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A tale of two Joes, Miller and Vogler

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: July 6, 2016
  • Published September 8, 2010

Joe-Miller-Joe-VoglerJoe Miller, the Fairbanks lawyer who toppled Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's GOP primary, reminds us of another Joe who made a name for himself in Alaska -- Joe Vogler, the founder of the Alaska Independence Party.

The Joes grew up in Kansas. They were young men of modest means.

The Joes went to law school. They achieved success early.

The Joes came north to Alaska. They embraced the politics of less government.

One founded a political party. The other appears on the verge of taking over the Alaska chapter of a political party.

One died at the hands of a homicidal maniac. The other is very much alive, very much kicking, and possibly headed toward the U.S. Senate.

The Joes here, of course, are the late Joe Vogler of Fairbanks and the present Joe Miller of Fairbanks.

Joe Vogler -- Joseph E. -- was born April 24, 1913, on a farm outside Barnes, Kansas.

Joe Miller -- Joseph W. -- was born May 10, 1967 in Osborne, Kansas.

Both Joes grew up in the Sunflower State. Both Joes graduated high school there. Both Joes went to college on scholarship.

Joe V. was the quicker study. He was out of high school at 16 and through the University of Kansas with a law degree by the age of 21.

Joe M. was the more prestigious. He attended West Point, the Army military college which is one of America's finest institutions of higher education, and got his legal training at the Yale Law School, one of the most prestigious in the nation.

Joe V. came to Alaska in 1942, looking to get away from all those people with the socialist leanings of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Joe M. came to Alaska in 1995, looking to get away from all those people with the socialist, government-health-care leanings of Hilary Clinton.

Joe V. spent a year in Kodiak before moving to the Interior and going to work for the government. In his case, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Ladd Field in Fairbanks.

Joe M. spent a few years in Anchorage before moving to Interior Alaska and going to work for the government. In his case, as the U.S. magistrate judge in Fairbanks.

Joe V. acquired 320 acres of farm land along Farmers Loop Road near Fairbanks, but did not farm. Joe M. acquired 1,000 acres of farm land near Delta Junction on the Alaska Highway, but does not farm.

Joe V. became a political activist in Fairbanks. Joe M. became a political activist in Fairbanks.

Joe V. rose to prominence in 1973 when he began advocating Alaska secede from the United States. Joe M. rose to prominence in 2006 when he began advocating Sarah Palin, the former mayor of Wasilla, take over the Alaska Republican Party.

Joe V. founded the Alaskan Independence Party. Palin was once an Independence party sympathizer and her husband, Todd, a party member.

Joe M. is friends with the Alaska Independence-loving Palins, both of whom worked hard for his election in the Alaska Republican primary.

Joe V. ran for election in Alaska and lost. Joe M. ran for election in Alaska and lost.

Joe V. was undeterred by defeat. Though he never did win an Alaska election, he eventually became an Alaska political legend.

Joe M. was undeterred by defeat. He went from a failed bid for the state Legislature in 2004 to a seemingly hopeless bid for the U.S. Senate. He ended up beating incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowksi in the GOP primary, rattling the establishment to the core.

Joe V. disappeared in 1993 and was declared dead after convicted thief Manfried West confessed to murdering him after an illegal sale of plastic explosives went bad. Joe V. was a sometimes miner who knew how to use explosives and run bulldozer.

It is unclear at this time whether Joe M. knows how to do either.

Joe V. created an idea -- secession from the Union -- that burns on in Alaska political circles to this day.

Joe M. is promoting an idea -- the state taking over Union lands -- that sounds very similar.

There was Joe V, and there is now Joe M.

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)

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