J.R. Myers: Tundra Roots Coalition, An Alaskan Tale

J.R. Myers

From Alaska Constitution Party chairman J.R. Myers, submitted to IPR for publication:

What is going on in Alaska politics? Who are some of the players? What can we expect? Oil prices are dropping and are now far below State of Alaska budget predictions of over $100 a barrel. Output and actual oil flow volume have decreased precipitously in the Alaska Pipeline. Alaska relies upon oil revenue for more than 80% of its approximately $6 billion budget.

Change is in the air. In 2014 Alaskans ousted both an incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator and an incumbent Republican Governor. The winners squeeked by with thin plurality margins. Very few saw those results coming. Is a new Tundra Roots Coalition forming?

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Recreational Marijuana, a Minimum Wage Hike and Bristol Bay Forever were all passed by initiative in Alaska in 2014. The new oil tax was narrowly approved at the primary election, replacing former Governor Palin’s ACES oil tax plan, and purportedly improving the resource extraction investment climate in Alaska.

Right now we are immersed in debate about oil, taxes, budgets, marijuana, gas lines, legislative caucuses, top-two elections, the definition of marriage, posturing for 2016 elections, in short it is a battle for our future. The Legislature is trying to get used to an administration not of their choosing. There is some question about the ability of the Unity Ticket Governor’s office and The Republican controlled Legislature to work together effectively. In the midst of this, there is a well publicized defection from the majority House Caucus by Republican Representative Laura Reinbold of Eagle River. She has gained much support from coalition members, and revealed much about the legislative process.

Another major change as a result of the election. Mark Fish, Alaska Libertarian Party 2014 U.S. Senate candidate, has been appointed to the powerful Alaska Public Offices Commission or APOC by Governor Walker. He is the first of two Libertarians that will sit on that controversial body, as a result of the ALP having placed second as a party in the Governor’s race, since the Democrat’s did not have a candidate.

Alaska is an interesting mix of many people and competing interests. Our opportunities have attracted people from around the world. Our challenges have required us to develop our ability to band together to tackle projects and find the best solutions to act upon quickly in a harsh unforgiving environment. We are getting better at this.

This is a place where you may see a political party chairman from one party holding signs for a candidate of another party. Cats live with dogs here. We’ve seen bi-partisan and non-partisan independent caucuses, campaigns and candidates. Several parties may support the same candidate(s). Our politics, like our river beds, are constantly shifting and changing, merging and reforming channels. Everything isn’t always as it seems. We have sea otters and river otters. There are subtleties unique to our culture. We have three different kinds of bears. Who do you trust Eagle or Raven? Which berry is safe to eat? We each contribute our own unique flavor to the overall landscape. Nonpartisan and Undeclared are the two largest voter groups. Twelve Visions is the newest official political group with 4 members. We each have our interconnected niche on our political tundra.

Right now, in the legislature in Juneau, we are witnessing a reluctance to cut government back to sustainable levels. Instead, we are witnessing the unpleasant reality of tax increases I warned of during my campaign for Governor in 2014. Measures have now been introduced to raise gasoline taxes, institute a 15% income tax, and implement other fees. There is even serious talk to raid the Permanent Fund Dividend, PFD. Local governments are also seeking ways to enhance revenue, by various ways, rather than reduce the size of local government. Alaskans are not sitting back and taking it quietly!

Pamela Goode and James Squyres created the Facebook page Alaska HAC & SAC. It stands for Alaska House Accountability Caucus and AK Senate Accountability Caucus. It’s the in place for activists and officials to dialogue about legislation and public policy. It has become very effective with visits from many legislators. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1617128385183698/

Maria Rensel has made Youtube videos and created Fairbanks Uncensored.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Fairbanksalaskauncensored/

Others are doing whatever they can. People are pursuing their passions. It may be Life or Liberty in any of their many facets. They may or may not be ACP members or officers. They may or may not be ACP sponsored activities. The important thing is that people are waking up and getting involved. This is having an impact for liberty wherever it occurs.

See Alaskans for a Sustainable Budget. https://www.facebook.com/groups/AlaskansforaSustainableBudget/

Check out the Kenai Community Coalition on Cannabis. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1563593203857822/

Alaska Policy Forum. https://www.facebook.com/alaskapolicyforum?notif_t=fbpage_fan_invite

Many believe that government is the engine of economic growth in Alaska, and ought to remain so. There is a certain mentality among our leaders in Alaska, that the State of Alaska equates to the government of Alaska. There is a misguided sense of duty among some to preserve the unsustainable bureaucratic infrastructure built up to fantastic levels during the oil boom years.

The Republican, and to a lessor extent Democratic parties, have led Alaska into our current fiscal crisis. We have had Republican administrations for decades. They touted their conservative credentials to raise campaign funds, only to bring in consecutive record breaking deficit budgets. People are finally tired of being played like fools.

This is why we are acting together now to address those issues important to each of us. The formal party system discourages change by making electoral challenges difficult at every turn. We are using our right to free association to network and effect change towards liberty in old and new ways. The rhetoric of our coalition is now regularly heard in the halls of power in Juneau and throughout Alaska. Our ideas of Liberty are becoming dominant.

Formally, Alaskan parties may qualify as Political Parties with the right to nominate candidates by primary election if they maintain a certain number of registered voters or place a candidate in a qualified statewide race receiving 3% of the vote in the general election.

From the AK Division of Elections, total voter registration in Alaska as of 3/6/15 & 4/3/15: (441 PRECINCTS) 500,882/501,515
Political Parties:
A – Alaskan Independence Party: 15,593/15,672
D – Alaska Democratic Party: 68,988/68,976
L – Alaska Libertarian Party: 6,811/6,904
R – Alaska Republican Party: 133,582/133,662
Political Groups:
C – Alaska Constitution Party: 228/231
G – Green Party of Alaska: 1,708/1,713
T – Twelve Visions Party: 4/4
V – Veterans Party of Alaska: 1,055/1,060
Other:
N – Nonpartisan (no party affiliation): 87,296/87,368
U – Undeclared (no party declared): 185,617/185,925

Alaska has four recognized Political Parties. These are the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP), Alaska Democrat Party, Alaska Libertarian Party (ALP) and Alaska Republican Party.

Alaska also has four Political Groups. These are the Alaska Constitution Party (ACP), Alaska Green Party, Alaska Veterans Party and the newest, the Twelve Visions Party.

Additionally, there are several interest oriented groups such as the 2ATF, Alaska Republican Assembly, Tea Party, Oath Keepers, and many others. These groups often have overlapping memberships and interpersonal relationships built up over years in the trenches of grassroots activism.

We are discovering our power when we unite in issue oriented coalitions based upon our common foundational values. Yes, there is much that separates us, yet even more that unites us. It is this realization that is the catalyst for effective action. Instead of the false left/right. D/R paradigm, we generally acknowledge that the true division is individual liberty versus tyranny. We find this common foundation to be expressed in our U.S. Constitution.

While individuals often work across party and organizational lines on their own initiative. One umbrella group which is facilitating action across the constitutionist, libertarian, conservative spectrum is United for Liberty Alaska or UFLA. Currently, Michael Chambers Chairs UFLA. Michael also serves as ALP Chair.

http://www.uflalaska.com/?page_id=8

UFL MISSION STATEMENT:

“United For Liberty Alaska works together with various groups, organizations, political parties and individuals to protect each others right to life, liberty, and property. We serve as a think tank to develop, promote, and publish information and educational materials that support general interests over special interests. Â We highlight promising efforts across Alaska to incorporate these principles into law and public policies. We support candidates who embrace these goals.”

UFL VISION STATEMENT:

“Our local, state, and federal government will once again prosper when we balance our budgets, provide a sound currency, and insist that our constitutional rights are not infringed. This and the next generation will realize a higher quality of life when we have replaced government over-regulation with increased personal responsibility. We support real leaders who stand for ALL constitutional principles. We envision an awakened citizenry taking actions to enable liberty and responsibility with each other, and equality of opportunity for everyone, which reflects the very principles on which our great country was founded.”

2016 is another party qualifying year. In 2016, the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Lisa Murkowski, Republican, is up for re-election. Democrat Mark Begich may seek his return to the Senate. There is much speculation as to what prior Republican candidate, Joe Miller will do. All parties must garner at least 3% of the vote in that race in order to gain/maintain ballot access and designation as a, Political Party in Alaska. The ALP will likely run a candidate. Other parties, such as the ACP, are also looking for candidates to vet.

Alaska remains a mix of sometimes conflicting, sometimes coalescing interests. We work together with those we trust and respect in the hope that we can make a difference. Maybe our tundra roots efforts can inspire others. Only time will tell, but we already see great successes. Alaskans are having a long delayed dialogue about the proper role, size and cost of government. Word just comes that a UFL Texas has started. Also, Amy Demboski, a candidate for Mayor of Anchorage, supported by several UFL affiliates, has just made the run off as one of two top vote recipients in the Anchorage Municipal Election. She will likely face liberal Democratic Ethan Berkowitz.

Peace & Blessings, J.R. Myers

One thought on “J.R. Myers: Tundra Roots Coalition, An Alaskan Tale

  1. Cody Quirk

    Sounds like the LP is further cementing itself as the best alternative to the twin parties in Alaska.

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