They’re both registered Republicans, and they both are running to represent a deeply Republican area of the state, District 23 – Chugiak and Eagle River.
But one of the candidates is a member of the Anchorage Assembly, a military veteran, and a first-generation American of Chilean descent.
The other candidate has documented his decades-long struggles with mental illness, identifies with the struggles of the homeless in Anchorage, and has a long criminal record with the Alaska Court System.
Jamie Allard, who is on the Assembly, is the likely candidate to win the seat. She is well-respected in the conservative electorate and has a wide circle of people who have endorsed her, including Mayor Dave Bronson, Kenai Republican Women, Valley Republican Women, Alaska Republican Party, and Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, and District 23 Eagle River Republican Committee. She may be the only House candidate statewide that has been endorsed by all of those entities.
Roger Branson’s criminal recored cites numerous instances of violence, including domestic violence, in his Alaska Court System history:
Branson is open about his mental health challenges and has a web page dedicated to his mental journey, in which he revealed that a few years ago the people of Chugiak were worried that he could become a mass murderer.
“Eight years ago a series of events began unfolding which led to the good people of a couple churches near Chugiak to believe I was capable of becoming a mass murderer with (apparently) their selves as my imminent target,” he wrote on his web site.
Others have concerns about safety around Branson. At a recent Anchorage Chamber of Commerce forum, one of the organizers had to tell Branson to pipe down after a member of the audience from Chugiak-Eagle River had asked Branson questions regarding his lack of alignment with Republican principals. Branson visibly lost his temper, demanded that woman give him her name, which she would not do. A chamber of commerce representative told him to settle down, but he then demanded that the woman leave the room. The chamber — or someone in the building — brought in a security officer because of Branson’s behavior.
It’s unclear if ConocoPhillips will provide similar security during this Thursday’s candidate forum for its employees. Branson and Allard are both invited to give presentations to employees who live in District 23.
This summer, Branson set up his own camp at the homeless camp at Centennial Campground, where he said he provided services to homeless people at the camp. Sources say he had difficulty following the campground rules and that he was very selective about who he helped.
A few years ago Branson was removed from the board of the Chugiak Eagle River Senior Center and trespassed from the property. Branson, although registered as a Republican, always supports the most liberal candidates, and signed the recall petition against Gov. Mike Dunleavy in 2019.
The election is Nov. 8, with early voting starting two weeks prior to Election Day.