Demboski: A pragmatic way to build a winning GOP ticket for governor - Must Read Alaska
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Demboski: A pragmatic way to build a winning GOP ticket for governor

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By AMY DEMBOSKI
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

This year, I am thinking about the general election, not the primary, because if we lose in November, the effort to oust Gov. Bill Walker will have been futile.

I never tell people how to vote, but I do give candid analysis, even when friends are running for office.

I’ve been asked to give my opinion on the lieutenant governor’s race. Be forewarned, many are not going to like it. But these comments reflect inescapable facts and I am not pushing for one candidate over another.

FOR WHOM SHOULD I VOTE?

In the lieutenant governor’s race, it depends on what you are looking for. I personally am looking at who makes the Dunleavy ticket the strongest and who can help him win. (Full disclosure: I donated cash to candidate Edie Grunwald.)

Here is my candid analylsis: If you want to go with the furthest to the right of the credible candidates you would pick Edie Grunwald. But, if you want to go with the strongest ticket for November you would pick Kevin Meyer.

It really is a math problem, not a personality issue.

Here is my breakdown: I absolutely love Edie, but like it or not if she wins the primary, the National Guard scandal will be back in the headlines, and her being fired by Parnell will damage the ticket. How much, we cannot know at this point.

Kevin Meyer will turn off the hard-core right because he voted for SB91 and SB26. He has since said he regrets his vote on SB91 and does support protecting the Permanent Fund dividend, and he has been a solid conservative on most issues over the years.

Now, if you can set that aside for one minute, look at the election math.

We have lost the last three major races in Anchorage (two mayoral races and governor.)

Why? A big part is because South Anchorage didn’t vote Republican.

How do you combat that? You put a person they have elected for 20 years on the ticket. That person is Kevin Meyer.

Dunleavy will bring the base, Eagle River, and the MatSu, and Meyer will bring Anchorage and the moderates. The math simply favors that combination.

Now, another argument some have made is that you cannot have a 100 percent Mat-Su Valley ticket (Dunleavy and Grunwald are both from the Mat-Su) because it is too hard right and the rest of the state won’t support it. Remember, the candidates have to pull Fairbanks, parts of rural Alaska and Southeast to win.

So, at the end of the day, if we pick the ideologically pure ticket and lose, does it help anyone? Is this an Alaskan political myth? I don’t know, but it seems plausible.

The question everyone has to ask themselves is what do you want more? Dunleavy to win? Or the perfect ticket out of the Primary? Personally, I want the winning ticket. Only time will tell what that turns out to be.

To be fair, this goes both ways.

If Mead Treadwell wins, he would need to be paired with either Grunwald or Lynn Gattis to pull the Mat-Su and base his way. It is all about the pairing. I don’t think Mead will win against Dunleavy.

Is it possible you could pair Dunleavy with anyone and win? Sure, possibly. But it depends on your level of comfort.

I must be totally candid here: People have already been sending me audio clips with less than glowing reviews about my friend Edie from people who worked with her in the National Guard. It is going to be a blood bath, either way, but my heart will be sad if she has to go through those negative attacks. Is she tough? Absolutely; she can handle it. But those attacks will come in the General Election. It’ll be a humdinger of an election.

I find myself asking: What do I dislike more on Nov. 7 — saying Gov. Walker, Gov. Begich, or Lt. Gov. Meyer?

That’s an easy one: I will take Meyer over those other two any day of the week. I can absolutely live with a Lt. Gov. Grunwald too.

This is simply campaign strategy analysis. It’s one of the many things I am paid to do and it’s only meant to objectively, without emotion, lay out the many dynamics at play.

This race comes down to what your level of comfort is, what is most important to you, and what level of risk are you are willing to accept. Can your perfect candidate (regardless of who they are) win in the general? That is the real question.

I’m not telling you who to vote for. I have simply laid out the political math, landscape, and factors that you might consider when trying to decide on the ticket you believe could defeat Bill Walker.

Remember to vote in person on Aug. 21, or early voting has already started. Vote early by Monday and be sure to participate in this critical election.

Amy Demboski is an Anchorage Assembly member from Eagle River and the host of the Amy Demboski Show.

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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

  • Well said Amy.

  • Thanks Amy for an introspective analysis. I differ with you on the Edie Grunwald reservations. The ship of using the National Guard has sailed. Attacking Edie on that front will most likely backfire. Will it be tried? probably, but coming from a Walker Mallot campaign it will look more like a insult to women in military service. I tend to believe the strong ticket would be Dunleavy-Grunwald. Both share the PFD, crime and economic positions that will benefit all Alaskans. Mead entered late and ran soft, Meyer is way too far left, maybe even in the Seaton/Stutes.Ledaux class of politician.

    A big question is whether Walker or Begich drops out. Both in and both lose.
    Just an opinion.

  • Great analysis. As much as I dislike voting for a career politician, and worry about voting for a “rookie” politician, your points about South Anchorage, Mat-Su et al make sense.

    Edie, this may have been an over reach for you this go around. But, if you reach for the stars, you’ll still end up in a good place. 2020 will be an opportunity to serve again.

    • John, Curious, If you dislike voting for a career politician, why would you? Edie Grunwald is indeed new to the political front, but brings needed management and organizational skills to the Lt. Governors office. Meyers will be an albatross around the neck of Dunleavy and give Walker a perfect “see no reason for change” mantra. In conclusion, rather than call Edie “a rookie politician” How about ‘A seasoned leader”?

  • You raise many interesting points Amy. There’s no perfect ticket. I agree voters need to be strategic and keep their eye on the big picture.

  • I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. Sometimes it’s good to vote your conscience results be damned. We need what is good for our state and what is good for our government right now. I will be voting against Walker and Begich.

    • Might agree if we were talking Top of Ticket. But realistically, the only thing that matters about Lt Gov is the constituency it brings to the overall ticket. They have very little influence on policy except DoE and any of the LtG candidates would do fine there.

  • I am voting for Sharon Jackson for Lieutenant Governor.

  • I must say, all the points mentioned above could possibly make sense but narrow at best. In my opinion we are underestimating ALL of our options. With a Lt Governor Sharon Jackson matched up with either choice we make for Governor will be a wrench in the spokes of Begich and Walker. Think about it!

  • Amen Sharon Jackson! You are the absolute perfect complement to the Dunleavy ticket. Smart (check), Conservative (check), Female (check), Veteran (check), Qualified (check). I think Ms. Demboski overlooked something here. Yes, before someone trolls in here wondering why being a female matters….. I think it would be a nice balance and brings another perspective.

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