GOP offers new Mat-Su names, Dems blast Braund response
The head of the Alaska Democratic Party released a fiery response to state Republicans’ handling of Mat-Su Senate nominee Tom Braund, who withdrew his name the day after explosive Facebook posts in his past made news.
The Alaska Democratic Party’s chair, Jay Parmley, openly called out Alaska Republican Party chair Tuckerman Babcock. Parmley questioned Babcock’s responses to Braund being selected by Gov. Bill Walker to fill the District E state Senate seat, vacated when Sen. Mike Dunleavy stepped down to challenge Walker.
Republican senators had refused to confirm Walker’s original pick, Randall Kowalke, because he wasn’t on a list of three candidates submitted to Walker by Mat-Su Republicans. When Walker selected Braund off the list Wednesday, however, reporters quickly discovered Facebook posts by Braund calling for “abortionists” to be murdered with scissors and claiming he remembered life in the womb.
Babcock said Friday night that the party had submitted additional candidates’ names to Walker, for consideration alongside Stop Valley Thieves Facebook group founder Vicki Wallner.
The new names include Alaska Right to Life executive director Christopher Kurka of Palmer and FedEx pilot Mike Showers of Wasilla, a former commander of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s 90th Fighter Squadron.
Babcock also asked that Walker provide “additional consideration” for Doyle Holmes, House District 10’s committee chair and owner of Willow Hardware, Grocery and Service.
He said state Republicans remained “solidly supportive” of state Rep. George Rauscher and teacher Todd Smoldon, whose names were originally submitted alongside Braund’s but Walker has said he will no longer consider.
On Friday, Parmley opened his statement on Braund by claiming that "The definition of hypocrisy is the Alaska Republican Party." He then juxtaposed Babcock telling the Associated Press he was “shocked” by Walker’s selection of Braund with a review of Braund’s social-media posts, including one favorably comparing dogs to wives.
“Hey Tuckerman, we were shocked too after we got to know your hand-picked choice,” Parmley wrote. “Tuckerman, the governor gave you what you wanted and you couldn't handle it.”
Although Braund withdrew of his name Thursday, saying he is the primary provider to a close friend, Parmley said that his decision “doesn’t give Alaska Republicans a pass.”
“No matter Tuckerman Babcock's high-pitched rhetoric, here's the bottom line: Alaska Republicans picked and fought for Tom Braund,” Parmley wrote. “This is their brand.”
Babcock didn’t address the Democrats’ comments Friday night.
Parmley and the Alaska Democrats have previously been under fire for their vetting of legislative nominees, in the wake of Dean Westlake's resignation from his House seat after he impregnated a 16-year-old girl. In December, Parmley said state Democrats neither review candidates' court records nor have an obligation to do so.
Emily Carlson and Scott Jensen contributed information to this story.
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