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The Trail

Former Alaska Right to Life director will run for Mat-Su legislative seat

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: January 13, 2020
  • Published January 13, 2020

The former executive director of Alaska Right to Life has filed a letter of intent to run for the Alaska House of Representatives.

Christopher Kurka of Wasilla declared his Republican candidacy for House District 7 with a letter of intent filed Friday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard currently represents that district and said she will not run for re-election.

While Kurka has not run for state office before, he has frequently been involved in Alaska politics through his regular opposition to abortion. In 2009, he unsuccessfully sponsored a ballot measure that would have declared all fetuses people under state law. Since then, he has regularly asked legislators to make abortion illegal.

After Mike Dunleavy resigned from the Alaska Senate in 2018, Kurka was on a shortlist of candidates to replace him. That list was suggested by Alaska Republicans after then-Gov. Bill Walker and Senate Republicans could not reach agreement on a first list of candidates. Mike Shower ultimately became the replacement.

More recently, he was one of the coordinators of an effort to recall Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, from office. That movement did not gather enough signatures to force a special election.

Financial disclosure forms show Kurka and his wife, Haylee, are partners in Noble Business Services of Wasilla and a soap-making business called Heritage Alaska, and have three dependent children.

Kurka was previously a resident of Palmer in House District 9, and voter records indicate he remained registered in that district through at least July 2019. The Alaska Constitution requires prospective legislators to reside in their district at least one year before assuming office. Kurka said by phone that he did not immediately update his voter registration after moving to Wasilla last winter and will provide proof of residency to the Division of Elections.

An independent, Jamin Burton, has also filed a letter of intent for the seat.

Correction: The initial version of this article stated that Christopher Kurka is the current executive director of Alaska Right to Life. He stepped down from that position last year.