Extreme-right Republican Rep. Christopher Kurka is entering the race for governor with a glowing endorsement from Republican-turned-Libertarian also-ran U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller.
Kurka is set to make his formal announcement this afternoon, but Miller has already set the stage for the race with an endorsement video that blasts Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy as a conservative traitor who has abandoned the base on issues like election security, the permanent fund dividend and covid-19. The video casts Kurka, who was elected in 2020, as a reliable and uncompromising conservative alternative.
Miller said he was initially hopeful Dunleavy would be strong on these issues but says he believes he’s since been cowed by “the oligarchs” and is out of touch.
“What we have today in this state, I would argue, is a much worse situation than what we’ve had over the last ten years. Governor Dunleavy had lots of opportunities. He promised it was a top opportunity. I’m looking back on it and thinking it wasn’t much of a priority at all,” he said, referring to Dunleavy’s promises on election security before turning to the PFD, “We thought we had an in the governor’s office and turns out he’s pretty much adopted the Mark Begich plan on the PFD. Really regrettable.”
The video was laced with conspiracy theories that ranged from election fraud to the accusation that some unnamed “oligarchs” have leaned on Dunleavy and scared him into submission.
“I just don’t know how we get suckered into these things… or maybe we don’t. Maybe we’re electing people who are one of us, but they get corrupted once they get into office. Maybe they’re leveraged. I mean, we see that all the time,” Miller said. “They put the oligarchs in power—well, effectively, they’re behind the scenes controlling everything—and that seems to be the way this administration has turned out. … When you confront these folks, it’s very dangerous, it’s not just dangerous for your livelihood, it can be even worse than that. They play for keeps”
Miller then goes onto sing the praises of Kurka—who has been one of the most conservative members of the Legislature following his election in 2020—as someone who’s aware of the dangers of running for office and will “stand with integrity, stand with principle and be inflexible in the face of pressure.”
“He’s not going to let those things happen that happened before under the Dunleavy administration. When he makes a promise to me, when he makes an obligation to me, I know I can take it to the bank,” Miller said. “Unusual times calls for unusual candidates.”
The race for governor includes Dunleavy, former independent Gov. Bill Walker, former Democratic Rep. Les Gara, Libertarian Billy Toien and Libertarian Roman Shevchuk. The race will be unlike any others thanks to the implementation of ranked voting that sees all candidates compete in an open primary with the top-four finishers advancing to the general election. Also new under this system is that all gubernatorial candidates running on a party label will select their running mate rather than have it selected through the primary system.
RINO vs. True Conservatives
Intraparty fighting isn’t unfamiliar territory for Kurka, who previously worked as the director for the deeply conservative Alaska Right to Life before beating former Rep. Lynn Gattis for his seat in the Republican primary. Alaska Right to Life was so conservative and apt to turn its sights on fellow Republicans as not-strong-enough-on-abortion that it largely fell out of favor with other conservatives.
Kurka and fellow extreme-right Republican Rep. David Eastman (a member of the anti-government militia group the Oath Keepers) went to battle with Anchorage-area conservatives in the 2020 election with several Anchorage-area Republicans making the trip to the Mat-Su to door knock for Eastman’s moderate-by-comparison opponent Jesse Sumner. Another anti-abortion group endorsed Sumner, attacking Eastman as an ineffective policy maker.
Eastman and Kurka both won their races and have become some of the most staunchly conservative members of the House, seizing on issues like covid-19 and state spending. At a recent covid-19 townhall, Kurka defended drawing comparisons between covid-19 health mandates and the Holocaust, calling supporters of it “extreme evil.”
“Sometimes we draw parallels to what preceded the evils that happened in Nazi Germany. And people accuse us of being salacious and hyperbolic,” he said. “But when you’re dealing with extreme evil, and when you’re dealing with authoritarian tyranny, I mean, what do you compare it to?”
Thanks to the latest round of redistricting, Kurka now shares a legislative district with Eastman. Ahead of the Alaska Redistricting Board’s approval of the final plan, Eastman accused the Republican-led mapping efforts as “The RINO Plan to Punish Conservative Legislators and Reward Republican Turncoats.”