With the local election results streaming in Tuesday night, a troubling trend continued for the Alaska Republican Party. Candidates they backed for executive positions have now lost the races for Governor and mayor in Anchorage, Kenai Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Juneau and, barring an substantial absentee ballot comeback, the Mat-su.
According to the State of Alaska those mayoral races represent 79% of the population of the state.
That is a troubling losing streak by any standard.
These elections matter. Most of these races were for strong executive positions so their victors can lead real policy changes. The wins by Governor Walker and Mayor Berkowitz have already lead to medicaid expansion and a LGBT rights ordinance. Both are policies that conservatives hate.
Apologists will breakout a slew of excuses. From Fairbanks and Anchorage we are hearing murmurs of “We just had bad candidates.” From Mat-su we hear the chorus of “Evil unions bought the election.” In the race for governor, even a year later, we continue to hear the chant of “The media did us in.”
All of these miss the central point that in Alaska, Republicans enjoy all the advantages. Alaska is a conservative state, even Anchorage is at worst center-right. Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich (don’t fool yourself, he’s still Chairman) personally drew legislative districts that all but guarantee Republican majorities in the state house and senate. Industry groups also regularly plow enough money into election activity to easily offset anything Democrats and unions can muster.
If the Republicans can’t win marquee races around the state without the national money and talent infusion of a Begich-Sullivan race or the guaranteed legislative victories redistricting affords, not even in conservative hotbeds Kenai and Mat-Su, there is a problem.
The unavoidable truth is this: when Alaska Republicans actually have to compete for votes, win debates, and motivate people to vote, they lose.
As I see it these results collectively say at least one of these things must be true:
- Republican organization is lacking
- Democrat and union organization is just amazing
- The electorate in Alaska is shifting to the left
I’ll leave it to you to speculate in the comment section which or in what combination you think the problem might be.
Make no mistake, even though party leadership and staff will never admit it, this losing streak shows there is a problem.