Several Republicans in Legislature turn on Dunleavy, refuse to confirm education champion Bob Griffin

Bob Griffin

Bob Griffin, one of the most vigorous supporters of students and teachers in Alaska, was not confirmed by a joint session of the Alaska House and Senate on Tuesday for another term on the Alaska Board of Education and Early Development. The vote was 21-yes, 39-no, and included several Republicans who voted against the governor’s nominee.

Griffin, who is also on the board of directors of the conservative Alaska Policy Forum, which has a record of supporting good education policy in the Legislature, has been a strong advocate for accountability in the largely unaccountable school system in Alaska.

For nearly a decade, he advocated for the Alaska Reads Act, and he’s written op-eds in favor of charter schools and other educational pathways. He disagrees with a lower court decision recently that stripped state funding from correspondence students. He encouraged legislators to not override the governor’s veto of a flawed funding bill this year.

During the joint session on Tuesday, Griffin was attacked with special animosity by Democrat Sen. Loki Tobin of Anchorage, who accused him of an inventory of faults, some of them patently false, such as accusing him of once representing himself as a member of the Department of Education and Early Development, something that didn’t happen. What happened an error in the minutes of a meeting, as was pointed out later by one of Griffin’s defenders.

She also accused him of saying that “women can’t dunk.” That also didn’t happen. Griffin had once stated, in the context of defending girls in sports from transgender takeover, that the number of dunks in the WNBA were less than the dunks by one game in the NBA. (In the 27 WNBA history, there are 33 recorded dunks by just 8 individual women. By comparison, since the 2000-2001 season, there have been 169,734 dunks made in the NBA.)

Tobin then accused him of trying to strip funding from schools. In fact, he has advocated for accountability and better use of funding, and he has shown how Alaska schools are some of the top-funded in the nation.

Griffin was not sulking about the votes against him or the surly disparagements of his record by those who support the position of the National Education Association, which is demanding permanent annual increases in school funding, without accompanying accountability.

“I was a fighter pilot for 22 and have had my a– chewed by better people than those,” he said.

In the Legislature, Republicans usually support a Republican governor and Democrats usually support a Democrat governor.

In a rarely witnessed show of disloyalty, however, several Republicans in the Democrat-dominated Senate turned on Gov. Dunleavy by voting against Griffin’s confirmation. They included: Sen. Cathy Giessel, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, Sen. Click Bishop, Sen. Kelly Merrick, Sen. Bert Stedman and Sen. Gary Stevens.

On the House side, five Republicans also turned their backs on the governor with their votes, including Rep. Julie Coulombe, Rep. Will Stapp, Rep. Louise Stutes, Rep. Jesse Sumner, and Rep. Stanley Wright.

Griffin said, “This is not going to slow me down, but will give me more time and opportunity to advocate for reform. It actually buoys my spirit that I’m a lightning rod, because that means I’ve been effective. I was the one who encouraged the introduction of the Alaska Reads Act three times before it was picked up by Gov. Dunleavy and [former] Sen. Tom Begich, and passed by one vote in 2022. I will be working tirelessly to get more education reforms, which we desperately need in Alaska,” he said.

“I served my five years on the board knowing it was unlikely I would be able to serve another five years,” Griffin said. “I can’t change who I am in order to maintain a title.”

The nomination of Barbara Tyndall of Fairbanks to the state Board of Education was next on the agenda of the joint session. She fared better. Although criticized by Democrats for being a Christian, in the end, Tyndall was confirmed on a vote of 34-26.


  1. There’s no Republican Senators listed Suzanne. They’re all PFD thieving RINOs that will in the end, fight tooth and nail to give what’s left of the PFD too the arguably, worst public school system in America for the money spent. ($2.2 Billion annually)

    Mr. Griffin you scare the hell out of them. You have that rare combination of common sense, integrity, intelligence and balls, which is more than the nosayers are capable of dealing with.

  2. The legislatufre reflects the will of the people. By any measure our schools are being underfunded, contrary to what Griffin believes.

    • Frank, Alaska ranks at the very top for school funding per kid, at over $19,000.00 per kid, per year. Despite this lavish funding our kids rank near the very bottom (in test scores) of the 50 US states.

    • I don’t know that the schools are underfunded, but I do know that many are fed up with large sums of money being blown to prop up perceived day care center’s that are supposed to be schools., you know, lack of discipline, catering to over a hundred languages, cell phone interruptions, the slow holding the ambitious strivers back, attendance, too many days off, less hours on Mondays and other problems. Spoiled.

    • I guess measurements aren’t what they used to be. Off the top of my head I can think of a number of measurements that clearly show our schools aren’t underfunded.

  3. Excellent reaction, Mr. Griffin.
    We need lightning rods everywhere!

    What’s the story behind your vote, Bjorkman and Sumner? You disappoint, once again.

  4. Your newly elected Alaska GOP chair is weak. This is more on her than on Governor Dunleavy. She already shows she can’t lead, can’t unite, can’t control the legislature GOP leadership.

    This confirmation was her first order of business. It is just another humiliation Democrats can laugh at the party.

  5. As the most effective advocate for correspondence students on the board, we fought to keep him there!

    Our final vote to keep him on the board was blocked by 14 Republicans. Bob was a conservative Air Force veteran who is wholly dedicated to the well-being of Alaska students. He deserved far better than the treatment he received today. In the end, 19 Republicans staid true with Bob to the end; 14 crossed over. These are the legislators who didn’t mind being shown against Bob when push came to shove:

    Sen. Cathy Giessel
    Sen. Jesse Bjorkman
    Sen. Click Bishop
    Sen. Kelly Merrick
    Sen. Bert Stedman
    Sen. Gary Stevens

    Rep. Tom Baker
    Rep. Julie Coulombe
    Rep. Kevin McCabe
    Rep. Tom McKay
    Rep. Will Stapp
    Rep. Louise Stutes
    Rep. Jesse Sumner
    Rep. Stanley Wright

    Having been publicly savaged by Democrats, Bob now has even greater credibility to speak for students. They go after those who are most threatening to their agenda. His forceful and compelling advocacy for education reform in Alaska made him enemy number 1. Thank you, Bob. Don’t give up the fight!

    • Whew, I see that my two most unfavorite reps are on that list: McCabe and Sumner. Total sell-outs once again. How on earth do they even have the guts to show their faces in public out in the Mat-Su Valley? OH! That is right, the local Women’s Republican clubs are sell-outs and cater to the globalist agenda and welcome these traitors into their meetings with open arms and big smiles. We are so done with these traitors! Looking forward to the People’s trials for all of these turncoats…all of them.

    • David aka Democrat vote more with the democrats than any other Republican. Sit down and be quiet. That was a rescind vote action. McKay and McCabe supported Bob!

    • Rep McKay voted to confirm Bob Griffin. Quit lying David. The “rescind” motion you made (which Rep. McKay DID vote no on) had no chance to pass and was just another waste of time like what you usually do.

    • And you voted to confirm Cathy Munoz as Commissioner of the Dept of Labor. If it were your daughter that was raped by Thomas Jack (the man she so ardently defended and sought a lesser sentence for) would you still have voted to confirm?

  6. It would not be good to look at both sides of an issue. Some in the Legislature must be working towards a dictatorship.

  7. Bob Griffin has forgotten more about education in the State of Alaska than Sen. (in name only) Tobin
    will ever know. Wonder if NEA reimbursed her for her character assassination of a very knowledgeable
    man and a veteran?

  8. As usual Eastman lies again. says on the substack comments that a group of 14 republicans voted against Griffin. This did not happen. They voted against rescinding action on his vote, mostly because it was his motion but also because there was no possible way it was going to happen. Reconsideration is effective when there are one or two votes that might be switched in the intervening time. Interestingly Eastman did apparently nothing during the time between the actual vote for Bob and his motion to rescind action and that vote. I watched this pretty carefully because Bob is a friend of mine. I called and asked around. Eastman is 100% lying. Look to the original vote, not the rescind action vote. This is why Eastman is so ineffective and why everyone hates working with him.

      • Representative Eastman,

        Just to be clear, are you standing by every word that djc wrote, because that is what you just said.

    • The turncoats don’t like working with Eastman because he keeps exposing the lies and the reps who do like humans are afraid to speak out on issues that are not good for us. It is too bad for you and your buddies because the dirt is going to come out in the wash. It will be a good day for Alaskans and a bad day for the turncoat, lying reps and their little minion buddies.

    • Hang on there, I am confused.
      Not only does it appear that Mr. Eastman voted to confirm Mr. Griffin, but according to you demanded a vote for reconsideration, to give him another chance. Seems to me he did a great deal more to advance your friend’s nomination than any of these 14 others. I gather you dislike Mr. Eastman, but in this instance you should be upset with Senator Tobin, who maligned Mr. Griffin’s good character with lies and innuendo. A tactic all of a sudden prevalent with more liberal members of the legislature to smear appointees, without giving them much of a chance to clarify or correct.

  9. None of the “Republicans” listed are conservative. Not that the Republican Party is essentially conservative either. Still, I would categorize all of them as left leaning. Far more in the direction of Democrat, which has been fully hijacked by extreme leftist ideology.

  10. Tyndall criticized by Democrats for being a Christian? Seriously? How bigoted. Imagine the uproar had Republicans criticized a State Board of Education candidate for being Muslim. First amendment much?

    • What furthers the agenda of the left will be tolerated, if not encouraged. What frustrates that agenda (like Bob), will not be.

      • How’s the HUGE trust fund doing? Where’s Hollis French? He can ID the Birthright owner of said account. Don’t steal. No one likes a thief.

  11. It seems the alleged Republicans in the alleged legislature are flexing their muscle.

    In this case, the muscle means keeping the education overlords happy by doing as told.

  12. This comment by Bob Griffin says it all, “I can’t change who I am in order to maintain a title.” That’s integrity something that many legislators could take a lesson from.

  13. Gary Stevens and Louise Stutes are way past their sell by date. They are completely bought and sold by the teachers unions and no longer represent the interests of their constituents.

    Kodiak needs new leadership.

  14. Lets hope Bob Griffin gets another appointment, he has the brains and drive that the NEA losers do not.

    I wonder how many of those who attacked Bob could land a 737-800 with an ILS approach in bad weather? I’d bet not one.

  15. Bob Griffin is just another guy who either can’t read or can’t comprehend the plain language of our constitution…. no publics funds shall be spent for private or religious schools.

    • jim the Blaine amendment has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, our legislature just keeps it in order to support the NEA (and their campaign donations). The funds should follow the child!!

  16. This will end up being a case of the AEA / NEA friendly democrats not being sufficiently careful of what they are wishing for, not unlike a dog who chases a vehicle and catches it. Now that you’ve bounced Griffin, what do you expect will happen?

    If Bob is not formally part of the education blob, he has more latitude with his future actions. Now that he knows who his friends are, I would anticipate a more effective approach to education. Might be time to make popcorn. Cheers –

  17. Eagle River voters need to show up in a big way and give Kelly Merrick the boot. We don’t have much of a say in MOA, ASD, and now SOA. Eagle River, Chugiak, Peters Creek has the numbers to sway the Anchorage Mayoral election now, but will we bother to use that power? EagleExit needs to happen ASAP, and we need to replace Merrick in Juneau. We owe it to our children to fix this mess we’ve helped create. Come on, man!

    • Actually what C-ER voters should do, is have a heart to heart with Sharon Jackson and Mr. Goecker. Both are running to replace Kelly Merrick. We all have heard that song before, two challengers fight it out and the incumbent RINO walks back to Juneau. There should be a clear choice. This vote splitting has to end, since with RCV we no longer have the opportunity to kick her out in the primary.

  18. New Oxford American Dictionary:

    “Loki: it was mischievous, and sometimes evil God, who contrived the death of Balder, and was punished by being bound to a rock.”

  19. This is a suprise?
    Bob Griffin should have been enthusiastically welcomed by Alaska’s education-industy officials dedicated to corruption, illiteracy, and perversion, the very qualities which Bob so vehemently opposes?
    At least productive Alaskans now know which public servants are most supportive of the corruption, illiteracy, and perversion which seem to be cornerstones of Alaska’s education industry.
    Good news is Bob, outgunned, outmaneuvered, survived a big, lopsided dogfight.
    Bob gets to land, re-evaluate tactics, figure out how to be the damned lightning instead of the lightning rod, then take it to them in ways they won’t forget.
    This, with help, could work, no?

  20. Some facts regarding RINO Representative Jesse Sumner:
    Educated at far left liberal University of Calif. at Santa Barbara.
    Helped finance a campaign to keep far left liberals on Palmer City Council. Those far left liberals were then removed by a recall election. Cosponsored a bill to move the state away from natural gas and move towards renewable energy/solar panels to power South Central/State of AK. No proven technology at present times to make this move to solar panels feasible on such a grand scale and costs. Another boondoggle just like the port at Point Mackenzie.
    Voted against a non union owned, proven, dedicated pro education appointee.
    Mr. Sumner’s thought processes are clouded by his indoctrination years in Calif. Wake up Valley! Time for a recall.

  21. None of the names who voted against Griffin surprise me. Most of them are sworn enemies of the governor, who is also a former educator, as well as perhaps three having their eyes on the next gubernatorial run. Giessel, Bishop, and possibly Sen. Jesse Bjorkman. Stedman has seldom been an ally, and Kelly Merrick is married to a union guy if I am not mistaken. These people should have been given the boot years ago, but voters tend to vote for incumbents. Let’s see the republican base get busy this time and get the job done. Democracy is not for couch potatoes, it demands full scale participation.


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