House District 14 (Eagle River)
This Republican primary pits incumbent Rep. Lora Reinbold against challenger and former Anchorage School Board member Crystal Kennedy. A classic tale of the establishment versus ideological purist. The twist here is the purist is the incumbent and Republican Party endorsed Reinbold while the establishment candidate is the challenger Kennedy.
If that seems weird, good, your have your proper political radar working. It is weird.
Reinbold is only party endorsed because she was cunning enough to ask for an endorsement before anyone filed to run against her. Even without anyone opposing her at the time she only received an endorsement from the Republican State Central Committee (SCC) by a one-vote margin. From those I have spoken to on the SCC the Reinbold pre-primary endorsement is viewed as a regretful learning experience that isn’t likely to happen again. Oddly, that means even though Reinbold is the party-endorsed candidate, she is not the candidate of the party establishment.
Reinbold paradoxically occupies the weakest of legislative political positions, but perhaps the strongest of electoral political positions. She steadfastly adheres to an entrenched fringe right-wing ideology to the point that even the most conservative of legislators can’t work with her. The entrenchment even led to her being kicked out of the Majority Caucus. But her unwillingness to compromise and battles against party and caucus leaders has gained her a relatively small, but rabid following on the far-right.
Kennedy now sports high-level Eagle River endorsements from former Senator Fred Dyson and Assemblywoman Debbie Ossiander and has current Republican legislators Sen. Anna Mackinnon and Rep. Dan Saddler voicing robocalls for her. She appears to be a quality candidate running a good campaign. A campaign that now has the support of the Eagle River business community and Republican Party establishment.
As we see it, Reinbold still has to be the favorite here. Her support may only be an inch wide, but it’s a mile deep. In a year where we expect to see below average voter turnout, Reinbold’s supporters will make sure they get out to vote for her, every single one of them, come hell or high water. We just don’t see Kennedy’s base showing that kind of motivation.
Republican Primary Rating: Lean Reinbold