Politics

Trump coming to Anchorage for rally supporting Palin, Tshibaka and Dunleavy

Former President Donald Trump will hold a rally in Anchorage on July 9 to campaign for U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin, U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who is running for reelection, according to a statement from Trump’s political organization.

Trump previously endorsed Palin, Tshibaka and Dunleavy, who are all running against other Republicans in their respective races.

The rally will take place July 9 at the Alaska Airlines Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. This will be the former president’s first rally in Alaska.

Palin, the former governor and vice presidential candidate, is making her return to Alaska politics after quitting as governor in 2009. She is running in the special U.S. House race to replace former U.S. Rep Don Young, who died in March. She will face fellow Republican Nick Begich and Democrat Mary Peltola in the special general election on Aug. 16. Trump endorsed Palin just a day after she entered the U.S. House race.

The race is the first under Alaska’s new election laws which implemented ranked choice voting and open primaries, allowing for more than one member of every party to run in a general election. The laws will also apply to the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races.

[Alaska’s U.S. House race enters a new phase with a narrowed field]

Palin, Begich and Peltola, along with other candidates, are also running in the regularly scheduled election to fill Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat for the full two-year term that begins in January. Among the other candidates is Republican Tara Sweeney, who is running as a moderate after serving in a key role in the Interior Department under Trump.

Tshibaka, who previously served as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration under Dunleavy, is running to the right of moderate Republican incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6, 2021. Trump vowed more than a year ago to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski. He endorsed Tshibaka last year, calling her “MAGA all the way.”

A representative of the Murkowski campaign declined to comment on the rally.

The U.S. Senate primary is scheduled in Aug. 16, with a general election in November. Also running in the race is Democrat Pat Chesbro and several other candidates.

Dunleavy is running for his second term as governor against several Republican challengers, along with independent former Gov. Bill Walker and Democratic former state legislator Les Gara. Trump offered Dunleavy his “complete and total endorsement” late last year only if Dunleavy refused to endorse Murkowski for reelection. Dunleavy accepted the endorsement, saying “please tell the President he has nothing to worry about.”

Dunleavy campaign spokesman Andrew Jensen said Wednesday that the campaign is “still in the process of learning details” about the rally. Jensen wouldn’t say whether Dunleavy would participate in the rally.

Alaska Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka

Tshibaka said in a statement that the rally “will be the greatest attended political event in our state’s history.”

“When President Trump endorsed me last summer, we planned this incredible rally, and now it’s just weeks away,” Tshibaka said. Trump hosted a fundraiser for Tshibaka earlier this year, but he did not personally donate to her, and her campaign paid his Mar-a-Lago club $14,500 for the event. Trump’s Save America political action committee gave Tshibaka $5,000.

Tshibaka called Murkowski’s vote to impeach Trump “inexplicable” even in a week when the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol unveiled new evidence indicating that Trump knew his supporters were armed and tried to join them in marching to the Capitol.

In a statement, Palin said “it’s a well-deserved honor” for Alaskans “to host the President on Alaskan soil.”

Begich, who is running against Palin and holds largely similar political views, said in a statement that the rally “makes for exciting political entertainment,” taking aim at Palin. He did not mention Trump in his statement.

“I wonder if Sarah will be wearing a mask, bear costume and dancing on stage?” Begich said. “When the show is over, Alaska’s challenges will remain and Alaskans will be cleaning up the mess of yet another Sarah Palin show.”

Begich voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, according to Begich campaign manager Truman Reed.

Sweeney, who is running for the two-year term in the U.S. House, responded to the rally announcement with a message to Trump and his eldest daughter. “I hope you get out beyond Anchorage to see why Alaska is the greatest state in the nation. Hello to Ivanka,” Sweeney said in a written statement. Sweeney and Ivanka Trump worked together and made a joint appearance when Sweeney served as assistant secretary of the interior for Native American affairs under Trump.

dunleavy trump

UAA spokesperson Austin Osborne said the lease agreement for the use of the Alaska Airlines Center was signed Wednesday between the university and the Save America PAC. While the rally is taking place on the campus of the public university, Osborne said the university is not hosting the event.

“The university reviews all facilities-use requests objectively through the lens of freedom of speech and other legal obligations. Freedom of speech is an important aspect of UAA’s mission,” Osborne said in a statement. “As a publicly funded university, it is UAA’s legal obligation to lease facilities and event spaces on an equal basis to parties irrespective of viewpoint or affiliation. In addition, events of this magnitude are a key revenue source for the university.”

The university projects approximately $53,000 in revenue from the lease of the facility. The rental rate was calculated based on pre-existing market value.

“No discounts were given,” Osborne said.

The rally is “entirely paid for” by the Save America PAC, according to Tshibaka spokesperson Tim Murtaugh, who previously worked for the Trump re-election campaign.

Correction: Trump is expected to deliver remarks in support of Gov. Mike Dunleavy. A previous version of the story inaccurately reported that Dunleavy would not be included in the rally.

Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The Associated Press and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

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