Senate Pres. Cathy Giessel gets primary challenger

Roger Holland

On the first day of the legislative session in Juneau, Senate President Cathy Giessel got a wake-up call back in her South Anchorage district: A challenger had filed a “letter of intent.”

It wasn’t Rep. Lance Pruitt, whom many have said could challenge the senator in the 2020 Republican Primary. Pruitt is the representative for District 27, one of two House seats in District N. Pruitt hasn’t filed for office, an indication that he has not made up his mind if he will challenge Giessel.

It wasn’t Vince Beltrami, the union boss from the AFL-CIO, who challenged her four years ago, running as another of the “undeclared” Democrats, a current fashion among Alaska Democrats trying to win in a red state.

The challenge came from a political unknown — Roger Holland, an employee of the State of Alaska, a Reserve member of the U.S. Coast Guard, and a Republican.

Unlike Giessel, Holland wasn’t raised in Alaska. He is originally from Louisiana, but moved to the state in 2009 with his wife Leslie, and two daughters. He worked as an environmental biologist in Louisiana, and is a measurement scientist for the Alaska Department of Transportation.

Holland, 58, filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to run for office, although he didn’t officially indicate which one — House or Senate. He lives in House District 28, now represented by Rep. Jennifer Johnston. His letter of intent allows him to raise money, and he launched a website,, but he could run for either seat. He also has a Facebook page.

This morning, he announced on Facebook he will match donations 1:1 through the end of January.

Giessel, as with other sitting legislators, cannot campaign or raise campaign funds while the Legislature is in session.

“I’m running to serve as an honest, sensible, and honorable Republican in the Alaska legislature,” Holland wrote on his campaign website, an introductory statement that is a clear message that defines the differences between his approach and that of the current Senate President.

Giessel has created a seemingly unbreakable alliance with House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Democrat who agreed to become “Undeclared,” so that he could be elected leader of a bipartisan House team led by Democrats. The two have paired up to oppose Gov. Michael Dunleavy on many key issues.

Holland’s statement implies he wouldn’t have made that alliance.

“… if I’m chosen to serve, I won’t be a free agent. I’m running for office on a set of principles, and they aren’t for sale. Yes, compromise in government is key, and I’ll be among the first to the table every time, but we aren’t here to compromise away sound ideas for poor ones.

“Saying yes to temporary political alliances isn’t courageous. Saying no is,” he wrote.

Giessel, who serves as Senate President, will meet with her Republican-led caucus this morning before gaveling in at 1 pm for the first day of legislative business. She is leading a caucus that has some inherent dissension over topics familiar to those following Alaska politics: The size of the state budget and the method for calculating the Permanent Fund dividend.


  1. Now we’re talkin’! I will be voting for Roger Holland to replace the RINO Cathy Giessel. Holland will be a solid choice to take our state back from the “swamp” RINOs. We need a legislature who will back our Governor Dunleavy.

  2. He will get the max allowed by law from me. Geissel is my Senator. But she has let me and her constituents down at almost every turn. I have tried to talk with her on several occasions, but have yet to hear from her or anyone in her office. She is quick to smile when she is asking for campaign contributions. But try to get an audience with her after she gets elected. Does not happen.
    Her alignment with the Speaker, another Republican turncoat, is a deal killer. Holland sounds like the kind of person we need to represent real Republicans.

    • Alaskans First: Yes, compare that with personally returned phone calls I got from Sen. Peter Micciche, and Rep. Sarah Vancewhen I had questions. Not by aides but by the elected officials themselves….Respect.

    • My guess: Holland runs, Pruitt runs, they cancel each other and Geissel wins again. ?
      Republicans have a knack for beating themselves. I see no change in legislative makeup in the future. Get out your wallets Alaskans.

  3. Fantastic! Gives Giessel and Johnston something to think about while they are massaging a way to take more from us to give more power to themselves. This is refreshing news! It is going to be such a fun year!

  4. From his website “I have decided to run for Alaska State Senator for District N because I believe that our voices are not being heard.”
    I don’t live in District N, but I might just be making a donation later today.

  5. This guy is a joke. From his website ” I moved to Alaska in 2009 for employment opportunities”. I would never vote for someone that moves up here for a job. Especially someone who comes to work in state government. I guess Alaska pays better than Louisiana. I thought real republicans were for smaller state government. What about the private sector can do everything cheaper and better. Since virtue signaling seems to be popular now this guy has it down. Nice photos on his issues page. Too bad this guy could probably not name one of them.

    • Hi, Leo, sorry you feel that way. When people move, they usually do it for a job or to be closer to family.
      I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my ten years here in Anchorage.
      Let me know if you want to do lunch sometime.
      Roger Holland

      • Sorry Roger I disagree. I did not move here for a job and I do not know of any friends that did. I came here to climb mountains and have adventures in Alaska. Why a person is here and what they have done in Alaska is something I look at in politicians. Sure I always worked but that is not why I came or stayed here. I am glad you found a higher paying government job in Alaska than Louisiana . Good to hear you have enjoyed your 10 years in Anchorage. I have never enjoyed anytime spent in Anchorage. So I appreciate your lunch offer but I do not see it in the future. Good luck on your run. Just curious did you take the photos on your website? That is a nice shot on your issues page.

        • Hi, Leo, actually, I was unemployed for the first seven months I was in Alaska. I was a Field Biologist, and it’s a tough field to break into up here. I’m thankful that my appreciation of mathematics made me a good fit for the measurement scientist position I finally found.
          I’m not a professional photographer, and I have to admit, climbing mountains is not in my skillset. I’m an avid snow machiner. I ride a 2014 Pro-RMK 800 that I bought used, and I enjoy boating in Western Prince William Sound, but I currently don’t have a boat. I rely on friends with boats and a great organization of volunteers I belong to called the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
          Sorry I can’t interest you in lunch sometime. I’m really not such a bad guy.


        • Most people came up here “for a job” many, many years ago – both before Alaska was made a state and after. Using that as a criteria for your disapproval of him running for office is nonsensical and quite frankly immature in your thinking. I would rather have someone who is coming her for a job, rather than someone who is coming here for a PFD check or to live off welfare.

        • Making a big move and taking on a better job regardless the reason at an older age says a lot for the man. The military brought me here. I’ve bettered my surroundings and my community since I came back. Mr. Holland thanks for being here and best of luck.

        • I would trust a person more that moved to Alaska for a job, with with the future of our Great State in which I was born and raised than I would trust someone that moved here for a recreational agenda. Your reality does not align with a vast majority of families and individuals. Go climb a hill in third world country instead of trying to turn ours into one. Than maybe you will connect the dots between leisure life activities and a capitalist society.

        • So you’re rippin’ on him cuz he came to Alaska to work, but you came here to play?! What makes you so much better than him? Most adults move for better career opportunities. Cryin out loud, keep your negativity to yourself.

    • He didn’t move up here to become a legislator he came up because he wanted to live in Alaska and found a job. As well as the coast guard reserves. He just now decided to run for office. I see no problem with that, and certainly better then the alternative

    • So Leo I think this is appropriate for you. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

    • “I would never vote for someone that moves up here for a job.” I’m guessing that if you vote then you’ve already done exactly that numerous times. Personally I would never vote for anyone who moves up here for a free handout, but to each their own.

    • The only thing to catch my attention was the “measurement scientist” thing. There was a fellow that ran for state House about 30 years ago who called himself a metrologist. He was criticized for misleading people into believing that he was a meteorologist. Of course, this was when the news media actually scrutinized candidates’ backgrounds. Around this same time, we saw the unlikely election of a Democrat in an extremely red district because of her Republican opponent’s self-destruction over a made-up background.

  6. Way past time to fire People’s Imperial State Senate President and Co-Governor Giessel.
    Roger Holland, you have my vote.
    And donation.

  7. Very pleased you have chosen to serve and right the ship…. My grandfather moved up here in the 1920,s Looking for a job,,, Leo,,,

  8. Remember people redistricting will be happening. YOU just might find yourself in this district after the census. Lord knows last round things change for my area.
    If you think he is better than the weasel who Lied and you can get money to him please do. Running is hard and costly…. The wrong people in office is more costly.
    So, remember you might not be in his district today but you might in the future.
    Volunteer to help the people you would proudly want to stand with you.
    Signs locations tips, sweat workers to put up signs, folks show off your cooking by hosting him in your home with friends, at your groups , walking the streets to get his name out. This guy is working so he will need a everyone he can get. Don’t thing you have nothing to contribute. Help Holland help Alaska.

  9. Mr. Rogers seems like a good man and an asset to our State. Regardless, it seems problematic for a current Executive Branch employee to run for an office in the Legislative Branch, or any elected office at the state or national level for that matter. If you don’t understand why that is a problem, you don’t understand American Government. As a small-government Republican, I don’t like to see conflicts of interest in our government.

    There should be a law against this… Oh, wait – there is a law against it! Mr. Rogers, are you aware of AS 39.25.160, which automatically removes you from your state position the same day you file your declaration of candidacy?

    So, Mr. Rogers, when can we the people expect your resignation?

  10. Wow, my original comment got deleted really fast! What’s up with that, Suzanne???

    I expressed concern about the conflict of interest in a state employee running for state-level elected office. I pointed out that AS 39.26.160 automatically removes Mr. Rogers from office the day he files his declaration of candidacy…

    Bottom line: Mr. Rogers can’t run for the Legislature AND keep his current state job.

    So, Mr. Rogers, when do you plan to resign your state job?

  11. Roger, a lifelong Alaskan friend called with excitement! Geissel has a viable Challenger! His Dad was Coast Guard, Sitka in the 1950’s. His two sons and daughter are U.S. Marines. After this week, they are all discharged and of course military contractors trained them and hired two of his sons the day their enlistment was up! Super smart, patriotic young men and daughter. He raised them right: HONEST, principled and hard working kids, who grew to be awesome young men.

    The binding caucus and Geissel’s dishonesty put Alaska deep into deficit spending and her siding with a coalition supporting the doctrine of the opposition tax and spend party is just awful for Alaska. Expect our maximum donation.

  12. Some of the best people I know moved to Alaska for “a job!” I suppose there are some lines of work I wouldn’t be a fan of…like if you moved here to open a meth lab, but my experience has been that the people who are looking for a job in Alaska are doing it because they WANT TO BE IN ALASKA! I’ve never been one to give a lot of weight to the amount of time someone has lived in Alaska. We all know scumbags who were born here & do nothing to contribute. I am so hurt about how Giessel has disenfranchised the military by the way she treats veteran colleagues and stripping a senator who represents half of JBER & a large number of military families in Eagle River of most of her committees & positions for doing what she said she was going to do. Anyone who punishes a fellow senator for having integrity and faithfully representing their constituency desperately needs a primary opponent! I’ll be donating and signing up to help Holland!

  13. I like him already. Wish I was in their voting district, because he would get my vote and Giessel would be out!

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