All Her Friends Call Her Alaska


It looks like Ron Paul will get around 20 percent of the Maine vote, and his campaign is confident he'll pass McCain to grab second place in the delegate count there. The campaign's attention turns, naturally, to Alaska. Low turnout, a fractured GOP, a libertarian streak in the state, and a proportional delegate-awarding system: Tailor-made for Paul.

In Alaska, the caucus is in large part a numbers game. Many of the state's 683,000 residents live in hard-to-reach spots outside of the road system. Randy Ruedrich, head of the Republican Party in Alaska and a former libertarian, expects just 5,000 to 7,000 to turn out at the Republican caucuses.

Mr. Paul's campaign goal is aggressive: With 40 districts in Alaska, he wants to persuade 200 people in each district—8,000 people total—to vote for him. Mr. Paul's staffer Mr. Bergman is pushing a tried-and-true approach: Cold-call registered voters to identify supporters and encourage them to vote.

Last month I spoke with some Alaska politicos and former Alaska Rep. Andre Marrou, Ron Paul's 1988 running mate (and the 1992 LP nominee for president, and a current resident of Texas), and all were bearish on Paul's chances. The feeling was that the Alaska caucus/convention system was simply too complicated for Paul's ragged armies to master. Since then, though, we've seen a pretty organized effort in Maine and the exit of Rudy Giuliani, whose supporters had done a little organizing, probably hoping to expand their geographic base beyond Giants/Jets country.