(KCAW file photo)

Republicans statewide chose Texas senator Ted Cruz as their pick for commander-in-chief during the GOP’s Presidential Preference Poll on Super Tuesday, but Sitkans went against the grain with their favorite conservative candidate.

Downloadable audio.

For many Sitka republicans, businessman-turned-politician Donald Trump is the shot in the arm the Grand Old Party needs.

Here’s Isaac Clark, Rodney Campbell, and Robert Prefontaine:

“He’s a little different; he’s not your typical candidate.”
“His message is pretty loud and he seems to be a pretty solid leader.”
“I think he can stand up to anybody who comes his way.”

But not all republicans favored Trump. Andrew Hames wanted Marco Rubio.

“It’s gotten lot more interesting than I thought it would be. I didn’t think Donald Trump would make it quite this far,” he said. “I’m a little terrified by that.”

Two-hundred-and-one Republicans went to University of Alaska Southeast to pick their preferred presidential candidate for District 35. In 2012, only about 70 people cared to participate in the poll, organizer Lureen Stedman says.

“We’ve been amazed at the number of people coming in especially early there were people waiting as we were setting up,” she said.

Eighteen-year-old Misha Beckeris flexed his political muscles for the first time on Super Tuesday. He registered to vote at the same time he checked off Marco Rubio as his No. 1.

“I think compared to other candidates in terms of my views, he’s one of the less extreme ones,” he said.

Others chose Ben Carson because of his conservative Christian values. Carson suspended his presidential campaign after a poor showing in the nominating contests.

Statewide, Cruz received over 36 percent of the vote, with Trump taking about 34 percent. Rubio took 15 percent. In Sitka, 68 people chose Trump, 55 for Cruz, 44 for Rubio, 22 for Carson and 12 for John Kasich.

In the minority, Kealoha Harmon selected Kasich.

“I’m looking for a candidate who’s going to be positive and move in a positive direction,” she said.

While they didn’t always agree on candidates, those heading to the Republican poll agreed on the particularly nasty mudslinging in this year’s campaigns.

“It’s kind of a mess but it’s democracy,” Clyde Young said.

District 35 includes Sitka, Petersburg, and Craig. About 70 people cast ballots in Craig. There was no polling station in Petersburg.

Alaska will send 28 delegates to the National Republican Convention. Based on the presidential preference poll results, 12 delegates will nominate Cruz, 11 Trump, and five will support Rubio. The delegates are bound by party rules to vote for their assigned candidates.

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