Gov. Dunleavy, like Jay Hammond before him, is a rural Alaskan who rolls up sleeves and pitches in to help


Gov. Mike Dunleavy may be the only governor of any state who has been photographed not once but twice pushing disabled vehicles to get them out of trouble. All during a day’s work as governor.

The first was a photo taken by a passing Wasilla driver in June of 2019, when Dunleavy was in his first few months of office. Already, the urban attack team from the former Walker Administration was crawling all over him with accusations and petitions to remove Dunleavy via an ultimately failed recall effort. Dunleavy, helping an Alaskan he had never met, was busy doing what he does; while driving himself to work from his Wasilla homestead, he approached an intersection where a car was stalled, and the car was obviously going no further. Dunleavy, dressed in suit and tie, hopped out of his own car and singlehandedly pushed the disabled car to safety, before heading to meetings in Anchorage.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy pushes a car out of the intersection in Wasilla in June of 2019.

Fast forward to Oct. 4, 2022, when Dunleavy was visiting the rural village of Elim, along Norton Sound, which had been hit hard by an historic fall storm, a Category 1 remnant from Typhoon Merbok. The beach sand was soggy and soft, but the road was blocked by repair trucks and earth movers, and so Mayor Paul Nagurak decided to take the beach route. Riding in a truck following Dunleavy and Nagurak were Commissioner of Transportation Ryan Anderson, Commissioner of Military and Veterans Affairs Torrence Saxe, and Director of  Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Bryan Fischer.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy with Elim Mayor Paul Naguruk, and Commissioner of DOT Ryan Anderson.

Once the lead truck got stuck, Dunleavy and the commissioners hopped out and helped rock the vehicle out of the hole its wheel was digging, while Mayor Nagurak pulsed the accelerator.

Dunleavy, who lived for 20 years above the Arctic Circle — teaching children, running schools, raising his own Native children, hunting, fishing, and keeping his house warm in the most brutal weather on earth — seems happiest in rural Alaska, even if it means pushing a truck out of the deep sand less than a year after having had shoulder surgery. His idea of taking a break is to go hunting in rural Alaska, and donate the game to a community nearby.

Roadwork was being done, blocking access, which is why the state officials took the beach route.

Dunleavy’s lived experience in rural Alaska hasn’t been seen in the Governor’s Office since former Gov. Jay Hammond, who built a log cabin on the north shore of Lake Clark and was known as Alaska’s “Bush Rat” governor. It may be that Dunleavy is the state’s second Bush Rat Governor — a frontier leader who has, in the weeks since the storms hit the coast, traveled to villages numerous times, helping people without any media around, including offering practical advice for village and town residents with specific problems that needed a creative fix.

The iconic photo of the governor pushing a truck out of the sand is one that Alaskans from a certain era can identify with — it was just another day in rural Alaska, where people roll up their sleeves and got the work done without fanfare.

What the people of the state may also see is a guy who genuinely is at home in rural Alaska in a way that no other governor has been since Hammond was term-limited out of office in 1983.


  1. “lived experience”

    Are you going to tell me your truth next? Or is that a problematic question?

    “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.” Orwell, Politics and the English Language

    As far as the good governor, he seems like a decent man. I would rather have an effective governor that displayed leadership and was at the forefront of creating positive change instead of having others be in the front rank. Where is his leadership on protecting children from adult fetish- from the locker room to the library? Where is his leadership in crafting law to protect the unborn? Where is his leadership in casting aside the train wreck of ranked voting that is so open to corruption?

    • Your cowardice was on full display, Mike, at last night’s sparsely-attended fundraiser. You showed me extreme disrespect when you pawned my reasonable and relevant question off on a vacuous “groupie” standing nearby who was in no position to speak for you. The Alaska Trooper you posted at the entrance of the event, and who surely observed your speedy retreat, must have wondered what was up with you. Could you have moved any faster?

      Now I know why you fail to attend candidate’s forums: hard questions frighten you.

  2. Governor Mike Dunleavy is a beast of a man, who will come to the assistance of his fellow Alaskans on a moments notice. Bill Walker could care less about individual Alaskans and would rather assist the government and himself. If Walker doesn’t get his way, he runs off to Hawaii and pounds sand.

  3. Wasilla homestead? Suzanne, you’re a cheechako. Wasilla is not Lake Clark and Dunleavy is no Jay Hammond.

    • I guess I wasn’t clear, Jim. Dunleavy has a Wasilla homestead. As in a home on a large piece of property. Lake Clark is at Lake Clark and is where Jay and Bella lived back when I knew them in 1969, but maybe that was before your time. – sd

        • Jim, it’s hard hard to imagine how you are capable of such succinct utterances after only being in the country for 40 years! Yes, Mike Dunleavy is no Jay Hammond! Mike is quite a bit taller then Jay ever was and much younger. They do have some similarities however. Both are good Husbands to their indigenous wives and both have served as Governor and both had years of living in the Bush. Both Jay and Mike are Republicans too. Shall I go on?
          The above comes from a fellow who was born here and and almost laps your experience in the Great Land. Keep on hating Sweeny! After all, that’s all you and the other nihilist democraps have to offer.

      • You must not have known them that well, because they lived in Naknek in 1969, and didn’t live at Lake Clark until after leaving office in 1982.

  4. Not a fan of him as governor, but he seems like a decent man. Probably why the legislature owned him so badly.

    Politics is dirty work.

  5. A very apt comparison, Suzanne. I thought highly of Governor Hammond and am continually impressed with Governor Dunleavy’s leadership.

    • Cynthia, Jay Hammond was an impressive and colorful man, all who knew him or had the opportunity to visit with him would probably concur with that.

      He will always be remembered by me for his rebuttal to Jess Carr, the Teamster Honcho who publicly called Hammond a Son of a Bi**h. Hammonds response was classic, ” Except for our shared service in the Marine Corps, I didn’t know that Jessie and I had anything else in common”.

    • Not impressed with a governor that hides the criminal activities of his Dept. of Health and Social Services staff members and his own activities. You are a Republican and so am I. You were a part of choosing for Republicans to support this “elected piece of junk” Dunleavy. The man is an idiot and no good at the work he was elected to do. You know it. So do I and a lot of other Republicans and persons who are not Republicans. Once this louse is stripped out of the election, we can all celebrate. He is definitely a Democrat at heart and the work he does shows it. He is in legal trouble all the time because the man is just plain stupid and an idiot. Look at the ongoing investigation of the foster care program and criminal activities of personnel and the foster care parents for the harm done to children. Dunleavy runs from and hides everything he does. The people he has hired and stood by are radical idiots and so is Dunleavy. Wake up Cynthia Henry and if you can’t, the Alaska GOP should rid you of the office you are in. Quit lying to the public and the membership of the Republican Party in Alaska.

  6. Impressive on Dunleavy’s part but in no way can he compare to Hillary Clinton. Remember, Hillary went to Iraq and quickly drew sniper fire. She ran, dodged bullets, and did some cool Rambo stuff (this tale was actually debunked by a soldier who was there, but it was good theatre).

  7. Thank you Suzanne, governor mike gave us our full dividends. Governor mike I love your guts sir and what a class man. I will vote 100% for Governor mike. Thank you for you oath integrity and setting the pace of goodness, yes sir.

  8. He also is astute judging the situations around him. I am sorry Alaskans weren’t independent minded nor conservative enough, so we could have really seen Dunleavy’s and Arduin’s expectations help Alaska soar. It’s not too late for Alaskans choose to be independent, off government assistance whether the recipient is a local entity asking for federal or state money or SNAP. The things local leaders make requests for, their towns should have enough businesses to pay for the town’s needs, so they have no need asking congress for money. It’s not another state responsiblity taking care of alaska.

    • When you going to vote, you must decide which candidate will work with collegues increasing more drug-free, independent, employed, and law-biding alaskans? Lessening alaska’s dependence from the million dollar congress appropriations to the everyday monthly hand-outs distributed through div of public. assistance and dept of health and social service. Just like the parents or grandparent of an adult child in one-way to many ways still dependent who needs to learn independence before their family dies leaving them to the street’s mercy, but its a slow going loving process that may begin first with learning how to just hold down a job-as an example alaska’s level of

  9. It’s refreshing to see a story about someone who is really a great Alaskan. No Alaskan is perfect, but Dunleavy has done a good job. And probably better than Jay Hammond, although I’ll hold off judgment for another four years.

  10. Thank you, Suzanne! Great story reminding Alaskans where Dunleavy came from. I not only hope that he will get re-elected, and that he will sit down afterwards and write a book about his Alaska the way that Jay Hammond did. I have one of Jay Hammond’s books and it is all about the people of Alaska, not about Jay Hammond. According to his statements, he really misses the people in rural Arctic Alaska. The governor stated in an extensive interview with the Alaska Outdoor Council earlier in the year that the reason he moved his family closer to Anchorage was that Rose had trouble delivering their third daughter. He had a family meeting and it was at that meeting that it was decided to move and they bought the 45 acre homestead so they could have plenty of animals. So I guess he is still a country guy. And drove a truck to work. Love it! Thanks for sharing the original article in the story behind the picture. It also reminds all Alaskans why Walker and Gara must be defeated. And Alaskans should also be careful who gets into the legislature. Use their RCV against the Walkerytes and Rank Red! Now is not the time to stand on your “principles;” that would be playing into the hands of the grafters who wrote this abomination and in effect voting for Gara and Walker. Rank Red!

  11. I would be more impressed with our do nothing governor if he would send the leftist doctor Zink packing. Something he should have done over 2 years ago.

  12. I liked Governor Hammond very much. However, his Alaska was a fantasy in many respects, and we all suffer from his fantastic legacy even today. He thought that if you give people food stamps, subsidized electricity, free housing, and cash they will one day decide to build a machine shop to service the construction and fishing industries, build a sawmill to provide for Alaska home construction, start a dairy farm, grow grain to export the way Ukraine and Russia have, and in that way create a private sector. He thought that by government showing us people don’t really need to produce anything we would grow a productive state. Instead, Alaska has less of all that industry today, and even more people on the dole and more people working for government than we did when he was Governor. Government employment exceeds employment in all of those industries Hammond imagined – combined! When and where have handouts created a hard-working people? When did 80,000 state and municipal employees (toiling 37.5 hours a week), and the thousands who work for nonprofits that live on government, ever attract new industry? How can an economy work if everyone lives on government checks (and our fantasy is to put a tax on those checks in order to support government)? Yes, I liked Jay Hammond, but I think that his brain may have been pickled by faulty aircraft exhausts before he ever ran for Governor. Today Alaska retains the people who must work for government or not work at all, and we export the people who want to build economic wealth.

  13. Jay Hammond was in a class of his own, and Alaska will never have another governor like him, nor will Alaska be what it was back then.
    I’m sure Dunleavy is a decent guy- especially when compared with a slime ball like Walker- but all I needed to know about his leadership (or lack of it) is demonstrated by two things:
    1. his undying loyalty and allegiance to Dr. Zink, the vax queen;
    2. his lack of any condemnation of the utterly wicked Anchorage Assembly which has abused Alaskan citizens for years now.

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