Heckendorn bears down with another sex scandal - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Heckendorn bears down with another sex scandal

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Remember the Politico story that identified campaign strategist John-Henry Heckendorn as the Democrats’ wunderkind of the north, turning the red state of Alaska purple without voters realizing what was happening?

Heckendorn, Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, and Forrest Dunbar recruited Democrat Zach Fansler to run against Rep. Bob Herron in Bethel, and Dean Westlake to run against Rep. Ben Nageak.

Two good family men were taken out by “Shades-of-Gray Fansler” and “Wandering-Hands Westlake.”

The political operatives for the Democrats recruited Justin Parish to run against moderate Republican Rep. Cathy Munoz in Juneau, because she was, they said, soft on crime; she asked for a judicial review of a constituent’s sentence.

It’s all coming back, isn’t it?

How to Turn a Red State Purple was a fawning story about pretend independents that fooled Alaska voters into thinking they were not Democrats, like Jason Grenn, District 22, who is featured prominently in the publication’s cover art:

Turns out, Heckendorn, Dunbar, and Kreiss-Tomkins brought a posse of playboys to power — randy men who then fell to earth spectacularly due to their misbehavior: Reps. Fansler, Dean Westlake, and Justin Parish.

Now, Bill Walker and Byron Mallott were taken down by … their own behavior, as it turns out, with Heckendorn steering the campaign. Mallott was caught in a sordid series of events that the Administration has chosen to cover up to protect the “victim.”

[Read: The plot thickens on Mallott resignation]

John-Henry Heckendorn

Heckendorn ran the Walker-Mallott campaign into the Twilight Zone after jumping into the Walker Administration for a year of State paycheck as Walker’s embedded campaign guy on the State dime.

If there’s a Midas touch, is there something the opposite, such as a “Kiss Your Campaign Goodbye” touch?

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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

  • Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

  • A curious aside about “pretend independents”. If you go to the ADN website, you’ll notice that you can’t comment on many stories. A note appears at the top of the thread stating “Most comment threads close after two weeks”. In reality, the ADN routinely closes them after a day or two. I discovered this recently when I went to comment on the story about the death of Ed Willis. Willis more or less pioneered the concept in Alaska politics of a Democrat masquerading as an independent due to living in a place where one couldn’t get elected by calling themselves a Democrat, as Eagle River had veered sharply to the right during the 1980s. The story, credited to the Alaska Star (I honestly don’t know whether the Star is still an independent newspaper or effectively the ADN’s Eagle River bureau these days), conveniently left out the fact that Willis served in the Senate as a Democrat and lost re-election to freshman Republican representative Tim Kelly by five votes in 1978. That event was overshadowed by another close contest in that year’s elections, namely the Republican primary contest between Jay Hammond and Wally Hickel. All this despite the fact that the story extensively quoted Lee Jordan. Jordan is somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 years old, but still appears to possess an encyclopedic knowledge about Eagle River history. You would think that details such as these would be important enough to include in a story looking back on the life of a notable politician, wouldn’t you?

  • I love your writing, Suzanne. “…a posse of playboys to power.” How’s that for alliteration?

    And yes, it’s called the Kiss of Death.

    Great read. Thanks!

  • I fear that many in the media will continue to treat the young Mr. Heckendorn as some kind of political oracle for the foreseeable future. He is simply so hip and cool. And corrupt, but that likely will not be mentioned.

    In a related matter, the newly refashioned Anchorage Daily News continues to disappoint. They continue to feature their favorite “mascot” columnists that put out a daily stream of feel-good, politically-correct messages to spoon-feed to newcomers. (At least Charles Wohlforth has been honest: He admits he opposes the election of Mike Dunleavy. I expect Charles is working on a new hit-piece right now.) I am waiting for Dermot Cole, Elise Patkotak and even Rhonda McBride to reappear at any moment. The Binkleys were Republicans at one time. The latest business venture is an embarrassment.

    • JMARK, I had high hopes that the Binkley’s would provide something a bit better as well when they acquired the ADN. Not so. I have been very disappointed.

  • Great read Suzanne. I wonder if people ask him for his resume before they hire him? “Show me your campaign portfolio”…..crikey!!

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