Big tent team of Republicans include these living examples - Must Read Alaska
Connect with:
Sunday, September 19, 2021
HomePoliticsBig tent team of Republicans include these living examples

Big tent team of Republicans include these living examples

gif ad for must read alaska donations

Darren Deacon, District 38, has been catching and smoking fish all summer along the Kuskokwim River, and a growing fan club on Facebook follows his subsistence and photographic exploits, where he reveals insights about rural life in Kalskag, where he lives with his family, including his adorable son, Rodney, who is learning subsistence skills from his dad.

Marilyn Stewart walks District 21 in the driving rain, warmed by the reception from people who have had enough of crime and are looking for new representation in Anchorage. She has a long list of credible endorsements, including from former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom.

Stanley Wright is on his third pair of shoes in District 16, Anchorage, where he is taking the conservative and crime-fighting message door to door.

Even Ceezar Martinson, the Republican in District 20, is having the experience of a lifetime. He may have a slim chance to win in the left-leaning district that has been represented by Les Gara, but Martinson says that his message of fiscal responsibility is being heard by people who haven’t talked to a Republican in years. And he’s becoming known as a solid policy wonk.

By contrast, the Democrats pictured immediately below have all been endorsed by the “resist” group called March on Alaska, and the Alaska Center for the Environment, which endorsed all Democrats in the 2018 cycle. They are a decidedly white-bread collection of candidates — mostly middle aged white men and women :


Here are some of the diverse Republicans in Alaska who are bringing a crime-fighting, fiscal stewardship message to voters across the state. They are providing people with diverse options in districts that now have non-diverse Democrats as representatives.


Anthony Lekanof, District 18

Anthony Lekanof is running against Democrat Harriet Drummond in Anchorage’s District 18. A student at UAA, he is also a graphic designer.

Lekanof is 21 years old and raised on St. George Island, in the Pribilof Islands.

As an Aleut, he relays how he learned early in life the importance of service, and people taking care of each other “through good times and bad.”

St. George, Alaska

Lekanof attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Lekanof was also an intern for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and served on the Board of the Alaska Association of Student Governments as a Region V Representative. He is a director of the St. George Tanaq Corporation.

“Alaska’s challenges are not linear — they are complex and nuanced. And I’d like to have a shot at solving them for the future of our state,” he writes.

Marcus Sanders

Marcus Sanders decided he was a Republican when he realized his values more closely aligned with those of personal responsibility and the sanctity of life. A deeply spiritual man, he was raised in East Anchorage and is running against hardline Democrat Andy Josephson.

“I’m a husband, a father, an educator, a pastor, and a mentor. I’m proud to say that I have lived in Anchorage my entire life.”

For the past few years, he has worked as the safety, security, and discipline specialist at Wendler Middle School, teaching and mentoring kids — many of whom had a similar upbringing to his. Recently, he completed his bachelor’s degree. His campaign has caught fire in District 17, and on social media, where he has powerful videos that showcase his life story.

“My parents worked hard to provide for me and my brothers and sister, but they still encouraged me to better myself through quality education and community engagement. I was told in school that I’d never amount to anything — that all I’d ever become was a worker at a fast food restaurant. I refused to let that message discourage me,” he said.

As he goes door to door, it’s not uncommon for someone to ask him to just stop a moment and pray for them or one of their family members. That’s the kind of effect he has on people.

“I’m not running for office because I want to become a politician — truthfully, I don’t. I enjoy teaching and mentoring. But I am desperate to help solve the problems in our community — the rising crime, lack of opportunity, and, in many cases, a total lack of quality mentors available to kids. I don’t ever want a child in Midtown to be told what I was told growing up. They deserve better than that.

Marilyn Stewart

Marilyn Stewart walked all of District 21 twice in 2016, and came within 368 votes of unseating Rep. Matt Claman.

Her friends and admirers begged her to step up again. She thought long and hard about it. Campaigning is tough and there are no guarantees.

This time, however, everyone seems to know Stewart and everyone also knows that incumbent Claman is a supporter of Senate Bill 91, the flawed and dangerous judicial bill that has let criminals run wild in Anchorage. He’s been a lackluster legislator who often peels off of work to go river rafting out of state.

Stewart plans to focus on her district — she wants streets safe for law-abiding citizens, not just safety for criminals.

She’s got a great personal story and a smile that lights up a room, so people are interested in hearing from her. Stewart is just about the only Republican in her family.

“Who would have thought an African American with roots in Alabama would one day run for political office in the great State of Alaska? After graduating from Conecuh County High School in 1979, I left Alabama to join the U.S. Army. In 1981 I was stationed at Fort Richardson. My 36 years in Alaska have both humbled me and filled me with gratitude, and for decades I’ve called Alaska home.

“I believe that when you are sincerely grateful, keep your promises, and help others, your life and your community will thrive. The cornerstones of my life are God, Family, and Country. I will work tirelessly to help Alaska build a strong economy, cut our budget to sustainable levels, and ensure that West Anchorage has a strong advocate in Juneau.”

Stanley Wright

Stanley Wright has gone through three pairs of shoes walking District 16 in Anchorage, where ideologue Ivy Spohnholz is the incumbent. He’s a moderate Republican and veteran, and a photographer by trade. This is his first run for office.

“As a young man I have always believed in fighting for what’s right. I joined the US Navy to help defend the rights of my fellow Americans. As a veteran who is no longer able to serve, I decided to further my education at UAA. Over a period of time I realized that being a public servant will forever be a part of who I am and so I have chosen to run for political office.

Darren Deacon

Darren Deacon lives in Upper Kalskag in District 38, where he is Tribal Council President, City Council Member. He’s been a Village Native Corporation board member since 2016 and president of Kalskag nonprofit Search and Rescue. Those who follow him on Facebook know him to have a keen eye for photography and a willingness to share rural Alaska living with the world.

He has the endorsement of Calista Corporation, which chose not to endorse the incumbent Tiffany Zulkosky, who is a bloc-voting Democrat and ally of Mark Begich.

“As a lifelong YK Delta resident I feel that we need representatives in the House who will fight to restore a full PFD — it provides a much needed boost to our local economy — and to defend our subsistence rights and traditions.

“I want to support search and rescue efforts in the region, and the volunteers who go out to bring us and our loved ones home.

“As a Tribal chief, I have learned a lot about tribal sovereignty and support measures on both the state and federal level that will give tribes the power that they deserve. As a Native corporation board member, I have learned the importance of Alaska Native Corporations and the positive work they do for our region, people, and culture,” Deacon said.

Ceezar Martinson

Ceezar Martinson started out a Democrat in college but became a Republican after getting involved in politics. He is a senior at UAA studying political science.

“The PFD belongs to you, not the government. We must have a spending cap in the Constitution to stop deficit spending. Any statewide income tax needs to be voted on by the people.”

Martinson knows the political odds favor Zack Fields, the well-funded, union-backed Democrat who is running to fill Rep. Les Gara’s position, as Gara retires.

But Martinson is gaining value from the experience — he’s meeting people who have never had a policy discussion with a Republican, and he’s telling them what the conservative viewpoint looks like.

And what does a conservative look like in 2018 in Alaska?

It looks like a tall African-American young man knocking on the door to talk with extraordinary expertise about the state budget, and how spending and crime is out of control.

It looks like a Pribilof-born Alaska Native now living in the city, realizing that traditional values are compatible with fiscal responsibility.

And it looks like a man with a moose he’s harvested to feed his family in the coming winter, somewhere along the Kuskokwim River, stepping up to serve his people.

Donations Welcome


Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Very NICE column Suzanne! Love to read about all of our wonderful Republican Candidates and seeing them as real people, NOT your typical politician. Alaska doesn’t need any more polished, smooth-talking, out of touch Politician!

  • I really appreciate you pointing out that the Democrats in this state are all a bunch of old, rich, white elitists who have nothing to offer that hard-working, blue collar men and women of Alaska. It is great to see that the Republican voices being offered to us may well be able to relate much better to the average Alaskan who struggles everyday with inundating bills and soaring crime through their diversity and life struggles. Pat Higgins and Chris Tuck are fat, rich, white men who have never known a day of struggle in their lives and care more about obscure bird species’ welfare than whether an average Alaskan can get a good paying job in a mine or on the slope. They are not one of us and specifically hate the white working class. I think this diverse group of candidates from different races will do a better job relating to the struggles of the average Alaskans than a liberal Barbie doll like Amber Lee will ever be able to in a lifetime.

  • What I like about this piece is it shows conservatives come from all walks of life. They always have. The libs want you to believe and they want the people of color to believe that there is a certain demographic that needs them and their handouts and that it’s the government that must take care of them. The liberal narrative is usually the group doing the “white shaming”. Go get em’!! The conservatives shown here are an example of hard working, responsible people with values and conviction who want to make a difference and are clearly standing against that common narrative and that “box” that the Nancy Pelosi’s and Mark Begich’s of the world try to trap them in. It is so refreshing to see. It is extra refreshing to see the younger men involved in this wicked political process. No fear. Gotta love it.

  • Very well written. I like hearing how young Alaskans are developing their conservative values.

    • Exactly. It is nice to see the ‘younger’ people stepping up and putting themselves out there. I sure didn’t have it in me at that age – or any age. I feel like a mamma – proud as heck of them! Another thing I am noticing this campaign season, is some of the ‘veteran’ politicians are walking side-by-side with some of the newbies. Going through the neighborhood with them. Example being Rep. Tammy Wilson from Fairbanks hitting the pavement down here with write-in candidate Jake Sloan, who is trying to rid District 15 of Gabby LaDoux. This is an awesome show of support. It is this sort of teamwork that the Republicans are going to need – to band together and stay together and bring Alaska back!! We can do this!

  • As a follow up to this excellent article, can you provide links to their campaigns so we can give them donations? I know I can find these for myself online, but publishing them might be more beneficial to the candidates. Thanks a lot for all the reporting you do for the state, Suzanne. Must Read Alaska is always interesting!

  • I grew up in a civil war town in West Virginia. I went to a predominantly all white school and church. I love this article, but more importantly, I love these people. I have had a lot of fun watching them this past year! Praying for all of them.

  • Don’t give a hoot about “diversity”. I’ll vote for “honesty” “honorable” and “conservative”. Man or woman. Ethnicity be damned.

  • MY PEOPLE! You are my people! I would be proud and honored to have anyone of you represent me. Thank you for running for the people of your district, and the people of Alaska. We need more just like you.

%d bloggers like this: