Last week, the Division of Elections certified the final results of the Nov. 4 election, thus closing the books on the 2014 election cycle. So it’s a good time to take stock of what happened: the GOOD, theBAD, and the UGLY. And this year, we add a new category – the UNKNOWN. Happily, in 2014, the good news dramatically outweighs the other stuff. So there’s much to be grateful for as we usher in December and prepare for the celebration of the Christ child.
1) U.S. Senate: Not surprisingly, the U.S. Senate race tops our list of good news. By defeating Mark Begich and electing Dan Sullivan, Alaska contributed to the national wave election that will soon bring a merciful end to the liberal, Democratic regime that has controlled the U.S. Senate for eight long, painful years. And, as he indicated in his responses to our survey, Sullivan supports pro-family policies across the board. We look forward to building a strong relationship with our new United States Senator.
2) Planned Parenthood’s Drained Bank Account:Dan Sullivan’s victory also represents a bitter defeat for Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. They spent gobs of money trying to convince Alaska voters, especially women, that Dan Sullivan was somehow “anti-woman” – just because he was pro-life, and just because he agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court that business owners have the same constitutionally protected religious liberty as everyone else does. Thankfully, this absurd “War on Women” propaganda fell flat on its face – not just in Alaska, but throughout the country. That dog don’t hunt anymore.
3) Improved State Senate: We celebrated two years ago when we helped bring an end to the liberal coalition that controlled the State Senate. Thankfully, in 2014 that victory was further solidified. Liberal Democrat Hollis French has retired from the Senate. His replacement will be Republican Mia Costello, who is aligned with us on many important issues.
4) Planned Parenthood Loses Again: The U.S. Senate race wasn’t Planned Parenthood’s only setback. The leader of the abortion industry spent big this year on Alaska legislative races. It was not a happy experience for them. Planned Parenthood endorsed 6 non-incumbent candidates who were running for State Senate seats. Result? 0 wins, 6 losses. In the State House, their track record was not much better: of 12 non-incumbent candidates endorsed, they had 1 win and 11 defeats (the one win being Matt Claman’s razor-thin 91-vote victory over Anand Dubey in District 21).
5) Pro-life women re-elected: Planned Parenthood’s obvious priority in the 2014 legislative races was to punish several pro-life women who voted for SB 49, the bill we helped to pass this year to stop taxpayer funding of elective abortions. Of course, most of this abortion money has been flowing into the coffers of Planned Parenthood. (Hell hath no fury like an organization that feels entitled to a government subsidy – and then has it taken away). So Planned Parenthood tried mightily to defeat the following women: Senator Cathy Giessel, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, Rep. Mia Costello, and Rep. Cathy Munoz. And once again, they failed – and all four of these ladies will be back in the Capitol come January 2015. So there really was a “War on Women” in 2014: Planned Parenthood’s war against women legislators who dared to oppose their radical agenda.
1) Wrong track in State House: Democrats picked up two seats in the House of Representatives. Because of this, the Democratic representation on standing committees in the Legislature will increase, as explained in this Alaska Dispatch article here.
Alaska Family Action is a non-partisan organization, and on occasion we’ve worked with elected Democrats to advance good public policy. But we also have to be realistic and observe that the current Democratic caucus in the State House has shown an unrelenting hostility toward virtually the entire pro-life and pro-family agenda. Case in point: the vote on Senate Bill 49 earlier this year, to end taxpayer subsidies for elective abortions. Although the bill passed by a vote of 23 to 17, not a single Democrat in the State House voted for it. The two new Democrats elected this month, Adam Wool of Fairbanks and Matt Claman from Anchorage, don’t show any sign of deviating one bit from this dreary, left-wing conformity in the Democratic tribe. We still have a Republican majority in the House, and it’s still possible for good legislation to pass. But the Nov. 4 election results certainly won’t make it any easier to accomplish good things in the State House.
1) No hope in dope: The passage of Ballot Measure 2, legalizing recreational use of marijuana, was not a huge surprise. After all, the pro-legalization campaign enjoyed an enormous financial advantage – spending about 9 dollars for every one dollar that opponents had. Yet the measure did not win by a landslide… almost 47 percent of voters said “no” to legalization.
I suspect that when some of the ill effects of legalization begin to show up in our schools, in our workplaces, and on our roads, the “love affair with weed” will come to an abrupt end. The voters have granted this new liberty; they can also take it away. Alaskans are right to resist laws that are overly intrusive, but most of us understand that some limits on personal freedom can be necessary to protect the common good of society. There are such things as speed limits, public nuisance laws, anti-trust laws, etc. – all of which recognize that one person’s notion of “freedom” can be a source of oppression or even danger to someone else. True freedom can flourish only under a system of ordered liberty, not under anarchy. One thing is for sure: the passage of Ballot Measure 2 doesn’t signify the end of the legalization debate. We’re just getting started.
1) Governor Bill Walker: You knew we weren’t going to overlook this! We took a very vocal position supporting the re-election of Governor Parnell, and we’re obviously disappointed that the Parnell-Sullivan ticket came up short on Election Day. Out of 279,498 total votes cast, the margin of victory for the Walker-Mallott ticket over the Parnell-Sullivan ticket was only6,225 votes. That works out to 14 votes per precinct. It was a close election.
The narrow margin here should make us think very carefully about the role that 3rd parties play. For example, the conservative “Alaska Constitution Party” ticket of J.R. Meyers for Governor & Maria Rensel for Lt. Gov. received 6,996 votes. If those 6,996 votes had gone to the Parnell-Sullivan ticket, the outcome of the Governor’s race would be different. The Constitution Party is pro-life, supports the traditional definition of marriage, and favors educational choice. At the risk of stating the obvious, when conservative voters are divided, we lose. When we sing from the same sheet of music, we win.
In our first announcement that we were supporting Governor Parnell’s re-election, we acknowledged that Bill Walker and his wife Donna have been long-time supporters of Alaska Family Council and Alaska Family Action. It was precisely because of that long-time support that we were both alarmed and dismayed when Walker made public comments that seemed designed to assure liberal Democrats that his traditional beliefs on issues like life and marriage wouldn’t lead to any public policy action that might give them heartburn.
For example, Walker all but promised that he would abandon the state’s appeal of an outrageous ruling by one federal judge that struck down our constitutional definition of marriage. On the issue of abortion, he promised that he would take no initiative to advance protection of the unborn (“not on my radar screen”) – which naturally compelled a response from us. We feel like words have meaning. You can’t say, “I’m pro-life” – and then say you’re disinterested in advancing any public policy proposal that would help protect the lives of the approximately 1,400 unborn children who are killed by abortion every year in Alaska.
Having said all that, Bill Walker has repeatedly said that he hasn’t changed his core values. Shortly after his controversial remarks on abortion, he told the Alaska Dispatch: “I’m still the same last week as I am this week, last year as I am this year. I gave up nothing in the way of my core values. I was not asked to give up anything.”
If that’s true, then I’m very glad to hear it. Bill Walker will be sworn in as Governor in la few days. Our approach as a pro-family advocacy group will be simple: we will give Governor Walker the benefit of the doubt. We will take his words at face value, that he has not abandoned any fundamental principle or value. In terms of our legislative goals in Juneau, we will pursue exactly the same public policies that we would have if Governor Parnell had been re-elected. And then we will form an opinion about the Walker Administration in the same way that all Alaskans will: by judging his performance. Because actions always speak louder than words.
For right now, will you please join me in praying for Bill Walker? Pray that God will give him great wisdom as he appoints people to key positions of leadership in state government. Pray that he will have a healthy and productive relationship with the state Legislature. Pray that he will seek God’s wisdom in all the controversial decisions that will land on his desk over the next four years.
Finally, pray for us at Alaska Family Action – that we may be filled with the same wisdom, and learn how to adapt to all the enormous changes in state government that will occur in the coming weeks and months.