Takeaway: Even more conservative in Alaska

Democratic minority leader Chris Tuck and House Democrat Matt Claman during Tuesday night's election returns. / Twitter photo by Travis Khachatoorian of KTUU news. Follow @ReporterTravisK
Democratic minority leader Chris Tuck and House Democrat Matt Claman during Tuesday night’s election returns at IBEW Hall in Anchorage. / Twitter photo by Travis Khachatoorian of KTUU news. Follow @ReporterTravisK


The Aug. 16 election was a bellweather event for Alaska conservatives.

Would the state drift toward the Musk-Ox Model of a Democratically controlled bipartisan House leadership, or would conservatives stand strong?

The prognosticators had their money on Governor Walker’s blue ponies. They were wrong. The mainstream media says this was an anti-incumbent result. They are also wrong.

The 3-B Team (Bill Walker, Big Labor, and Mark Begich), spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to unseat key Republicans in an attempt to turn the state blue. That did not happen. What they got were even more conservatives.

But with all the money Big Labor political action committees threw at this campaign, it was the one thing Big Labor has actually done to help the private economy this year.


By and large, the 3-B Team effort was unsuccessful, and Big Labor is having one heck of a hangover today. Let’s take a look at which way voters went, when given a choice between liberal and conservative:

George Rauscher
George Rauscher

District 9: In the much-watched race between left-leaning Rep. Jim Colver and conservative George Rauscher, voters in District 9 chose the conservative Rauscher over the “Repo-Democrat” incumbent in sheep’s clothing, Colver. The Big Labor money spent — and it was tens of thousands of dollars on this particular race — was great for the economy of District 9, but might have hurt Colver, who ended up looking bought and paid for.

David and Jennifer Eastma
David and Jennifer Eastman / from his website.

District 10: Both incumbent Rep. Wes Keller and his challenger David Eastman are well-matched conservatives. But Eastman comes out of more of a tea party tradition, thus this district is leaning even more conservative with a clear Eastman win. This would not be a win that brings comfort to Democrats, as Eastman is a keen strategist, a hard worker, studies and learns, and sticks to his guns.

District 11: DeLena Johnson and Richard Best were both solid conservatives for this valley district, and Johnson’s win continues the winning streak for Republicans. She is an experienced local politician who understands her district well and will not want to burn her popularity by aligning with the shrinking moderate outliers known as “musk oxen.”

District 14: Eagle River/Chugiak were given a choice between a very conservative incumbent and a more moderate Republican, and they chose their existing champion, Lora Reinbold, over challenger Crystal Kennedy. Again, a lean to the right, rather than tacking toward the middle.

Chris and Pam Birch
Chris and Pam Birch / from Chris’ website

District 26: Bob Lynn, the Republican incumbent, had leaned toward Big Labor support for years, and the more conservative name on the ballot, Chris Birch, was heavily favored by voters.

District 28: Jennifer Johnston, the fiscal conservative, and Ross Beiling, the social and fiscal conservative, were untouched by Big Labor in this race for the seat vacated by Rep. Mike Hawker. In this case, a better known Johnston ran on her record, and Beiling could not make the case to voters that he could do better. But both of them are probably more conservative than Hawker.

District 31: Incumbent Paul Seaton, a well-liked moderate Republican, was actually beat by the combined votes for his two more conservative challengers, Mary Beth Wythe and John Cox. Had their been just one challenger in the race, Seaton would have been in a real race, as Wythe and Cox took 51 percent of the vote.

District 38  and 40: In the governor’s attempt to unseat District 40’s Rep. Ben Nageak of Barrow, the race is too close to call, although they did chalked up a win in rural Alaska by taking out District 38’s Rep. Bob Herron. Governor Walker and the Democrats will have a more malleable Zach Fansler to work with there. But those in the know in the Bethel region say that Fansler has a lot of problems and this could prove troublesome for them.

David Wilson
David Wilson / from his website

Senate Seat D: Lynn Gattis is a conservative legislator, but David Wilson has equally conservative views. Neither was the incumbent and the 3-B Team left this race alone. Could it be that Wilson, who is backed by the even more conservative Republican Assembly, is getting even more conservative.

Natasha von Imhof / from her website
Natasha von Imhof / from her website



Senate District F: Voters had three solid conservative to choose from and they stuck with Shelley Hughes in the seat being vacated by Republican Bill Stoltze. Big Labor stayed out of this race.

Senate District L: The 3-B Team went after Rep. Craig Johnson in a big way, as he threw his name in on the last day possible for the Senate seat vacated by Lesil McGuire.

Johnson looked strong, but in the final days of the campaign, the 3-B Team was demanding that voters cast their ballot for anyone but conservative warhorse. Their literature savaged him as one of the big spenders.

That worked to an extent, but the Democrats and Big Labor backed Jeff Landfield — and ended up hurting him more than helping him in that district, which went for the more conservative choice, Natasha von Imhof. Landfield landed third, beat out by two more conservative choices.


Across the state, conservative Republicans swept to victory: Reps. Mark Neuman, Lance Pruitt, Liz Vazquez, Tammy Wilson, Dan Saddler, and Lora Reinbold. All incumbents with strong credentials; all easily won against challengers.

At the top of the ticket, there was no “throw the bums out” mood — Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkowski blew past their challengers.

Although this isn’t what is being reported by the main media venues, one final piece of good news for Republicans is the number of voters who chose the Republican ballot over the other one — it was nearly two times better for the Republicans this election, again proving that Alaska is a red state, and that the Walker effort to unseat the Republican majority failed in this round.