Running for Congress, Santa Claus of North Pole, Alaska, is about as liberal as they come in Alaska. To get to his political lane takes a few words: He’s an “independent, progressive, Democrat Socialist,” Claus said on Monday. “That means I’m independent.”
When it comes to abortion and the current national debate over Roe v. Wade, Claus is so dedicated to making sure he’s not a father accidentally that when he was 40 years old he got a vasectomy.
“I’m personally pro-choice,” Claus said. “Planned Parenthood offers a wide array of healthcare services,” he explained, which is where he turned when he was 40 and decided to get a vasectomy.
“If I had a uterus, I’d want it protected,” Claus said, adding that he has studied the viability of babies in utero.
Claus appeared on the Must Read Alaska Show podcast on May 9 to talk about his personal background and some of the issues that matter to him as they pertain to serving in Congress.
He was born and raised on the east coast, working in law enforcement and anti-terrorism before moving west to ski towns like Telluride, Col. and Lake Tahoe, on the California/Nevada border, where he often played Santa during seasonal gatherings at the lakeside communities. He got involved in the work of protecting children.
Claus had an epiphany while living in Tahoe. A man driving by on the road shouted out the window at him, “Santa, I love you!” and that was the turning point. He went to the county clerk’s office and began the process for changing his name from Thomas O’Connor to Santa Claus. And then he moved to North Pole, Alaska, a politically bright red community, where he has become a twice-elected member of the nonpartisan city council.
Claus is serious about running but is not accepting donations for his campaign. Any help people want to give his campaign must be independent of him, he said. That way, he will not need to file disclosures with the Federal Elections Commission. And he’s only running to finish out the term of Congressman Don Young, a term that ends in January. Young died on March 18 on his way back to Alaska. At age 75, Claus is not the oldest person in the race for Congress; that designation belongs to Emil Notti, who is 89.
Claus recognizes that he has centuries of good will built up around his name. He is a monk, aligned with the Anamchara fellowship, an Anglican religious order. As such, he has taken a vow of poverty. He preaches that love is the greatest gift, something he brings up on the show and in daily conversation with people, especially when it comes to contentious topics. Claus says he always looks for ways that people can find agreement. He and Congressman Don Young agreed on issues relating to cannabis. He uses CBD and THC edibles to help him sleep. But he also thinks access to marijuana products, which are much more powerful than they were decades ago, should be limited to people older than 27, because people’s brains are still developing through their mid-20s.
On Ballotpedia, Santa Claus describes himself this way:
“I’m an independent, progressive, democratic socialist and have an affinity for Bernie Sanders. I’m a City of North Pole Councilman and former: Alaska Public Broadcasting Commissioner, Special Assistant to the Deputy Police Commissioner of New York City, Member of FEMA’s National Defense Executive Reserve, and Director of the Terrorism Research and Communication Center. I earned my bachelors and masters degrees at New York University, where I completed my doctoral coursework in educational communication and technology.
I’m pro-union, support Medicare for All, the Child Tax Credit, student loan cancellation, lesbian, gay, and trans rights, women and children’s rights, the ADA, housing the homeless, protecting our fisheries and environment, respecting our First People’s sovereignty, funding infrastructure, especially broadband, and public broadcasting, and public health programs, and reducing water and air pollution, ending oil and gas company subsidies, strengthening our defense capabilities throughout Alaska, and collaborating with Arctic nations regarding climate change.
I’ll work across the aisle to find common ground, serving all Alaskans, especially our children. I am not soliciting or accepting campaign contributions. Legislators should legislate and not be paid to spend half of their time in office campaigning or fundraising for re-election. Please visit www.SantaClausforAlaska.com. Thank you.”