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This endorsement is gold

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It’s endorsement season for the Aug. 18 primary, and one of the most valuable sets of endorsements has just been given.

Rep. Laddie Shaw, who faces no opponent in his own House District 26 race, endorsed three Republican challengers of sitting Republicans.


Shaw endorsed James Kaufman instead of Rep. Jennifer Johnston for House Seat 28.

“I’m endorsing James Kaufman because he is not only a man of the highest character, but a man of integrity and honor. A man who will not only stand by his word but with an open mind and heart to his conservative values,” Shaw said.

James Kaufman won the Laddie Shaw endorsement over Jennifer Johnston.


Shaw also endorsed home builder and Mat-Su Borough Assembly member Jesse Sumner rather than Rep. David Eastman for House District 10, a conservative stronghold of Wasilla.

Although Eastman shares military service in his background with Shaw, he didn’t win the endorsement and may be in a tight race, because many voters see him as too much of an asset for Democrats.

Shaw views Sumner as a tried-and-true conservative who can work with others to get important work accomplished. Sumner is a lifelong Alaskan, born and raised in the Mat-Su.


Finally, Shaw endorsed Roger Holland, who is challenging Sen. Cathy Giessel for Senate Seat N in a hotly contested South Anchorage seat.

As for this Senate endorsement, there’s a back story involving the perceived insults made by Giessel against those who have served in the military. While being interviewed for a Senate seat last year after the death of Sen. Chris Birch, Rep. Shaw was asked by Giessel, in front of an entire interview panel, if he thought he was better than other people because he had served in the military.

Shaw is a retired Navy SEAL, a Vietnam Veteran who also served as State Director for Veterans Affairs. He has a reputation for being patriotic. Giessel later said she knew things about him that regular citizens may not know, but she did not say what those things are. Rather, she sideswiped his character in a Facebook video.

Giessel’s challenger Holland serves in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves. He deployed to the Persian Gulf as a tactical coxswain operating 25-ft machine gun boats in 2002 and 2003-2004. In 2007, he served as Chief of the Boats in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, and the Special Operations Service Ribbon.

The theme of Shaw’s endorsements is integrity. Incumbent Rep. Jennifer Johnston, who has served since 2017, helped form a caucus that put Democrats in charge of key committees and that split up the Republican caucus, leading to dysfunction in the House.

Giessel has also formed a bipartisan majority, putting a Democrat in as majority leader and leaning heavily on the counsel of Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, a Democrat.

It’s unusual for a sitting representative to endorse the challengers to incumbents in his own party — people he may have to work with if they win their primary and general election races. But perhaps Kaufman summed up the sentiment:

“It’s happened to all of us; we invest in something that turns out to be much different than what was promised. Our elected officials have not lived up to their promises. They have not walked their talk, ” Kaufman says on his campaign website.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Shaw showed us where he stood with his pro-marijuana and pro-abortion votes. I feel sorry for those who think he is a conservative.

    • I hope Kaufman and Holland and Eastman win.

  • Sumner is a known RINO who makes deals with Liberals while on the Borough Assembly. My vote will go to Eastman, a strong principled Conservative who is willing to fight the RINOs in his own party.

    • I have asked Sumner questions such as “will you support a full pfd?”, and “will you work to do away with the binding caucus?”. He refused to answer. Eastman will get my vote.

  • Voting for Eastman. Don’t care who Shaw endorsed, was not happy with Shaw’s legislative votes.

  • Mongo, Eastman represents a point of view. He may be correct or he may be incorrect, but one thing is sure, he is feckless when it comes to getting anything accomplished. Mr. Eastman is a contrarian, or at least from my point of view. I have based this opinion on what he has written not on News Sources. It turns out that politics is about getting the best possible deal, sadly Mr. Eastman is incapable of recognizing this. I suggest he write columns or books to enlighten the rest of us and leave governing to those who work for the possible.

    • The RINO/Demoncrat “Uniparty” sure don’t want Eastman around. That speaks volumes in my book. We need more Eastmans and fewer SwampCreatures in Juneau. We don’t need “deals” with the Devil; we need solid Republican/Conservatives who will stand on the rock solid principles this Nation and State were found on.

      • Chuck down another Ho-Ho followed by a Twinkie candy man.

    • Your view is practical in the short-term; however, in the long run, it is why our republic is in decline. If more of us held the principals of Eastman then we could save our country.

  • Eastman only cares about Eastman which has been apparent the past four years. Sumner is a solid conservative choice who will actually get work done in Juneau. Eastman is a party of one and will remain ineffective in Juneau.

    • “Getting work done in Juneau” those are RINO code-words for giving Liberals what they want. No thanks, Alaska has seen what that “Republican” policy has wrought upon the people.

    • You are absolutely wrong, not backing Representative Eastman. I have watched David for years standing for the Alaskan residents of this State, and I support him 101% What has gotten into you people!

    • Your comment is so ironic. Eastman’s commitment to principals is proof of his concern for his constituents. From a perspective of living in Juneau for 63-yrs I can say it is very disheartening to see how the legislature treats this man when he utters plain truth.

  • You can love or hate Eastman, but he didn’t materialize in a vacuum; he was created by RINOs and establishment republicans, and NAIVE ( if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt) long term pols who either willingly sold out conservative ideals or were duped out of them. Either way, love him or hate him, the ruling class created him. It gets harder and harder to tell people with a straight face they need to send people who will help the “majority”, or rather “the party” when those two groups routine let down those who support them in the rank and file. If more republicans were republicans after Election Day, there would be no space for the Eastmans of the political world to occupy. As it stands, there is plenty.

  • I can’t WAIT to vote against Johnston and Giessel. Nobody lies to my face and walks away from that.

    All the better that my contrarian votes go to Republicans. I would have voted for a lump of firewood to get them out of office.

  • Roger Holland is certainly getting my entire family’s vote. Queen Giessel has used the system in order to gain the throne. Now, she really believes she is royalty. But Giessel comes from a very troubled family background. Both of her parent’s: strong pro-union Democrats. An oldest sibling, Giessel is used to running the show like a tyrant. Ask any sibling whether they donated to her campaign. No!
    Giessel placed her own mother in the Pioneer Home and disallowed the other siblings to visit her. Of course, Giessel doesn’t want Alaskans to have their full PFD. But, she delights in her own pocketbook that her mother gets full treatment at the PH with all the discounts and benefits available at taxpayer’s expense. She sounds like a blue-blooded Democrat to me. Go Roger! Unseat the queen.

    • I wonder if Giessel’s siblings would make large campaign donations to Roger? I’m certain they would if asked…….

      • What’s his campaign address?

  • David Eastman, as the incumbent has proven that he won’t vote to take your PFD and he won’t join a binding caucus for position or power. He drew attention to the issue by refusing to join the binding caucus early on and as such has done us a great service. Rep. Eastman is one of two people to sponsor a bill to give pre-born babies personhood status. The Supreme Court told us in 1973 that if it is established that a fetus in a person, they’d likely readdress the issue and give them rights under the 14th Amendment. While we laud the occasional pro-life measures that pass, they ultimately don’t work because they don’t go to the root of the issue. Planned Parenthood ALWAYS sues and they usually win. They makes their biggest profit from abortion, and now are branching out to administer “sex change” hormones to minors with Medicaid reimbursement. They donate to Democrats and RINOs which is kind of a money laundering scheme. Rep. Eastman should be joined in his efforts to end the corruption, not vilified.

  • Laddie looks like one of the motorcycle gang members who attacked Billy Jack in the movie, Born Losers. I prefer my politicians to look nice and conservative, like David Eastman. You won’t see our War President looking like a Hell’s Angels imposter.

    • yeah, Laddie looks EVIL! not, but funny comparison nonetheless. Eastman isn’t capable of working with others because his ideological perceptions won’t allow for any imperfection. Also, what did this guy do in life prior to getting elected? A lifetime of experience of dealing with people is important when you are an Elected Leader. Just Saying…

      • Sumner – Home builder.

        Eastman – West Point Grad, Captain USARMY, Former Police Officer.

        I’m not saying that Eastman does a good job of playing nice with others but if dealing with people before elected is the criteria this line of argument does not weigh heavily in Jesse’s favor.

  • And all the above shows how we are split. Right or wrong -Eastman has shown his resilience. Holland -and a big fatty yes! And Kaufman will be a good replacement. I still believe in Laddie Shaw- but I also firmly believe in Eastman. Here in Fairbanks-all our people suck. Hey ho whaddya know John Coghills gotta go-vote Robb Myers, and we need McKinley and Kurber . Next time we will sweep out the rest of them.

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