Anyone who has watched our city crumble under incompetence and scandal for the last two years knows that Anchorage needs to move on from Dave Bronson. However, we must be cautious in selecting our next mayor so that we do not accidentally elect another dangerously unqualified man.
Chris Tuck is affable and well-liked in certain circles. With an unpopular incumbent, it’s understandable some Democrats see the chance to get one of their own into office. However, Tuck is not a candidate whose actions and past reflect well on Democrats. Unfortunately, Tuck’s history indicates he cannot do the job much better than Bronson.
One of Bronson’s deficits is his proclivity for embracing fringe issues. Unfortunately, Tuck shares this defect — and then some. He’s a known conspiracy theorist who aggressively opposed federally required Real ID standards because of a paranoid, baseless claim that the plastic cards would be embedded with chips to track movements via GPS. He received national attention for a bizarre “PSA” that falsely accused the TSA of using scanners to take naked pictures of travelers and their children. And remember when Bronson broke the law by shutting down the city’s fluoride? Bad news: Tuck sponsored an effort to eliminate fluoridation because he likewise believes the misinformation that it’s harmful.
Tuck leans heavily on his time as House Majority Leader as his qualification to lead. Although his caucus was rational and bipartisan, Tuck himself acted as a partisan agent of chaos. One example involved the most significant legislative achievement in recent years — passage of Senate Bill 26. This bill created a percent-of-market-value system (“POMV”) to protect the Permanent Fund and prevent future Legislatures from overdrawing it. POMV had bipartisan support, and indeed, its passage has protected the Fund during recent years of political strife. However, I observed firsthand as Tuck obstructed this legislation against the wishes of most of his caucus. He fought tooth and nail against SB26, which only received a floor vote (and passed) once his partisan scheming failed. Tuck voted no and never explained his opposition to this critical legislation.
Finally, there’s Tuck’s lack of respect for women and their rights. He’s personally anti-abortion, and it’s his right to personally hold this belief. Unfortunately, Tuck doesn’t leave it at that — he has used his position to advocate against women’s rights. The most significant example was in 2020, when he, as a Democratic official, requested the national Democratic Party drop its support for reproductive freedom. He opposed passing any law that would enshrine the right to choose in statute and did so less than two years before Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Two additional examples of Tuck’s backward beliefs regarding women follow:
The first involves the belated resignation of the late Rep. Dean Westlake, a member of Tuck’s caucus at the time. In 2017, Westlake faced the revelation that he had impregnated a 15-year-old child while in his late 20s, as well as new accusations of sexually harassing women working as aides in the Capitol. One of the women reported his behavior to Tuck, but stated she was instructed by him to write a letter, specifically telling her to include the phrase “I am making you both aware so that you can share this with Rep. Westlake privately so no one is embarrassed or damaged.” It was her belief that Tuck did nothing with the letter, never showing it to Westlake or other legislators. I believe her.
A second collision with Tuck’s outdated, sexist attitudes occurred during a one-on-one meeting we had to discuss pending legislation. By way of greeting, Tuck asked me why I didn’t have “that hot chick” with me and expressed joking disappointment that we’d be having a meeting without “eye candy.” I promptly ended the meeting, and never figured out which member of my staff Tuck was referring to. But honestly, it doesn’t matter. I found Tuck’s “joke” unacceptable — both because he was the Majority Leader saying this in the state Capitol about women on the governor’s staff, and because he mistakenly believed that I was someone to who he could safely make such a comment to.
Although Anchorage is desperate for a new mayor, Chris Tuck is categorically unfit for the job. Whether our next mayor is a Democrat, a Republican or nonpartisan, we can do so much better than Tuck, and I hope we do.
Scott Kendall served as chief of staff under Gov. Bill Walker. He is now an attorney in private practice.
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