Today neighbors of mine, and presumably yours too, began receiving the same mailer from the Alaska Republican Party they get before every election. You know, that yellow “Apply for your absentee ballot” mail piece the GOP has been sending out forever.
Of interest to me as a watcher of local politics isn’t that the GOP sent the mailer, it’s the direct pitch to its base about why this election is important and what the choices are. That message is telling.
First off, here’s the front side of the mailer and the language included:
You can see the GOP goes straight after Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s comment that Anchorage might need to choose between more cops and snow removal to balance the budget.
Obviously, these are two of the most popular and visible services local government offers, so painting the progressive Berkowitz as forcing that choice is good politics for the GOP.
Someone, however, should point out the messaging incongruity, if not outright hypocrisy here. Since no one in the mainstream media will, I guess it falls to me.
Isn’t it the Republican establishment that’s usually telling us we need to make difficult choices in order to downsize the level of government in our lives? Now, an Anchorage mayor acknowledges that as a reality and the GOP attacks him for forcing that discussion rather just relying on increased government revenue?
It is good politics, but not exactly adults-in-the-room policy.
Here is the longer, direct message to Republicans on the inside of the mailer:
Again, we see crime and snow removal, but here posed as separate issues. The crime issue, both property crime and violent crime, is real in Anchorage and voters are feeling it. The GOP is right to raise it as an issue in these elections and no doubt will do so again in next year’s mayoral election. I, myself, would like to see them offer solutions, rather than just say crime generally is a problem, but I’ll take what I can get.
The snow removal issue feels like a mistake to me. Remember when Paul Honeman tried that against Mayor Dan Sullivan?
How did that work out for Honeman? He lost the election by the largest margin in Anchorage mayoral history — until Ethan Berkowitz destroyed Amy Demboski in 2015.
The point is, this is an issue that might work in Chicago, but not in Anchorage. I think Alaskans, at least those of us who have lived here for at least 10 years, may bitch about snow removal, but we have an internalized understanding that when it snows a lot the roads will be bad for a few days. That’s just the way things are in Alaska. As such, we don’t tend to really hold that fact against our leaders.
The other factor in the snow removal issue is it seems to be the kind of thing that only works if people are feeling it at the moment. The problem is, it hasn’t snowed in Anchorage in weeks and the roads are pretty good right now.
And the forecast looks like this:
There isn’t much snow in that forecast, so I just don’t feel like this is an issue that will really resonate when Anchorage voters head to the polls.
Perhaps more importantly than what issues are mentioned by the GOP are the ones that aren’t. What happened to the menacing problems of creepy old dudes wanting to cozy up next to your daughter in Anchorage bathrooms, or the tax cap crisis, whether or not Anchorage is a sanctuary city, oh, and let’s not forget the taxicab/Uber war? Weren’t those issues the ones various groups wanted to make this election about?
Apparently, all we’re left with, at least as far as the GOP is concerned, is snow and crime.