Anti-abortion group endorses Eastman’s challenger: ‘He isn’t an effective policy maker and legislator’

Booted from a huddle with his own caucus, Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, waits alone on the House floor on Feb. 26, 2020. (Screenshot from Gavel Alaska)

Alaska Family Action, the far-right anti-abortion political wing of Alaska Family Council, this weekend endorsed Jesse Sumner in the House District 10 Republican primary over incumbent Rep. David Eastman, arguing the infamous legislators’ self-serving antics in Juneau have failed to advance conservative priorities.

The endorsement is a scathing critique of Eastman, who was elected in 2016 and has since made headlines for being censured for suggesting women are glad to get abortions so they can get Medicaid-funded travel, violating Alaska’s ethics law, voting against the commemoration of Alaska civil rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich and several votes against legislation commemorating African Americans. None of those items, though, get mentioned in the endorsement.

Eastman’s gravest sin in the eyes of Alaska Family Action is that he hasn’t been much of a team player. Eastman’s refusal to play nice with fellow Republicans (circulating recall materials for another Republican) led to the fracturing of the Republican majority after the 2018 elections, paving the way for the formation of a bipartisan coalition in the House. He was eventually given the boot from the diminished Republican minority this year.

“Regardless of your views on Representative Eastman, it is clear he isn’t an effective policy maker and legislator. He hasn’t delivered for his constituents and he certainly hasn’t advanced our conservative values,” wrote Alaska Family Action in its endorsement posted Sunday morning. “There’s a hard truth about conservative politics: it’s easy to make a statement, but very difficult to make a real difference. Rep. Eastman excels at talking in a way that draws attention to himself, but he utterly fails at moving forward conservative policies. To actually achieve pro-family, pro-life victories, you must be able to work with other conservative legislators to get the job done. Unfortunately for all of us, Rep. Eastman has proven incapable of doing that.”

(Also, shoutout to the voters in our annual legislator rankings who correctly identified Eastman as the least-effective legislator of the bunch.)

Why it matters

Ultimately the endorsement is the latest salvo in the long-running fight on the far-right fringes of far-right conservative politics in Alaska.

Eastman has teamed up with the far-far-right anti-est-abortion group Alaska Right to Life to put several Republicans, including hard-right Republicans in the House Minority caucus, on blast as not anti-abortion enough.

The Facebook campaign put several incumbent Republicans on the defensive. Though there were many references to the infighting throughout the session, perhaps the most public was when Minority Republicans called a news conference to defend the anti-abortion credentials of Rep. Kelly Merrick—a particularly favorite target of Alaska Right to Life.

The end goal of it is, well, not entirely clear but this year has generated a particularly heated primary season for Republicans with 19 incumbent Republicans, including several far-right Republicans, facing primary challenges.

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