By Rick Smeriglio for SCN — On Super Tuesday, registered Republicans from the Moose Pass, Bear Creek, and Seward precincts of District 29 voted in the 2016 Alaska Republican presidential preference poll. Of the five candidates on the paper ballot, Donald Trump received 38 percent of 151 total votes cast, followed closely by Ted Cruz with 34 percent. Marco Rubio and Ben Carson trailed with 14 percent and 11 percent respectively. John Kasich polled three percent.
As they finished casting their ballots, SCN asked random voters their reasons for voting as they did. A sampling of their on-the-record remarks appears below.
Mike Trudeau of Moose Pass said, “I elected to vote for Ted Cruz because of his knowledge of the Constitution of the United States. I believe that he is the one candidate who will actually govern by the Constitution. It has worked for us for a couple hundred years and I think we need to get back to it … That’s why my man is Cruz.”
Dawn Campbell of Moose Pass said, “I tried to go by good old fashion values and what I was taught by my parents and my grandparents and which candidate best fit what I was taught as a girl.”
Erik Ronneberg of Seward said, “The first choice I had back in the fall was Carson. I read some of his books and I was inspired by that. And then we had the various ISIS attacks and he didn’t look ready to deal with national security … We go to an Indian church, I’m the only white American there … So I’d be praying there and I would close my eyes and see Ted Cruz … I don’t see Trump as a man who fears God. I see him as someone who is just a big balloon, a man who keeps swelling up, swelling up and eventually he is going to pop … He [Cruz] campaigned on this in Nevada … turn federal government land back to the states … the more land and more resources that the state has, I think that’s better for the state of Alaska … I’m waiting for Trump to self destruct … he will cross that line and then there will be judgment … There is not an answer in a man … One more thing about Cruz, he follows the Constitution.”
Chaplain Joseph Pridgen said, “I voted for Ben Carson … I believe that he reflects the kind of values that I hold very dear, not only for religious reasons … As a Christian, I think that it’s our responsibility to vote for Christian leadership … I also think that he has the capabilities, the intelligence, of all the candidates … to lead this country in the way that we need it to go.”
Scott Johnson said, “I voted for Marco Rubio. I voted for him because his convictions are similar to mine. He holds to a conservative fiscal policy. He’s strong on the Constitution, also moral convictions similar to mine. I think he’s electable too.”
Chris Fry said, “I voted for Ted Cruz. I think I’d still like him to be still in it. It looks like Trump is going to stomp all across today, on Super Tuesday. Ted Cruz will get Texas and I’m hoping he will pick up enough to stay in it … I don’t think he [Cruz] has a chance nationally, so I figured I would just vote my conscience.
Larry Bryant said, “I voted for Donald Trump. I don’t always agree with everything. He’s the front-runner right now and I think he might end up being the party’s choice … It doesn‘t look good for any of the rest of them right now … The guy I really liked, Ben Carson.”
At the polling place in Seward, ballots went into one of two cardboard boxes under the watch of three, volunteer poll workers. To ensure integrity of the process, a voter had to sign in. The voter’s name had to appear on a Republican database of registered voters checked on-line by a poll worker. A voter could change party affiliation at the polling place by filling out a form. A good many did so. Each voter’s name received a tag to prevent repeated voting. A worker hand counted the ballots in the box while another watched and yet another filmed the process. Results went to party headquarters via telephone with signed paperwork as a follow-up.
Although he could not fully explain the low turnout (less than 15 percent of registered Republicans), poll worker Ken Carpenter said, “We put an announcement in the news. We asked for banners, but they only sent poster boards.”
Nationally, a candidate needs 1237 delegates to win the 2016 Republican nomination on the first round of balloting at the GOP convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18. The candidates had 28 delegates at stake in Alaska. Statewide, the results flipped the local Trump and Cruz percentages. The state Republican Party proportions out delegates rather than giving the winner all of them. Cruz put 12 of the available 28 in his column. Trump got 11 and Rubio got five. Carson and Kasich got no delegates because, according to state GOP rules, a candidate needs to receive at least 13 percent of the vote to get any at all.
According to Alaska Republican Party communications director Suzanne Downing, all of Alaska’s delegates go to the national convention bound to vote for a particular candidate in the first round of balloting. If no candidate wins on the first round, and the delegate’s candidate receives the fewest number of votes, then the delegate has leave to vote for another candidate.
To get on the Republican presidential preference poll ballot in Alaska, a registered Republican must pay the state party $2,500 and secure the signatures of 50 registered Republicans, no more than 10 of which may come from any one district.
Local Democrats will have their caucus on Saturday, March 26 in the Seward library.