Welcome to The Midnight Sun’s 2019 “mid-session” ranking of legislators, the most scientifically accurate crowdsourced and totally not biased ranking of Alaska’s current class of legislators.
Thanks to everyone who participated.
Check out last year’s rankings here: The Good, the Bad and, wait, Who? The Midnight Sun’s 2018 rankings of Alaska’s legislators
For those asking, we’ll put out a full set of the ratings in the next week.
Notes about the survey and ratings
We received a total of 146 responses to a survey that was sent to select political insiders and through last week’s Friday in the Sun. We asked respondents to rate the ethics, intelligence and effectiveness of legislators they were familiar with on a 1 to 5 scale, encouraging respondents to skip over legislators they didn’t recognize. The survey only made reference to whether or not the legislator was a senator or a representative. We omitted a legislator’s district and party affiliation to dissuade people from getting overly partisan.
The most-improved House district is House District 34, which went from the lowest-rated Democratic representative in Justin Parish to Rep. Andi Story, with a rating that’s 1.5 points above last year’s. Story was rated 3.5 while Parish sat at 1.9.
The most-improved individual legislator is North Pole Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson, who made the leap from fringe minority Republican to bipartisan co-chair of the House Finance Committee. Her rating leapt up 1.1 points from a middle-of-the-road 2.3 to a respectable 3.5.
Homer House District 31 saw the biggest drop in its representation from a 3.3-rated Rep. Paul Seaton to 1.9-rated Rep. Sarah Vance, whose most notable accomplishment so far has been dragging high school students in a poorly thought out video.
Most districts that changed hands saw dips in their legislators’ ranking, except for the Juneau House and Senate districts. All saw a bump in ratings over their predecessors.
Overall rating: 4.18
You guys are all really boring. House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, once again topped the charts this year with a higher overall rating than last year’s ranking of 3.88. After managing to hold onto the speaker’s gavel for a second term, the newly minted independent is also the first legislator with a rating to break the 4.0 mark.
Suggested nicknames: “Mr. Edge,” “Kingfish,” and Bryce “How am I still speaker?” Edgmon.
Overall rating: 3.95
Mr. Bert “Bert Locker” Stedman climbed the rankings from last year’s, going from the 11th most popular legislator to the second most popular legislator. The seafaring Southeast senator is back at the helm of the Senate Finance Committee charting the course of the state’s operating budget and doing what he can to preserve his dear marine highway.
Suggested nicknames: Multiple variations on “Steadyman,” “Studman,” “Otter-B-Gone” and “The Boss.”
Overall rating: 3.93
Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, made a decent jump in the rankings, moving from the 9th best rated legislator to the third. As the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the soft-spoken Claman has been quietly defending criminal justice reform from a full-scale rollback while also shepherding on more reasonable updates.
Overall rating: 3.86
Already a familiar face in the Legislature, it’s only natural that one of the most-liked legislative aides became one of the most-liked legislators. Sen. Jesse Kiehl is the highest-rated new legislator making a debut as the fourth-highest rated.
Suggested nicknames: “The Professor,” “The Shire’s Favorite Son,” “No Deal Kiehl,” and “Jesse Kiehls us with his puns.”
Overall rating: 3.8
The Anchorage Republican took the helm of the Senate this year, running a tight ship just as she did when she was in charge of the Senate Resources Committee. Despite what people may say about her behind her back, she’s earned high rankings across the board.
Suggested nicknames: “Iron Lady,” “The Gavel-nator,” “Nurse Ratched,” “Nurse Diesel,” and “The Punisher.”
Overall rating: 3.77
The Senate Finance Committee’s co-chairs ranked high last year and this year is no different. The South Anchorage senator got high ranks and is the most approved among the top 12 most popular legislators.
Suggested nicknames: “Blueblood,” “Sally Spreadsheet,” and “von Moneybags.”
Overall rating: 3.76
Of the legislators appearing in the top 12, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz saw the biggest drop in ratings after last year’s second-place finish. It’s likely that her decision to air anonymous allegations of sexual harassment on the House floor are a big factor in the drop, but don’t let that define her session. She’s been a big-time critic of the privatization of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, helping shine light on a suspect process.
Suggested nicknames: “Ivy League,” “Poison Ivy,” “Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove,” and “Wait, I thought that was Rep. Merrick.”
Overall rating: 3.67
A year and an election after her appointment to the Legislature, Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky has brought a fresh and incredibly important voice to the Alaska Legislature. She’s also commanding an excellent platform in the newly formed Special Committee on Tribal Affairs, but has found time to also delve into the issues surrounding API.
Suggested nicknames: “The Bethel Boss,” “T-Zazzle,” “True Blue” and “Badass.”
Overall rating: 3.66
It’s hard not to like the mild-mannered, labor-friendly Sen. Click Bishop. With his PFD education raffle pulling in more than $1 million, he’s also the only legislator to successfully pass some kind of new revenue in recent years.
Suggested nicknames: “Bolo Bishop,” “Clack,” “Tonka Truck” and “Clickbait.”
Overall rating: 3.64
Suggested nicknames: “Ketchikan Dan,” “The Man,” “Ketchup-tucky,” and “Diamond Dan.”
Overall rating: 3.63
Suggested nicknames: “Chuck the Kopp,” “Keystone Kopp,” “I’m not Knopp!” and “Captain K.”
Overall rating: 3.63
Suggested nicknames: “Raggedy Andy,” “I forgot why I’m talking,” “Anodyne Andy,” and “I <3 Wolves.”
Overall rating: 1.5
Rep. David Eastman is still at the bottom of our legislator rankings, precisely where he was last year. The Wasilla Republican is still causing plenty of headaches for his colleagues.
Suggested nicknames: “Leastman,” “PornSnub,” “Neastman,” “Doesn’t play well with others.”
Overall rating: 1.78
Sen. David Wilson is still second from the bottom, though he showed an ever-so-slight improvement over last year. It wasn’t enough to climb up the popularity charts, which is a real slap in the face.
Suggested nicknames: “Slappy.”
Overall rating: 1.87
Rep. Sarah Vance debuted as the lowest rated new legislator after beating out the well-liked Vitamin D-loving Rep. Paul Seaton. She’s made headlines so far for dragging high school students over their letter-writing abilities, but she’s also shown some capacity for empathy in other cases. Not a great start, but there’s plenty of room to improve.
Suggested nicknames: “I Represent All Those Who Voted For Me, I Don’t Know The Rest Of You,” “Single-term Sarah,” “High School Heckler,” “Sarah ‘Ivy’ Vance,” and “That’s REPRESENTATIVE VANCE to you.”
Overall rating: 1.91
We haven’t heard quite as much from Sen. Lora Reinbold since she’s moved over to the Senate, but at least her ghost-hunting tear-down was fun.
Suggested nicknames: “Ghostbuster,” “Better than Eastman,” and “Glenn Highway Cougar.”
Overall rating: 1.98
After making a surprisingly moderate debut, Rep. Ben Carpenter has fallen back into the Eastman-esque antics people were expecting with right-wing diatribes about the free market and fiscal responsibility.
Suggested nicknames: “Buzzsaw,” “Babblin’ Ben,” and “The Chair.”
And, wait, who?
The following legislators are the ones most skipped over in the survey. In descending amount of “who-ness:”
Overall rating: 2.5
Suggested nicknames: “Farm-killing Kelly” and “Who?”
Overall rating: 3.36
Suggested nicknames: “???,” “Red Dawg,” and “King of the North.”
Overall rating: 3.67
Overall rating: 3.26
Suggested nicknames: “?,” “Budkins,” and “Rookie of the Year.”
Overall rating: 3.52
Suggested nicknames: “Story Time” and “Who?”