Alaska Democratic Party
ChairpersonMike Wenstrup
House SpeakerLouise Stutes (bipartisan coalition)
House LeaderChris Tuck (bipartisan coalition)
Senate LeaderTom Begich
Headquarters2602 Fairbanks St.,
Anchorage, Alaska 99503-2428
Membership (2022)Decrease79,147[1]
IdeologyCentrism
Conservatism
Modern liberalism
Populism
Political positionCenter to center-left
National affiliation Democratic Party
Colors  Blue
Seats in the U.S. Senate
0 / 2
Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
1 / 1
Statewide Executive Offices
0 / 2
Seats in the State Senate
7 / 20
[a]
Seats in the State House of Representatives
15 / 40
[b]
Website
www.alaskademocrats.org

The Alaska Democratic Party is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in Alaska, headquartered in Anchorage.

It is one of two major parties in Alaska, alongside the Alaska Republican Party. The Democratic Party holds Alaska's at-large congressional seat, 7 out of 20 seats in the Alaska Senate, and 15 out of 40 seats in the Alaska House of Representatives, which the Democrats control through a coalition with independents and some Republicans.[2] As of 2020, there are over 75,000 registered members of the Alaska Democratic Party.[3]

History

In 1949, the Young Democrats of Alaska was established as a group.[4] Except in U.S. presidential elections, the Alaska Democratic Party was very successful in the early days of statehood and the late territory days (pre-1959), featuring such characters as territorial governor and later national senator Ernest Gruening. Gruening was one of only two senators to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized an expansion of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Bob Bartlett, also a Democrat, and erstwhile secretary of the territory, was the first senator from Alaska, and remained a senator until his death in 1968. William A. Egan, also of the Alaska Democratic Party, was elected the first governor of the State of Alaska. Until the election of governor Bill Walker, he was the only governor of Alaska of either party to have been born in Alaska. In the U.S. House meanwhile, Democrat Ralph J. Rivers was the state's first representative from statehood until 1967.

In the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Ted Kennedy, representing Senator Robert Kennedy (of New York), in the presence of Senator Gruening, gave a historic speech on the island-community of Sitka, Alaska.[5][6] Democrat Mike Gravel was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1968 and served for two terms until his defeat in the Democratic primary in 1980 (Republicans ultimately picked up the seat in the general). By the end of 1973, Gravel was the only Alaska Democrat remaining in federal office, as the state's House seat and other Senate seat had switched hands to Republicans. After Gravel left office, Democrats would not hold any seats in Alaska's congressional delegation again for almost three decades.

Notable U.S. House elections

On October 16, 1972, Alaska's incumbent Democratic congressman Nick Begich went missing in a plane crash along with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs en route to Juneau from Anchorage. In spite of this, three weeks later, Begich won re-election to his seat. However, he was later declared dead on December 29 of that year after an intensive search effort.[7] Neither Begich's body nor the plane he flew on were ever found.

In a special election held shortly thereafter in 1973, Republican Don Young (who had previously lost to the late Begich) won election to the seat and held it until his death while in office in 2022. In the special election held after Young's death, Democrat Mary Peltola won Alaska's at-large congressional seat, flipping the seat to Democrats for the first time in almost 50 years.[8]

Other recent history

The most recent Democrat to serve as Governor of Alaska was Tony Knowles, who served from 1994 to 2002, while the most recent Democrat to hold statewide executive office in Alaska was Byron Mallott, who served as Lieutenant Governor under independent governor Bill Walker from 2014 until his resignation in 2018 after a scandal.[9]

Democrat Barack Obama won the 2008 Democratic caucuses in Alaska by a margin of more than three to one over Hillary Clinton, a higher percentage than any state except Idaho. He then received 37.89 percent of the total statewide vote in the general election, losing the state to Republican John McCain, who had selected then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate. In the same election year, Democrat Mark Begich narrowly won election to the U.S. Senate over longtime Republican incumbent Ted Stevens. Begich lost re-election in 2014,[10] the same year that Democratic-endorsed independent Bill Walker defeated incumbent Republican Sean Parnell for Governor.[11]

In 2012, President Obama lost the state to Republican Mitt Romney but increased his percentage of the statewide vote to 40.81%. This was later used as evidence in a high-profile New York Times article detailing the complexity of Alaska politics and the difficulty in predicting the electability of Democrats in the state.[12] In 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump carried the state by around fifteen percentage points over Hillary Clinton. No Democrat has carried Alaska in presidential elections since 1964 when Lyndon B. Johnson had his landslide victory over Barry Goldwater.

Democrats currently control the Alaska House of Representatives in a coalition with independent Republicans,[13] while Republicans hold a supermajority in the Alaska Senate with one independent Democrat, Lyman Hoffman, caucusing with them.

Party organization

Party leadership

The leadership of the Alaska Democratic Party consists of the following individuals:[14]

Party functions

The Alaska Democratic Party performs many functions, all with the aim of helping Democrats to win elected office within the state.

These functions include:[3]

Current elected officials

Members of Congress

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

District Member Photo
At-large Mary Peltola
U.S. Representative Mary Peltola, 117th Congress.jpg

Ideology

From the Alaska Democratic Party Platform, Nome, Alaska 2014:[15]

"Platform Summary Energy, Education, and Alaska Values:

ENERGY:

Resource development:

Alaska's Constitution requires that we obtain the "maximum benefit" from resource development. Alaska Democrats support the bipartisan concept of the Owner State and will work to control our own resources.

Affordable Energy:

Delivering affordable energy to all Alaskans must be a top priority for the legislature.

Short Term:

Restore an oil production tax structure that rewards development and maximizes returns to Alaskans Support energy efficiency investments that pay for themselves; Prioritize energy investments.

Long Term:

Get natural gas to market and maximize the benefit for Alaskans; Expand renewable/alternative energy production.

EDUCATION:

Human capital is our most valuable natural resource. Investing non-renewable resource profits in our children will pay sustained dividends for Alaska.

Short Term:

Finish University of Alaska engineering facilities; Ensure classroom funding keeps pace with inflation.

Long Term:

Establish universal voluntary Pre-K; Reduce class sizes; Ensure vocational and technical training opportunities are available for all Alaska job seekers; Expand research capacity of the University of Alaska;

ALASKA VALUES:

The state legislature should support Alaska values of self-reliance, subsistence, personal privacy, government restraint, and balanced budgets.

Short Term:

Support Medicaid Expansion; Protect the Permanent Fund Dividend; Protect Alaskans' right to self-reliance; Defend Alaskans' Right to Privacy; Protect Alaskans' property from government seizure; Support active duty and veteran service members; Re-establish the Alaska Commission on the Status of Women; Protect Alaska's Constitutional language prohibiting use of public funding for private schools;

Long Term:

Expand Denali Kid Care; Equality of Voting Access for rural and urban areas; Support active duty and veteran service members; Equal pay for equal work; Expand child care assistance for working families; Support local food production; Protect Alaskans' retirement savings."

Election results

Presidential

Alaska Democratic Party presidential election results
Election Presidential Ticket Votes Vote % Electoral votes Result
1960 John F. Kennedy/Lyndon B. Johnson 29,809 49.06%
0 / 3
Won
1964 Lyndon B. Johnson/Hubert Humphrey 44,329 65.91%
3 / 3
Won
1968 Hubert Humphrey/Edmund Muskie 35,411 42.65%
0 / 3
Lost
1972 George McGovern/Sargent Shriver 32,967 34.61%
0 / 3
Lost
1976 Jimmy Carter/Walter Mondale 44,058 35.65%
0 / 3
Won
1980 Jimmy Carter/Walter Mondale 41,842 26.41%
0 / 3
Lost
1984 Walter Mondale/Geraldine Ferraro 62,007 29.87%
0 / 3
Lost
1988 Michael Dukakis/Lloyd Bentsen 72,584 36.27%
0 / 3
Lost
1992 Bill Clinton/Al Gore 78,294 30.29%
0 / 3
Won
1996 Bill Clinton/Al Gore 80,380 33.27%
0 / 3
Won
2000 Al Gore/Joe Lieberman 79,004 27.67%
0 / 3
Lost
2004 John Kerry/John Edwards 111,025 35.52%
0 / 3
Lost
2008 Barack Obama/Joe Biden 123,594 37.89%
0 / 3
Won
2012 Barack Obama/Joe Biden 122,640 40.81%
0 / 3
Won
2016 Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine 116,454 36.55%
0 / 3
Lost
2020 Joe Biden/Kamala Harris 153,778 42.77%
0 / 3
Won

Gubernatorial

Alaska Democratic Party gubernatorial election results
Election Gubernatorial candidate Votes Vote % Result
1958 William A. Egan 29,189 59.61% Won Green tickY
1962 William A. Egan 29,627 52.27% Won Green tickY
1966 William A. Egan 32,065 48.37% Lost Red XN
1970 William A. Egan 42,309 52.38% Won Green tickY
1974 William A. Egan 45,553 47.37% Lost Red XN
1978 Chancy Croft 25,656 20.22% Lost Red XN
1982 Bill Sheffield 89,918 46.12% Won Green tickY
1986 Steve Cowper 84,943 47.31% Won Green tickY
1990 Tony Knowles 60,201 30.91% Lost Red XN
1994 Tony Knowles 87,693 41.08% Won Green tickY
1998 Tony Knowles 112,879 51.27% Won Green tickY
2002 Fran Ulmer 94,216 40.70% Lost Red XN
2006 Tony Knowles 97,238 40.97% Lost Red XN
2010 Ethan Berkowitz 96,519 37.67% Lost Red XN
2014 Endorsed Bill Walker (Independent) N/A N/A Did not run
2018 Mark Begich 125,739 44.41% Lost Red XN

See also

Notes

  1. ^ One Democratic Senator, Lyman Hoffman, caucuses with the Alaska Republican Party.
  2. ^ Democrats are in the majority as part of a coalition with 2 Republican and 4 independent members.

References

  1. ^ "Alaska Division of Elections".
  2. ^ "Partisan composition of state houses". Ballotpedia.
  3. ^ a b "Alaska Democrats - What We Do". Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  4. ^ "Akyd". Archived from the original on 2016-01-13. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  5. ^ "Senator Kennedy talks to the Alaska Democratic Party about civil rights". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  6. ^ "AMRC. Steve McCutcheon Collection". vilda.alaska.edu.
  7. ^ "The Mysterious disappearance of Cessna N1812H". 15 August 2019. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  8. ^ Gedeon, Joseph (August 31, 2022). "Democrat Peltola beats Palin in Alaska special election upset". POLITICO. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
  9. ^ "The plot thickens on Mallott resignation". mustreadalaska.com. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  10. ^ "AP: Sullivan beats Begich in Alaska". POLITICO.
  11. ^ Jaime Fuller (19 November 2014). "A bipartisan 'unity ticket' actually won this year. That's rare". Washington Post.
  12. ^ "Alaska Might Be More Friendly to Democrats Than It Appears". The New York Times. 21 August 2014.
  13. ^ "Multi-partisan House Majority takes shape". alaskapublic.org. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  14. ^ "Our Leadership". Retrieved 2021-08-07.
  15. ^ "Party platform" (PDF). static1.squarespace.com. Retrieved 2021-01-16.