Primary hot seat: Anchorage’s most crowded race
Five candidates are vying for just one Anchorage seat in the state senate. Senate district L — which includes parts of Midtown, and stretches through Bayshore and the Ocean View area — is a historically red part of town, but this year there are multiple candidates on both sides of the aisle.
Three are Republicans: Craig Johnson, Natasha Von Imhoff and Jeff Landfield. Democrats Roselynn Cacy and Forrest McDonald will also square off in the polls.
Johnson is a familiar face in Juneau. He’s hoping to switch over to the Senate after more than ten years in the House, where he’s served in leadership since 2011.
“I’ll have a longer horizon of four years, and I think a lot of the things that we need to do are going to take longer,” Johnson, a Republican, said.
The Anchorage representative prides himself on blocking Gov. Bill Walker’s bill to use part of the permanent fund’s earnings to pay for the state’s annual budget.
“Standing up for the permanent fund is probably my proudest accomplishment and I think people will recognize that,” Johnson said. “We just weren’t ready to restructure the permanent fund.”
But it’s Johnson’s stance on the issue that have his opponents calling for change.
“I don’t know why you would send the same person back who created the gridlock in the first place,” said Natasha Von Imhoff (R), who’s served on the school board and for several nonprofits. Von Imhoff says her neighbors are willing to give up part of their PFD’s to help solve the state’s budget problem.
“He is misreading his constituents,” Von Imhoff said of Johnson. “I have gone door to door a lot more than he has, and I can tell you right now that many of the constituents are very worried about our future economy and the future value of our houses.”
Jeff Landfield (R), who’s also running for the seat agrees with Von Imhoff. He wants to see the legislature to pass budgets for two years at a time.
“Then the second year, instead of playing these budget games, you spend that whole session looking at the budget — structural things, reforming things,” Landfield said.
You may recognize Landfield from the Youtube video where he announced his candidacy while wearing a speedo, or from his appearance in the Mountain Men of Alaska calendar. While the calendar is not related to his campaign, Landfield says it is reflective of his personality.
“I don’t take myself too serious,” Landfield said. “I take these issues and the state very serious, but I don’t take myself too seriously.”
If elected, Landfield would become the youngest member of the Alaska Senate, by more than a decade.
“I think it’s important to send that message that you don’t have to be part of this elite donor class, or political class, to get involved in politics,” Landfield said.
Between Landfield, Von Imhoff, or Johnson – Republican voters will decide Tuesday whether to stick with the old or bring in the new.
On the other side of the aisle, Democrats Roselyn Cacy and Forrest McDonald will face off in the polls. They both agree they’d rather see an income tax, than a sales tax. When asked about his stance on using the Permanent Fund’s earnings, McDonald replied. “We need to have a more diverse conversation than just that option, we can’t just put the entire bill for this on one group of people.”
When asked the same question, Cacy said, “I think we should ask each group of constituents, whether it’s by industry or whatever, how they want to support the state.”