It doesn't matter.' But it does matter. Alaskans have traveled thousands of miles to have our votes counted."

When asked if he would vote for Trump, Treadwell would not say yes or no but did predict the GOP nominee will "carry Alaska handily."

The last Democratic presidential nominee to win Alaska's three electoral votes was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

Still, former state lawmaker Dave Donley said the RNC “refused to accept our Cruz and Rubio votes.”

“They totally ambushed us,” Donley said.

At the end of the day, Babcock said he’s happy to support Trump’s bid for the White House. None of the Alaska delegates want to see former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton elected, he said.

Meanwhile, several of Alaska's delegates to the RNC are defending Melania Trump amid criticism that two passages from her convention speech bore a striking similarity to a 2008 speech from Michelle Obama.

Former state Rep. Peggy Wilson dismissed the kerfuffle as naysayers desperately looking for something they can say against Trump's wife. Wilson said Melania Trump struck her as classy and intelligent.

Babcock said Trump's description of her parents, her upbringing and becoming an American citizen are all impressive. He said she focused on hard work and working for one's opportunities, while he said the Obamas focus on handouts and relying on government for opportunity.

Babcock suggested that if it was a speechwriter who used such similar language, that person should accept responsibility.