There’s something not right about Rep. Justin Parish of Juneau. He’s prone to theatrics, but has he finally gone too far?
On a Monday KINY radio talk show hosted by longtime broadcaster Pete Carran, Parish was musing about the state’s budget and his opinion of Senate President Pete Kelly, which is not high. “People don’t want to see Pete Kelly’s Alaska,” he said.
He went on to say that Republicans were terrorizing State employees.
Carran then asked Parish about his idea of changing the Alaska Constitution: If legislators don’t finish the budget within 90 days, his idea would be to prohibit them from running for their seats again. All of them.
“I think you would move the gun from the heads of almost 20,000 State workers to the heads of 60 legislators where it more rightly belongs,” Parish said.
A few minutes later in the broadcast he described Republican lawmakers in the Senate as actual terrorists:
“Ya know, it feels like I’m negotiating with someone who’s got our children and our seniors hostage, and their idea of a deal is give the oil industry of your money and we’ll only kill one of ’em,” he said.
House Minority Leader Charisse Millett was taken aback by the comments.
“This is not the way you describe your fellow lawmakers, or State workers — with imagery of a gun to our heads,” she said. “And to use the violent imagery of killing children and the elderly? He is a lawmaker. Where’s Speaker Edgmon in censuring this kind of graphic language coming from the Democrats’ caucus?”
Earlier this year, the House majority Democrats led a push to censure Rep. David Eastman for comments he made to the media, when the Republican from Wasilla speculated that some village women were using their pregnancies as a way to get a free trip to the city. Rep. Ivy Spohnolz of Anchorage was the prime mover behind the censure.
Millett, during those debates over Eastman’s censure, asked Speaker Bryce Edgmon, “What happens, Mr. Speaker, and what are you willing to do the next time someone gets up on the floor and I find something incredibly offensive? Or in committee? Will you take a stand for me? Will you censure the person that has offended me?”
Millett today said Parish went too far in using language that puts a gun to the heads of Alaskans, and in describing the violent killing of children and elders, analogously, by Republican state senators.
Kathy Griffin, the comedian, famously got in trouble with her commercial sponsors last week for posting on social media an image of herself holding the imaginary bloody head of President Donald Trump.
Parish, the lawmaker, painted word pictures to describe violence against Alaskans. The actions of the two are only separated by the visuals. Within a span of three minutes, Parish had three times described Republicans as terrorists in increasingly graphic terms.
The violent verbal imagery, distasteful as it is, also misses the point that the ones creating the crisis are Parish’s very own House Democrats, more so than either the Governor or the Senate. The Governor has offered a significant compromise, which was rejected immediately as “dead on arrival” by the Democrats and near-Democrats who are this year’s House majority leaders.
By contrast, the Senate credited the governor for his effort and offered to discuss it further, sending him a letter to ask for clarification of some of his ideas.
But for Parish, it’s all about the theatrical descriptions of guns to heads, the killing of the children and old folks, which drew a swift response from Tuckerman Babcock, chair of the Alaska Republican Party.
“I’ve been involved in Alaskan politics since 1978, and Juneau has a long history of electing Democrats and Republicans of stature, gravity and influence, and now they’ve elected a buffoon,” Babcock said. “Whether a Democrat or a Republican, this is the worst Juneau has ever produced.”