Gathered around a long table at Kava’s Pancake House in Muldoon on Monday, some 30 supporters of candidate Jake Sloan ordered pancakes and omelets, drank coffee, and made plans for taking the district back from a rogue legislator who broke faith with her voters.
Sloan greeted visitors, answered questions, listened to neighbors talk about crime, and took “selfies” with the people who came. He gave away all the yard signs he brought with him.
It was all by the playbook for most campaigns, with one exception — this is a write in campaign, with rubber wristbands and all.
Sloan is a rising star in the most unusual bootstrap campaign in the 2018 Alaska legislative races, taking on the powerful chair of the Rules Committee, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux.
LeDoux is now the subject of an investigation, after she hired a man from California who brought in over 100 absentee votes, many of which were found to be fraudulent.
During the primary election, several applications for absentee ballots were received by the Division of Elections, and those applicants were known to be deceased.
Now, the man hired by LeDoux is dead.
Charlie Chang, the California Democrat who LeDoux paid to bring in the absentee ballots, died of a stroke he suffered in Fresno, while LeDoux was in California after the primary election. With the prime witness dead, it’s difficult to determine if LeDoux will face indictment for voter fraud.
Sloan could not be more different from LeDoux. He has a background as varied as his district.
His formative years were spent in Nepal with his missionary parents, and then in Talkeetna, where he finished high school, running river boats, and working for K2 Aviation. He worked as a church pastor for many years.
He also brought someone from California to campaign for him — but he married her years ago. Leigh Sloan, and their three young children, are by his side during this campaign.
Residents of District 15 for the last five years, the Sloan’s are motivated by concern for crime and the taking of the Permanent Fund dividend from those who can least afford it, like many of their neighbors in District 15.
Sloan spent years involved in church outreach work, but now runs his own contracting company and has a YouTube presence on a channel where he reviews drones and drone technology. He has over 3,600 followers on YouTube:
Sloan has already reached out and made in-roads where it may surprise LeDoux the most, with the highly respected Hmong community that LeDoux dishonored with her voting shenanigans.
He has been knocking on doors every night and reports that 75 percent of the people he talks to tell him they want someone besides LeDoux — “someone they can trust to actually work for the district,” Sloan said. So far, he’s covered one quarter of the district on foot.
Sloan has also raised a good base of funds to run a legitimate campaign effort.
Driving through District 15, it’s apparent that Sloan is making headway with the voters. His signs are starting to pop up and are already roughly equal to the number posted by LeDoux.
“I have people asking me to post signs on each corner of their property,” he said. “I’ve had people come out of their homes while I’m walking down the street and ask me, ‘Are you the one who’s running against LeDoux?'” And more than once, he’s seen a LeDoux sign in someone’s trash can.
The other aspect of campaigning that has surprised Sloan, who is new to the process, is the number of people who have volunteered to walk the district with him and who are ready to volunteer in other ways.
He’s had so many offers for help that he now has a volunteer coordinator, Katelynn Toth, a college intern who is helping him get the message out, and get the volunteers engaged. There are just 41 days left on the calendar before Election Day.