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Petersburg Republicans miss out on primary vote


Petersburg Republicans couldn’t vote in town last week during the Presidential Preference Poll because no one volunteered to run the caucus.

The Petersburg Pilot fielded multiple calls and received emails asking why Petersburg didn’t have a poll.

Chair of the Alaska Republican Party Peter Goldberg summed it up.

“An effort was made to find people around the state,” Goldberg said. “Some districts had multiple places but there were several communities that had no one. If there is someone to blame, and you’re a Republican, look in the mirror and say ‘what have I done to help today?’”

Alaska Republican Party Communications Director Suzanne Downing said she was disappointed Petersburg didn’t have any volunteers.

“These elections are run by the district,” Downing said. “We (Alaska Republican Party) don’t run them as a central operation. We try to help coordinate and get them going but it’s 100 percent a district activity.”

Petersburg resident Jean Ellis has organized polls in the past but had other obligations the day of the preference poll.

“I called a couple people and asked if they’d do it and they said no so I didn’t keep pushing,” Ellis said. “If pieces of the party, like Petersburg, are not organized we’re not going to have anything happen unfortunately.”

As of February, there are 662 registered Republicans in Petersburg, according to data from the State of Alaska Division of Elections.

In District 35, which includes Petersburg, Wrangell and Sitka, 36 percent of the votes went to Donald Trump and 27 percent went towards Sen. Ted Cruz.

Statewide, Cruz won 36 percent of the votes with Trump tailing close behind with 33 percent of the votes followed by Sen. Marco Rubio with 15 percent.

Candidates who received more than 13 percent of the votes will be granted delegates relative to the votes they received. Out of 28 Alaska Republican delegates, three are free to support any candidate they choose.

Petersburg resident Annette Wooton reached out to the Alaska Democratic Party about running a local caucus.

“They’ve sent me some information,” Wooton said. “Pretty much what we’re going to be doing is calling Sitka. They’ll be running the majority of it and I’ll be helping coordinate and organize things in Petersburg.”

In order to vote in a party caucus, an individual must be registered as a member of that party. Voters will have the option to register as a Democrat at the polls.

The Democratic caucus will be held on March 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Petersburg Indian Association conference room where voters won’t cast a ballot, but will claim support for a candidate. If a chosen candidate doesn’t receive a 15 percent threshold of support within the district, the voter will be asked to realign.

Alaska has 20 Democratic delegates, 16 of whom must conform to the outcome of the caucuses and four who are free to vote for the candidate of their choice at the convention.


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