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By ZACHARY HALASCHAK
Daily News Staff Writer
The Alaska GOP held its biennial convention in Anchorage this past weekend.
The event brought together delegates from all over the state, including Ketchikan resident Trevor Shaw, who was elected assistant state secretary for the party.
Shaw told the Daily News that he wasn't initially considering the role, but was approached by the chair and co-chair of the state party who asked if he was interested in the party's number four position.
Shaw, 22, said that his election shows a changing GOP more focused on being a “big tent” party where people of all different backgrounds can fit in.
“Diversity in the party, … was sort of the focus of the convention,” Shaw said. “So as a young millennial conservative I was like, 'Yeah, sure, I'll put in for it.'”
Shaw said that during the convention there was a panel called “Why am I a Republican?” that focused on bringing more diversity to the party. He said that the push was exciting for him and he is happy to be a part of it.
“It's really exciting, and I think it does kind of draw attention to the fact that we are a big tent and very diverse party, and there's a lot of support for kind of training up and bringing up the next generation of leaders,” Shaw said. “That was a big conversation of the convention.”
Shaw has been involved with Republican politics locally since he turned 18, serving as both the chair and vice-chair for the district in his four years with the group.
“I've been told I'm probably the youngest person elected to any of the six different leadership positions that the convention votes on,” Shaw said.
Shaw said that he looks forward to reaching out to younger conservatives on a statewide level.
“It's just really exciting to be kind of the ambassador to my generation of Republicans,” Shaw said.
The convention, which took place Thursday through Saturday, was also a forum for the gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates to speak and outline their policy positions to the state party.
There was a straw poll conducted where delegates were asked to vote either YES or NO on whether each of the candidates should receive support from the state Republican Party leading into the primaries.
Anchorage businessman Scott Hawkins — who launched his campaign in Ketchikan last year — came out on top with 181 YES votes and 56 NO votes.
Hawkins virtually tied with former Sen. Michael Dunleavy of Wasilla who garnered 173 YES votes and 52 NO votes.
Hawkins told the Daily News in a Monday phone call that he was very excited about the results and hoped that it would give him more name recognition on the state level.
“This weekend was a great momentum builder for me, a real game changer,” Hawkins said.
He went on to say that having the opportunity to speak at the convention allowed some who didn't know much about him before to learn about who he is as a candidate.
“That's the big breakthrough here,” Hawkins said, “is that the Republican Party faithful sat down and heard all of our messages and after they had a chance to hear those messages and ponder them, they came out very strongly in support of me.
“And so I think that is a very good sign for where this campaign is headed,” Hawkins added.
Sen. Kevin Meyer of Anchorage — who won the straw poll for lieutenant governor — told the Daily News Monday that he was very pleased with the convention and the trajectory of his campaign.
Meyer took in 178 YES votes and 50 NO votes. He was trailed by former Rep. Lynn Gattis, who received 161 YES votes and 71 NO votes.
“I think it shows we've got positive momentum,” Meyer explained. “And that's encouraging to me now because once we get out of session and I can spend full time on the campaign we won't be starting at a hole, we'll be starting at a pretty good point and hopefully can just continue to build from there.”
Meyer also touched on the push for a more inclusive, diverse and younger Republican Party.
“I saw more young people and people of different race and color than I ever have at a Republican convention,” Meyer said, “and it's encouraging that our future is in good hands.”
“I felt really good about the future of the party after that convention,” Meyer added.
The primary elections for governor will take place on Aug. 21, and the general election will be held on Nov. 6.