The Alaska Democratic Party is keen to hold onto its grip on the Alaska House of Representatives, and securing House District 13 in Anchorage is going to be a priority for the party.
Due to redistricting, House Majority Leader Democrat Chris Tuck has been wedged into the same district as Democrat Rep. Andy Josephson; Josephson is considered by the Division of Elections to be the incumbent in the new district lines, even though he only brought a couple of precincts into the map.
Republican Kathy Henslee has also filed for the seat, and so has nonpartisan Tim Huit. With ranked choice voting, all four candidates will be on the August “pick one” primary ballot, and all four will head to the November ballot, where the ranked choice voting experiment takes place.
But with four in that race, it’s possible that either Henslee or Tuck could have an advantage over Josephson, the Democrat’s Democrat who lines up on every party issue from pro-abortion to pro-income taxes.
And there’s the rub: Tuck is not fully in line with the Democrat Party’s increasingly radical platform. He’s the rare breed of pro-life Democrats who still exist, but generally not in elected office. Josephson, on the other hand, lines up with his party on every issue from unrestricted abortion to allowing transgenders to compete in girls sports.
The district now favors the more conservative candidates, making Josephson the odd man out. With ranked choice voting, Henslee and Tuck may be the real contest, with Huit peeling off votes from both sides.
Thus, the Alaska Democratic Party apparatchiks may be torn: Do they force out Tuck due to his pro-life policies, or do they take their chances that pro-abortion Josephson can win against Henslee?
Tuck is not a stealth pro-life politician. He doesn’t hide his opinions and even signed a letter in 2020 asking the Democratic National Committee to change the party’s platform on abortion, saying it is wildly out of step with where Americans are at on the matter. The letter stated:
- We are concerned that many Democratic leaders support policies on abortion that are radically out of line with public opinion. Many Democratic leaders support abortion at any time, for any reason; this position is opposed by 79% of Americans. The 2016 Democratic Platform endorses taxpayer funding of abortion, opposed by a supermajority of the population. The same platform endorses taxpayer funding of abortion in developing countries, opposed by three-fourths of voters.
- We are concerned that, due to this wide disparity, the Democratic Party is alienating voters. In 389 out of 435 Congressional districts, a majority of voters support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. When Democratic leaders support late-term abortion, they push many voters into the arms of the Republican Party. Many people holding pro-life views are single-issue voters.
- Finally, we are concerned about the betrayal of Democratic Party values. An extreme position on abortion rights violates our commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Polling consistently shows that one in three Democrats are pro-life. We must respect and include these 21 million Democrats.
Pro-choice is the hill some or many hardline Democrats will die on this year, with the upcoming overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court. For Democrats to support a pro-life candidate like Tuck and sacrifice a pro-abortion candidate like Josephson could make this a political intrigue for the next two weeks, as the party will need to look at who has the best shot against Henslee in November.
The idea of both Tuck and Josephson staying in the race is going to be hard for Democrats to reconcile. Two of them could split the vote and hand the win to Henslee.
Candidates have until June 26 to drop their names from the Aug. 16 primary ballot.
The letter from Tuck and other pro-life Democrats to the party Platform Committee two years ago: