Alaska and the Weirdest House Primary Ever?

Anchorage Daily News, April 3, 2022 (With comments)

When it comes to name recognition in the free-for-all Alaska Race to succeed the late Rep. Don Young, who served 49 years, Sarah Palin is only Number Two.
[Who’s Number One? Ho ho ho . . .]

A non-MAGA red hat was among the 50 (count ‘em) thrown in the ring Friday, when Santa Claus joined the race.

The man once known as Thomas O’Connor changed his legal name in 2005 and now lives, aptly, in the city of North Pole, outside Fairbanks, where he serves on the city council. He is not affiliated with any party but describes himself as an “independent, progressive, Democratic socialist.” He also said he would not hire any staff or accept campaign donations.

[In North Pole, Alaska, Santa Claus is a bastion of blue on a city council as red as Rudolph’s nose]

Claus, 74, said Friday that he would run only for the special election to carry out the remainder of Young’s term. “I don’t like getting dressed up,” Claus said. “So I’m thinking, well, if I went to Congress, maybe I should just wear the Santa suit.”

SANTA CLAUS FOR ALASKA
@SantaClausforAK
I’m happy to announce that I’m a Candidate in the Special Election for the U.S. House of Representatives for Alaska in 2022!
I’m an independent, progressive, democratic socialist, with an affinity for Bernie Sanders, and aim to represent ALL Alaskans :-)}
http://SantaClausforAlaska.com

While his politics are different from those of Young, his unusual approach to Washington traditions would be in line with Young’s unique antics, which included once wearing a propeller-topped beanie to a congressional hearing.

The list of candidates who had already announced runs before Young’s death includes Republican businessman Nick Begich III, the grandson of Nick Begich Sr., who was elected to Alaska’s lone congressional seat in 1970 but disappeared during a 1972 flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Begich Sr. was replaced by Young in 1973.

Amid the who’s who of Alaska politicians were some everyday Alaskans throwing their name in the mix.

“My greatest qualification is that I’m a fully functional adult,” said John Callahan, an inspector general for the Alaska Air National Guard.

He filed . . . just an hour before the 5 p.m. deadline. “We’ve been sending weirdos to D.C. for 50 years, and I feel like it’s just time we sent a normal person.”

[Weirdos?? Is that really fair to Santa?]

. . . The race also includes some candidates who don’t even live in Alaska. Two men from California and one from Montana are among the candidates. The U.S. Constitution, which sets the requirements for serving in the House, requires that elected members of the House live in the state they represent, but it does not require candidates to do so.

[The candidate roster even includes one whose name is, frankly, Gross. Al Gross, an orthopedic surgeon. But imagine a bumper sticker: “Vote Gross.” Needs some work. Don’t quit your day job, Al.]

With a candidate list so long, politicos across the state were struggling to capture the uniqueness of the race ahead. The election will be Alaska’s first after voters in 2020 adopted a citizens initiative under which the outcome of statewide races will be decided through ranked-choice voting. . . .

“I believe we might be looking for the superlative: wildest. The most wild,” said Joelle Hall, president of the Alaska AFL-CIO and its former political director.

Hall speculated that with so many candidates in the race, it will be almost impossible to predict how many votes will be needed to advance from the primary to the general election. . . .

The huge number of candidates combined with the brief 2.5-month window for campaigning make the primary something of a popularity contest, said Democratic former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

Everyone registered in the state’s voter rolls by May 12 will receive a ballot in the mail. . . .

When it comes, the ballot will be a hefty one, with candidates listed alphabetically by last name, A-Z.

. . .The four candidates who receive the most votes will advance to the Aug. 16 statewide primary, where a winner will be chosen by ranked-choice voting.

Well, why not? If you’ve got Sarah the Mama Grizzly versus Santa as a friend of Bernie, and 48 more, bring the popcorn & enjoy the show.

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