Anchorage Democrats issue dual endorsement in mayor’s race

The local chapter of the state’s Democratic party has endorsed Chris Tuck and Suzanne LaFrance in the Anchorage mayor’s race.

Tuck is a longtime member of the party who served as a Democrat for six terms in the Alaska Legislature, including as majority leader. LaFrance, the former chair of the Anchorage Assembly, is registered nonpartisan, though she has been endorsed by Democratic groups in the past.

The dual endorsement is not unprecedented in recent years. According to Michelle Turner, president of the Anchorage Democrats, the group backed two candidates, Cliff Groh and Lyn Franks, in the race for House District 18 in 2022, which they hoped to flip by ousting a Republican incumbent. However, that race was decided with ranked-choice ballots, unlike the traditional structure of pick-one municipal elections.

“They’re both really good candidates and they have strong track records of supporting the citizenship of Anchorage,” said Turner.

The chapter has a multi-step process for issuing endorsements, which include candidate interviews by a committee and research into past legislative positions. Under the group’s rules, independents and nonpartisan candidates are eligible for backing, in addition to registered Democrats. To win the Anchorage mayor’s race, candidates have to reach 45% of the vote among ballots cast by April 2. That rarely happens, so the top two vote-getters face off in a May runoff.

“We did have a really robust discussion, but I think that the consensus was, from the executive committee, that there’s probably gonna be a runoff,” Turner said.

In the 2021 race, Anchorage Democrats endorsed Forrest Dunbar, who went on to lose to Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson in the runoff by a narrow margin.


Tuck said he was not surprised that both he and LaFrance received the endorsement.

“The party believes that either one of us has the possibility of replacing the mayor,” Tuck said, referring to Bronson, who is running for a second term.

Tuck said that the LaFrance campaign, which has collected a number of prominent endorsements and reported significant fundraising from donors, is “hiding behind” her independent political affiliation despite her alignment with Democratic causes.

“But I’ve been upfront with people that I’m a Democrat,” Tuck said. “What makes me a true Democrat is my years of service as a Democrat.”

In an emailed statement, LaFrance emphasized her campaign’s main platforms and goal of winning the election through building a broad coalition of Anchorage voters.

“I’m not a painter, but I welcomed the support of the painters union when they endorsed me. I’m not a registered Democrat, but today I welcome the support of the Anchorage Democrats and sincerely appreciate their inclusivity and commitment to working together to make Anchorage better,” LaFrance wrote.

Several other candidates have filed for the mayor’s race and will appear before voters in the municipal election.

Ballots will be sent out to voters March 12, and can be returned by mail, at drop boxes, or in-person by April 2, the last day for in-person voting.

Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers Anchorage government, the military, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. He also helps produce the ADN's weekly politics podcast. Prior to joining the ADN, he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.