As Tuesday’s primary approaches, I keep wondering whether Alaskans will line up en masse to shoot themselves in the foot.
Mind you, I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill, easy-to-trick Alaskans, but rather those who make this state what it is — or could be. The question? Will we vote to send two of disgraced former President Donald Trump’s willing handmaidens to fill a Senate and House seat in Washington, D.C.?
Kelly Tshibaka, endorsed by The Donald in a fit of pique at Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s vote to convict him at his post-Jan. 6 impeachment trial, is seeking to oust Murkowski, who has served three full terms in the Senate. Trump boorishly refers to the veteran senator as “lousy” and “garbage.”
Murkowski faces 18 challengers — including Tshibaka — in this week’s ranked-choice open primary folderol. Tshibaka, also supported by the state GOP, is hoping to be among the candidates appearing on the November general election ballot. Then, there is the lovely Sarah Palin, who fled the governor’s job after only two years and wants to edge out Democrat Mary Peltola and Republican Nick Begich III to fill the late Rep. Don Young’s seat in the House until January. She, too, has Trump’s blessing.
To any rational person, Tshibaka and Palin are two peas in a pod, emblematic of how screwed up Alaska has become. That some could for a nanosecond consider sending them to represent Alaska in Washington, D.C., is breathtaking. Either makes Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s wackadoodlery seem sane. Tshibaka is a Trump sycophant — right down to swallowing his stolen-election fantasy. Raised in Alaska, she says she left to attend Texas A&M and then Harvard Law School. She worked in Washington, D.C., for almost her entire adult life, and returned to Alaska in 2019 for a two-year stint as Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s Department of Administration commissioner. From her homeless-in-Alaska origin story — a questionable tale, at best — to her stand, or her claimed lack of one, on allowing contraceptive pills to be delivered through the mail, she raises red flags. The contraceptive contretemps is instructive.
In March, Tshibaka told supporters she would criminalize the delivery of so-called “morning after” abortion pills through the mail system. Many Alaskans depend on the mail to receive medicine. The talk was recorded and put out on Twitter by an audience member.
A guy in the audience asks, “So, then, does birth control fall underneath that same category kind of thing?”
”It would,” Tshibaka told him.
Clear enough, but her campaign claimed she was talking only about abortion pills. Then, in an Anchorage Daily News column, Tshibaka accused Murkowski of lying about what she said. The video, she says, was taken out of context, the ultimate hidey-hole for politicians caught red-handed. If none of that gives you pause, there is the odd video of Tshibaka apparently prattling on in her “spirit” language, or her saying God created government and the “Department of Fish and Wildlife Service,” or her musing about homosexuality.
Then there is Sarah Palin, a mavericky, full-blown socialist-populist. An opportunist with the chutzpah of a shark. She wanted the governor’s gig in 2006, but could not be bothered to do the work. She racked up boatloads of ethics complaints, handed out free money and almost single-handedly eviscerated the state’s oil industry, leaving Alaska a snarled mess when she bailed out two years later to become John McCain’s failed vice presidential running mate.
Since, she has been a sidelines queen, a Fox News political contributor, a nails-on-the-blackboard voice from just out of the limelight and a political kibitzer who eventually wound up on television’s “The Masked Singer” clad in a pastel pink and blue bear costume, as she howled “Baby Got Back.” Despite all that, a Vanity Fair writer’s piece appearing in the Washington Post urged “reconsideration of the narrative that surrounds her.” No. I’m not kidding.
Face it, there are many better candidates on the ballot than Tshibaka or Palin. Tossing aside Murkowski, whose experience and seniority count for something, is foolish. Yes, many of us have disagreed with some of her decisions, but at least she is rational. She may be squishy on guns and social stuff, but she has the guts to do what she thinks is right, and, as far as I know, she does not yammer in tongues. She is a lot like the late Sen. Ted Stevens, doing what she sees as best for Alaska, at times lighting up both sides of the political aisle. And Palin? She would be just more of the same ol’ Palin, but in a position to do real damage. Who needs it?
Watch your feet.
Paul Jenkins is a former Associated Press reporter, managing editor of the Anchorage Times, an editor of the Voice of the Times and former editor of the Anchorage Daily Planet.
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