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Friday, January 28, 2022

Bipartisanship is Not on the Map

By Shannyn Moore

My friends, once again, Alaska is charting new waters.

The GOP-heavy redistricting board, in its zeal to break up the bipartisan coalition in charge of the Alaska Senate, has made Joe Hazelwood look like a model seaman.

Let’s see how the entire state “fetched up.”

Alaska’s Supreme Court, listing like a dinghy in 20-foot seas, decided by a 3-2 vote that we can run this year’s election on an unconstitutional map of election districts. Why? No time to do a constitutional version.

The board’s map still has one last hurdle to clear: the Department of Justice, which must agree that minority Alaskans will be fairly represented in Juneau. The feds must approve Alaska’s map because of our history of disenfranchising First Alaskans.

I know, it’s the old-fashioned way of ensuring democracy for groups who don’t have lobbyists with a bazillion dollars to spend.

I don’t see how the interim plan, now before the DOJ, can stand. It was designed to protect the interests of partisan incumbents and make it rougher on lawmakers who actually took their oath to our Constitution seriously.

So the Governor’s Redistricting Board and Division of Elections staff are moving forward to run the election on an illegal map.

This is unprecedented in Alaska history. Why the hurry?

One explanation could have come from “loose lips sink ships” Russ Millette, the recently elected Alaska Republican Party chair. The Fairbanks Daily News Miner reported him saying, “Randy Ruedrich to his credit shared this with me … he had an influence in redistricting — not just he alone, but others. …”

Millette went on to say that Ruedrich put three incumbent senators from the bipartisan Senate coalition in new districts, expecting them to become “bad memories in November.”

Oops! Millette told the truth. That had to be an awkward phone call.

Last week an industry (read oil) report card came out. Members of the bipartisan coalition received F’s. Cathy Giessel, signer of an “I won’t work with Democrats” pledge, got an A+. I had to laugh. It has become such a blatant one-issue report card — the issue being welfare for oil companies — that no one takes it seriously.

So the industry-controlled party in charge of redistricting is using the process to torpedo Democrats and punish its own incumbents simply for falling out of lockstep with the party line.

Conservative incumbent Tom Wagoner of Kenai is being challenged by a manager for Conoco Phillips. Wasilla Senator Linda Menard and Lesil McGuire of Anchorage also have challengers. Sure, everyone has a right to run and primaries are supposed to keep our parties healthy. I just hate to see folks who have put Alaska’s interest above Big Oil’s being penalized. Toe the line or else.

The Republican House has been the gas pedal for the governor’s $2 billion a year oil bailout while the Senate Majority has been the emergency brake trying to keep the state’s future economy from going off the road. No wonder the GOP-run redistricting board wants to break up the bipartisan working group.

So what do we have in the net, folks? A redistricting board that didn’t do its job, three Supreme Court justices who think unconstitutional is OK, a party leader who boasts of his gerrymandering, a bogus report card, candidates unsure about who they’re running to represent, and a Department of Justice with 60 days to decide how we’ll vote.

For all the people who bitch and moan about the feds getting involved in our affairs? Well, there’s a reason they’re involved. We Alaskans tolerate and elect folks who keep screwing things up.

Anyone who runs aground either knows better than to try to rock the boat free or figures out pretty quickly it’s a bad idea. The Supreme Court should have told the redistricting board — which was obviously trying to run out the clock — that our Constitution doesn’t have an expiration date.

“For the record, poor planning on YOUR part does NOT constitute an emergency on OURS” would have been nice. Instead, the court passed the buck to the DOJ. If we run the election under an illegal map, what’s the incentive to make any future maps legal?

Let the tide go out, assess the damage and use the old maps until the redistricting board does its job according to the law.




6 Responses to “Bipartisanship is Not on the Map”
  1. EatWildFish says:

    As the saying goes: We couldn’t do it to you without ya!

    C’mon, Alaskans, stand up for what’s right….

  2. Valley Independent says:

    Thanks, Shannyn, you are right on the money.

    This Alaskan is appalled and Wally Hickel and others who believed they should be working for the good of Alaskans, not political parties, must be rolling over in their graves.

    Unfortunately, our state is in serious danger of being taken over by the “no-compromise, ever, on anything, even if it’s good for Alaska” crowd. These folks have self-serving agendas, and cannot be swayed by facts or reason. The only thing that will keep them at bay is for Alaskans to be well informed and vote to keep them out.

  3. zyxomma says:

    Redistricting, redrawing maps, voter roll purges … it’s all become so depressingly familiar. WHY is it okay if you’re a Republican? Anyone seeking to limit he voting and other civil rights of others should hang his/her head in shame, and be forced to work for a living (rather than suckling at the teat of the taxpayers), with the proviso that the job cannot be with any corporation that contracts with government in the state (or municipality, or county, or borough, or whatever).

    Now there’s this: which explains how Gov. Scott (FL) intends to ignore the order to stop purging voter rolls. It’s awfully hard to play fair when the other side believes cheating is justified, so long as they win.

    • Pinwheel says:

      Any chance you can find that comment/reply I tried to make without realizing I needed to enter my e-mail? Good work Shannyn, Jeanne. n

  4. benlomond2 says:

    Welcome to the neo-con Republican party, where we say one thing and do the other…. William F Buckley must be rolling over in his grave….

  5. beth. says:

    What floors me is that the people who’re *supposed* to know better, think it’s just fine to just ignore all rules, regulations, and law. They seem make things up as they go along and dare anyone to challenge the manner in which they are carrying out the business of the State [AKA of *all* Alaskans]. As far as I can see, middle school Student Council members have more sense and comprehension of their mandate than, apparently, the “lawmakers” in AK do. How sad. beth.

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