Politics 2012: Alaska part of the Super Tuesday family

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International  |  March 4, 2012 at 4:45 AM
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While Alaska may not be front and center on Super Tuesday, state Republicans say the state's delegates could be important later in a still volatile scramble to name the party's presidential nominee.

The 27 delegates available in Alaska's Republican Party caucuses are part of the 437 delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday, nearly 40 percent of the total needed to win the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.

The Alaska Republican Party said on its Web site 1,400 Alaska Republicans voted in the 2008 caucuses and hoped this year's caucuses would "set a new record."

Most of the delegates in Alaska will be awarded proportionally.

Alaska, home to 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, was mentioned during the last debate in Mesa, Ariz., when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney commented on Santorum's vote to back the notorious "bridge to nowhere" for Ketchikan, Alaska, which wasn't built.

"While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the bridge to nowhere," Romney said to Santorum.

While all four top-of-the-ticket Republicans are on the ballot, only U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was scheduled to be physically in Alaska before the caucuses.

"It is basically set in stone that he will be here," Alaska campaign worker Andrew Sharp told the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.

Political analysts say Paul's libertarian politics are a good fit for the state and could possibly result in a strong finish.

Romney's son, Josh, visited Alaska recently while Santorum has made radio appearances. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich conducted a telephone town hall on energy and natural resource development.

Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich said it's hard to tell how Republicans are leaning among Romney, Santorum and Paul, the News Miner said.

"Will it be a three-way race or largely a two-way race?" he asked. "It depends on what the campaigns can do with their resources and time."

"There's a high level of uncertainty and a modest level of surprise," he said.

Alaska will divide 24 of its 27 delegates proportionately based on Tuesday's vote. The other three delegates are members of the Republican National Committee. The caucuses will be followed by district conventions, where party members will select district delegates to attend the state convention in April.

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