Alaska politics is nothing, if not colorful. Politicians in the Last Frontier have occasionally been sweet (Rep. Peggy Wilson comes to mind), but that is the exception to the norm. A lot of them are street fighters, at least on social media.
There’s the alleged Sarah Palin sext messages to her boyfriend, as exposed by one of his ex-girlfriends in Florida, who seems not happy about him running off with the ex-governor of Alaska. It’s enough to base a reality TV show on all by itself. Palin has been providing all kinds of interesting content on social media since she entered the race for Congress on April 1.
She is no stranger to reality TV. Back in the day, she had a season of Sarah Palin’s Alaska in which she caught fish, chopped down trees, and hunted.
There’s another repeat candidate, Huhnkie Lee, who came in second to last in the recent primary election for U.S. Senate for Alaska. Lee is a no-party candidate who doesn’t have much of a filter in person or online. He often talks about how he is heterosexual and he clearly doesn’t care for homosexuals. This month, prior to the primary, he wrote about the interracial marriage of U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka, which he called “pornographic.”
Lee, who ran for state Senate for District D in 2020, is also the first Alaskan to announce his run for the U.S. presidency in 2024. He has one of the more colorful Facebook pages of any political candidate. Last week he apologized for some of his more bizarre posts, saying they were due to post traumatic stress disorder from campaigning.
His following on Facebook, over 1,000, is comprised of at least some curiosity seekers who just find him entertaining — and they can find lots of entertainment in his videos, such as this one, where he sings “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa.
Not to be outdone in the inappropriate social media department is no-party candidate Heather Herndon, running for state Senate in an Anchorage seat being vacated by Democrat Sen. Tom Begich. She’s running against Democrat Loki Tobin, who as the staffer to Tom Begich might be a shoo-in, even though she is a radical LGBTQ activist.
Herndon has been on Facebook this year discussing her issue with “Jew lawyers,” such as Forrest Dunbar, who run Anchorage. She used the words “Jew lawyers” repeatedly as a pejorative and said that people who came from outside the state are now running things that should be run by locals. In response, Dunbar went to Twitter to talk about his upbringing in Alaska and his family’s heritage. Socialistic as he may be, but Dunbar is a born-and-raised Alaskan socialist.
Then there’s the tweeting of Chris Dimond, who ran against Rep. Sara Hannah in Juneau a few years ago, without success. Dimond was endorsed by then-Gov. Bill Walker at the time and is now a co-chair on Walker’s campaign to reclaim the governorship. Dimond went after Rep. Sara Rasmussen by calling her “vodka Barbie” and a “drunken sorority girl” on a Twitter thread about whether Gov. Dunleavy should get credit for clearing a backlog of rape test kits that had been shelved during the Walker administration.
The two went back and forth about the issue, with Rasmussen, who is not running for reelection but who is working on the Dunleavy for governor reelection campaign, taking the high road, while Dimond, Alaska regional manager for the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, dug himself deeper:
Eventually, the “woke police” in the Alaska Twitter hood got to him, and Dimond issued an apology of sorts, in which he said he should not have called her a “Barbie,” when he could have just called her “a drunken idiot.” He was responding to scolds from keyboard warriors Scott Kendall (designer of Ballot Measure 2), Selena Kendall, and Rep. Sara Rasmussen herself:
In July, a former member of Alaska Public Media made his opinions clear when he called Must Read Alaska founder Suzanne Downing a “cunt” on the public record. He was only repeating what other Democrats have said on the social media record.
The nastiness of social media in politics today seems as bad as it’s ever been, but it’s still August, and between the unfinished special general election for Congress and the regular general election ahead on Nov. 8, there’s still plenty of time for drunk tweeting and other anti-social social media behavior. What some politicos have not yet understood is that their Facebook posts and Twitter rantings will follow them forever.