First, the basics:
Every position in the Alaska Republican Party is held by a volunteer. This includes the volunteer who gives you your ballot on Election Day all the way up to the State Chairman of the Party, who serves on the Republican National Committee and votes with other State Chairmen every two years to elect the National Chairman of the Republican Party.
Between the Election Worker and the State Chairman there are a variety of different positions. But the list of “voting members of the party” who actually make decisions that determine the direction of the party is much more simple. The four local officials that decide party policy are:
1) Your Precinct Leader,
2) The elected members of your local District Committee,
3) Your State Delegates,
4) The two elected members from your district who serve on the State Central Committee.
If you are wondering how many different elections you need to participate in in order to put good candidates into each of these positions, the answer is simple, just one election. Every one of these positions is elected at your local district convention that will be taking place sometime between Feb 11th and Mar 15th of this year. Every officeholder is elected to a two year term beginning immediately upon election. Let’s look at each position in turn.
1) Your Precinct Leader
Your Precinct Leader is the lowest-level party official in the nation. As explained elsewhere, it is so low that most people do not even know the position exists. However, your Precinct Leader is a “voting member of the party” and cannot be ignored. By volunteering to fill vacant Precinct Leader positions in Nevada over the past few months, Nevada Tea Parties were able to take control of every significant position of party leadership in the Nevada Republican Party, including electing a new Nevada State Chairman. [Read about this in the New York Times].
While the responsibilities of a Precinct Leader vary from state to state, there are some key responsibilities that are common in most every state. Here in Alaska the Precinct Leader has two key duties:
a) He automatically serves as a voting member of the District Board of Directors (known as the District Committee). In fact, the Precinct Leaders, when taken together outnumber all other members of the board combined and can determine every Party policy at the District level. Remember, there are only two levels in Alaska, the State and the District. Essentially, all non-statewide policies and decisions are made by the District Board of Directors, a majority of which is controlled by the local Precinct Leaders.
b) To illustrate the significance of the lowly Precinct Leader another way, let us return to an event that took place a couple of months ago. When a seat in the State Legislature becomes vacant due to a death or resignation (as happened recently in the State Senate), the Governor looks to the Party District Committee (and the Precinct Leaders who form the majority of that committee) to prepare a list of three candidates from which the Governor will choose a replacement [See Alaska Daily News Article].
Precinct Leaders may fly under the radar screen, and, like other party officials, they may not get paid for what they do, but they still have an important role to play in the direction of the party and of our state government.
2) Your Other Elected District Committee Members
Your Republican District Committee includes your two State legislators (if they are Republican of course) and each of the other district officers elected or appointed at your District Convention. Together, these officers serve as the Board of Directors for all District activities and exercise complete control over all party events, policies and funding of candidates at the district level. Under their leadership, the party will either be active or inactive, and conservative candidates will either receive support or not.
3) Your State Delegates
Based on the number of Republican voters in your district, you will elect somewhere between 5-15 Delegates to the State Convention. Only those who attend your District Convention (either via teleconference or in person) may be elected as State Delegates.
For the period of the convention, the state delegates are the highest Republican officials in the state. They set party policy, are able to completely rewrite the rules and bylaws of the party, and will elect each of the state party officers. In 2010 every single State Party Officer will be up for election and will be elected to a 4-year term.
4) The two elected members from your district who serve on the State Central Committee
Lastly, you have the two single most important positions elected at your District Convention: Your two members on the State Central Committee. The Central Committee serves as the Board of Governors of the State Party whenever the State Convention is not in session. And since conventions are only held once every two years they run the Party 99% of the time. Your District Chairman automatically serves as a voting member of the State Central Committee. So does your District “Bonus Vote” (if the legislator in your House District is a Republican).
And there you have it. You now know more about the Party and how it works than many of the people who actually run the party!