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We Build Alaska

The Sunday Minefield – July 7, 2024

The August 20 primary election is just over six weeks away. I hope everyone enjoyed the long Fourth of July holiday weekend! I was down in Seward with the company I co-own, Tudor Road Studios, again live streaming the Mt. Marathon Race. Elected officials and candidates took place in Fourth of July parades all over the state. Anchorage Mayor Suzanne LaFrance was officially sworn in on Monday at Town Square Park, though not without some agitators who ruined the event. An aviation event in Fairbanks was also interrupted by pro-Hamas protestors. U.S. District Court Judge Josh Kindred abruptly announced his resignation from a lifetime seat, sending shockwaves through the legal community. And a decision by the Alaska Division of Elections leaves yet another House incumbent who is running unopposed.

A friendly message and reminder to all our readers. The Landmine is made possible by myself and a team of awesome Alaskans. I recently returned from Juneau for my sixth session in a row reporting on the Legislature. We will again be providing in-depth coverage for both the primary and general elections. If you enjoy the content we provide, please consider making a one time or recurring monthly donation. You can click here to donate. We have a system that makes it super easy. We would really appreciate it. And thanks to everyone who has been supportive.

We are making another documentary – our third in a series since 2019 – about homelessness and public camping in Anchorage. If you know of any camps, or have stories about how this has affected you or your family, please message or email me at

Week in Review

Mayor Suzanne LaFrance was officially sworn in on Monday at a ceremony in Town Square Park. It was attended by several former Anchorage mayors, Assembly members, legislators, and hundreds of members of the public. Unfortunately, the event was ruined by a bunch of idiots from the Anchorage Party of Socialism and Liberation, one of whom was shouting in a large megaphone during the entire event. They even interrupted during the presentation of the Colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. Instead of dealing with the idiot on the megaphone, LaFrance allowed them to ruin her inauguration. This Landmine article goes into more detail about what happened.

Shockingly, a group of pro-Hamas protestors were permitted to shout with a megaphone during an event at Pike’s celebrating the centennial of the Noel Wein flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks. The non-political event was attended by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska), Dan Sullivan (R – Alaska), Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska), and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Dahlstrom (R – Alaska), legislators, and many members of the public. Savannah Fletcher, an independent running for the open Fairbanks Senate seat, was seen chatting with the disrupters.

I was shocked to learn that this kind of behavior was allowed in Fairbanks. I get Anchorage. I hate it but I get it. The First Amendment does not permit anyone to shout over another’s speech with a megaphone. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled on time, place, and manner restrictions on speech. I can’t believe these people were allowed to do this in Fairbanks.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Grants Pass case has finally cleared the way for cities to properly police public camping. if they choose. This comes after decades of lower court rulings that effectively prevented cities from properly dealing with public camping. This Landmine article by Anchorage attorney Lee Baxter provides more insight about what exactly the decision means.

I was sorry to miss this demonstration by Representative Ben Carpenter (R – Nikiski) in the Fourth of July parade in Kenai. That sounds like it was a lit parade.

The sudden resignation by Judge Josh Kindred shocked nearly everyone in the legal and political world in Alaska. Kindred, just 47, was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2019 to serve as one of Alaska’s three active judges. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in early 2020. There’s been rumors of some kind of scandal for the last year. The abrupt resignation to a lifetime appointment confirms there was something to the rumors. This Landmine article goes into more detail. With Kindred’s departure, two of Alaska’s three active judge spots are now vacant. Senators Sullivan and Murkowski have been unable on a replacement for Judge Burgess, who went to senior status on December 31, 2021. This could get messy with the election coming up in November.

There has still not been a word from Governor Dunleavy about whether Ethan Schutt will be re-appointed or replaced on the Permanent Fund Board of Trustees. Schutt’s term expired on July 1.

Two of the three Republicans running for the open House District 9 seat – Brandy Pennington and Lucy Bauer – signed a pledge to drop out after the primary if they finish behind one another. Lee Ellis, the other Republican running, did not sign the pledge. The fourth candidate in the race is Ky Holland, an independent. The Republicans really don’t want to rank the red!

The Alaska Division of Elections determined that Bruce Wall, an independent, is not eligible to run in House District 29. They did not say why he was denied. It’s probably due to residency. I will reach out to the Division to get an answer. This leaves Representative George Rauscher (R – Sutton) unopposed. He now joins eight other House incumbents that are running unopposed (that’s 26% of House incumbents who are running for re-election):

  • Representative Andi Story (D – Juneau)
  • Representative Rebecca Himschoot (I – Sitka)
  • Representative Sara Hannan (D – Juneau)
  • Representative Zack Fields (D – Anchorage)
  • Representative Dan Saddler (R – Eagle River)
  • Representative DeLena Johnson (R- Palmer)
  • Speaker Cathy Tilton (R – Wasilla)
  • Representative George Rauscher (R – Sutton)
  • Representative Mike Prax (R – North Pole)

This Week’s Loose Unit 

There were several candidates this week, but a few really stood out. This week’s Loose Unit is a tie between Mayor Suzanne LaFrance Governor Dunleavy. Both allowed protestors with megaphones to ruin public events.

LaFrance is arguably a bit more of a Loose Unit because it was her inauguration that she allowed to be disrupted. There were multiple APD officers on site she could have ordered to stop the person using the megaphone. But she did the opposite. She actually recognized them during her speech. Then she went and talked to them after and let them insult her. It was all caught on camera. Classic Loose Unit.

Dunleavy was at the aviation event and on stage at the event in Fairbanks. There were several Alaska State Troopers in attendance. Same thing. He could have ordered the troopers to stop the person using the megaphone. But he did not. The person was just allowed to keep doing it. I thought the Republicans were supposed to be the law and order people. Very loose. At least he did not go talk to them after and let them insult him.

If you have a nomination for this week’s Loose Unit, or if you have any political news, stories or gossip (or any old pics of politicians or public officials) please email me at

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10 days ago

I wasn’t at Pike’s, but I suspect you are inappropriately, with bias, labeling the demonstrators as “pro-Hamas.” Were there pro-Hamas posters or banners displayed? Many Americans view Netanyahu’s military strategy, the killing of such huge numbers of innocent Palestinians, especially women and children, as an avoidable tragedy. You weren’t around for Viet Nam, but the same feelings ultimately prevailed. Demonstrations at that time were not in support of communism, but against the indiscriminate killing of thousands of innocent civilians. I doubt you will find anyone who actually supports Hamas. I agree, however, that ‘crowd control’ may have been indicated.

10 days ago
Reply to  Martin

Jeff is a hack who doesn’t actually present an argument against anything those protestors say or say why Israeli actions are justified. He just slanders people he doesn’t like and uses his blog as a tabloid rag. He is no longer capable of objectively considering facts and is no better than Suzanne Downing anymore.

6 days ago
Reply to  Steve

To quote the Blue Alaskan “it’s a blog.”

7 days ago
Reply to  Martin

If you don’t think Israel has the right to exist you hate Jews. If you don’t think Israel has the right to defend themselves agaisn’t attacks coming from Gaza/Yemen/Lebanon/ Syria/Iran….you hate Jews.

Calling these Jew haters pro-Hamas is too kind.

Dan Svatass
7 days ago
Reply to  floridawoman


One can be pro-Israel and pro-Jew yet oppose Israel’s actions under Netanyehu.

Shame on you for asserting otherwise.

7 days ago
Reply to  Dan Svatass

There is noting wrong with being critical of Israeli politics…its the national sport.

There is something very full of Jew hatred saying Israel can not defend itself.

Saying Israel is performing Genocide or is an Apartheid or is full of Colonists is pure Jew hatred.

So you are defending these Jew haters because?

10 days ago

Jeff – you should get Savannah onto your podcast. Her willingness to respectfully engage with anybody (be it Palestine/Israel protesters or Barbara Haney) is commendable. She has done a lot to lower the temperature of our Borough Assembly with her non-confrontational approach. I think you would really like her if you interviewed her, and she could probably do a better job than I can of describing the advantages of elected officials taking a light-handed approach to disruptive personalities.

Dan Svatass
9 days ago

“ I thought the Republicans were supposed to be the law and order people.”
-Jeff Landfield

Jeff Landfield does not pay attention.