The Tongass Democrats had the great fortune of hosting a reception last week in Juneau for the Alaska Democratic Party’s new Executive Director, Jay Parmley. Although I was traveling and unable to attend, by all accounts, it was a great success.
Juneau is used to hosting political fundraising receptions, especially in election years. But it’s not every day that Juneau gets a chance to hear from and talk with the nuts-and-bolts executive leadership of the Party personally, and people took advantage of the opportunity.
Speaking to a full house of Tongass Democrats, Jay highlighted past successes and several must-do’s.
First, Alaska was the only state in 2016 to vote for President Trump yet flip one of its State legislative bodies to Democratic leadership. Even with all the crazy hype of the national election, Alaska’s local House districts (despite extreme district gerrymandering in the 2010 redistricting) voted for moderate Alaskans driven to do the right thing: come together as a steadfast group, working with and for Alaskans, to make the tough decisions and get Alaska out of the fiscal hole we’re in.
Candidates rely on ADP
But this coalition didn’t happen overnight. On the Democratic side, it took several years of recruiting smart, caring, progressive people to run for office. It also took a lot of volunteers knocking on doors and donated dollars to help these candidates get elected. The heavy lifting of recruiting and campaigning for candidates is led by the Alaska Democratic Party.
Most people don’t just get up one day and decide to run for office. They are asked—some several times—and encouraged to run, with the guidance, support, and leadership of the Party. Most people who become candidates don’t know how to run for office. They learn how to be good candidates with the skills, knowledge and experience of Party leadership and staff.
ADP has the established structure that makes much of it happen. The message is clear: for Alaskans to elect leaders like those working together in the Alaska House Majority Coalition, we need to support the Alaska Democratic Party.
The Tongass Democrats—an adjunct (subset) of the Alaska Democratic Party representing House Districts 33 and 34—has a local structure in place that supports the Party, primarily to elect progressive candidates. In 2016 alone, the Tongass Democrats, through local fundraising, donated thousands of dollars toward national and state races. We also helped Justin Parish grow his campaign and successfully defeat a well-entrenched Republican legislator.
Deepening the bench
Second, Jay talked about the recent Anchorage school board and assembly races. Alaska’s largest city elected several moderate and progressive candidates, a critical stepping stone for Alaska to build on the growth of moderate voices that make up the current Alaska House Majority Coalition. We need to continue to elect moderates at the municipal level, to be the “bench” for state candidates to start from. The Democratic Party did a lot of the heavy lifting in the success of those progressive elections.
A fair chance in redistricting
Lastly, Jay talked about reapportionment (the redrawing of Alaska’s House Districts) in 2020, and how critical the 2018 gubernatorial election will be, since the governor appoints two of the five seats to the Alaska Redistricting Board. As Jay stated, we are not looking for a Democratic map; we are looking for a fair one.
November 2018—Alaska’s next gubernatorial election—might seem like a long way away, but the Party is already working to grow its fundraising efforts, improve its data infrastructure, better establish its field organization, and broaden its communication with Alaskans throughout the state. And it continues to talk with, encourage, recruit, and support progressive Alaskans to run for municipal, state, and national races.
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The Party’s job never stops, and we need to continue to support its efforts at all steps along the way. One of the best ways we can do that as individuals is to give financially. I encourage you to donate and/or become a monthly ADP donor.
With Jay’s wealth of experience and driven leadership, the Alaska Democratic Party will continue to grow and flourish in Alaska. If you want a more progressive Alaska, with leaders like Governor Walker, Lt. Governor Mallott, and members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition making the tough decisions, we all have to step up and help make it happen. Using the guidance and leadership of the Alaska Democratic Party, we will make it happen!
Until next week…
Chair, Tongass Democrats
Opinions in this article are those of the author and do not represent official positions of TongassDemocrats.com, the Tongass Democrats, or anyone other than the author.