A conservative group rooted in the Mat-Su area opened its campaign in support of Anchorage mayoral candidate Amy Demboski saying on social media she would "veto any homosexual ordinance."
The Alaska Republican Assembly, a Palmer organization that says it supports smaller government and lower taxes and opposes same-sex marriage, endorsed Demboski earlier this year. The group has formed a independent expenditure group, or "super PAC," that president Daniel Hamm said will raise money to help elect Demboski.
Super PACs can raise unlimited sums for or against a candidate as long as they don't coordinate their efforts with the candidate.
The group hasn't spent any money from the super PAC yet but "will likely do so soon," Hamm wrote in an email Wednesday. The group's isn't limited to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and has members in Anchorage and elsewhere in Alaska, Hamm said.
A signal of what's to come appeared late Tuesday night in a post on the group's Facebook feed. The post shows an ad with the heading "Amy Demboski for Anchorage Mayor." It calls Demboski a "fiscal & social conservative" and "family oriented."
"Amy will Protect First Amendment Rights … She Will VETO ANY Homosexual Ordinance!" the ad said. The message said it was paid for by the Alaska Republican Assembly Federal PAC, though Hamm said the group has not actually spent any money yet and is using only volunteers.
Hamm said in his email that the Facebook ad was a "work in progress" posted by a volunteer. He said it's a reference to a 2009 ordinance, vetoed by Mayor Dan Sullivan, that would have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It also references Proposition 5 that added legal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people that was overwhelmingly rejected by Anchorage voters in 2012.
Hamm said that before his group decided to get involved with the Anchorage mayoral race, they spoke to Demboski about her stance on similar ordinances that "could have unintended consequences on free speech in churches."
Demboski "indicated to us that she supported traditional marriage and family as well as free religious expression and would be against such an ordinance that could be used by government to try to force people into adopting alternative lifestyles and simultaneously suppress free speech in churches," Hamm wrote.
Asked about the ad, Demboski said she had seen it on Facebook but didn't pay much attention to it.
She distanced herself from the wording of the ad, emphasizing that her campaign is not coordinating with the group.
"Honestly, that did not come from my campaign. I had nothing to do with it," Demboski said. "I really have no comment on what they do. … We're focused on our own race."
She said that if she were mayor and an Assembly ordinance with the text of Proposition 5 arrived at her desk, she would veto it.
"I think Anchorage is a very tolerant city. I want to keep it that way," Demboski said. "I don't think anyone should be discriminated against … but I think that includes people of faith."
Across the country, some religious groups have been decrying government support of gay rights as a violation of their freedom to worship.