When it comes to Alaskan politics, Jed Whittaker is not confused. The average voter, especially with all of the purposeful miseducation, is confused. They do not understand what is going on around them or what to do about it.
Whittaker doesn't blame them. The entire American idea went out of the window decades ago. Ever since he shed his cheechako status in 1969 Ketchikan, Whittaker has haunted the political landscape with prodigious energy, usually from the far Left; or, what is called the far Left, nowadays. When Whittaker learned political science, these concepts were just called civics.
In 1996, under the banner of the Green Party, Whittaker came in second to sitting Senator Ted Stevens. That’s a formidable accomplishment.
A perennial campaigner, Whittaker spent 2016 attempting to qualify himself for Lisa Murkowski’s job. He faced a full race, with representation across the entire political spectrum. Ray Metcalfe ran as a Democrat; Margaret Stock ran Independent; Joe Miller ran Libertarian. Lisa Murkowski ran Republican.
Whittaker decided to run without a party. I didn’t know that was possible.
According to the rules, if a candidate wants to run without any party affiliation he or she submits a petition to the Division of Elections. Said petition must be signed by at least one percent of the total vote cast in the last election. In 2016, it meant Whittaker needed to find 2,834 registered voters to sign his petition in order to see his name on the November 2016 ballot.
He found 2,081. Whittaker was short 773 votes. The Division of Elections rejected the petition in August 2016, approximately 2 months before the election.
This obstacle did not stop Whittaker. He filed as a write-in candidate, then asked the court to grant an injunction against the Division’s decision to reject his petition.
Whittaker wanted his name on the ballot. He argued the barrier of 2,834 voters violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
On October 5, 2016 the Courts ruled Whittaker’s argument found a “plausible plausible claim for relief.”
The Division of Elections did not. For them, the matter was moot. 706 write-in votes were cast in the November election and Murkowski retained her seat for six more years.
Whittaker stayed in court with the Division until April 2017, five months later.
Whittaker met me for coffee at the Writer’s Block on Spenard.
Surrounded by the quiet of books and the smell of fresh espresso, he looked at home. His soft spoken manner could explore the political action for the sake of the political action. That’s the space his mind occupies.
Since his declaration last week, Whittaker is seeking to replace Don Young in the House of Representatives. For someone attempting to tackle the most dominant force in Alaskan politics, he doesn’t look like a candidate. He dresses like what he is: a Mountain View resident. Whittaker met every question concerning the mechanics of running for office with firm, but polite, resistance. His effort is being done without an email list, no Facebook presence, no radio or television ads. Nothing is being planned. In this meeting, Whittaker did not hand me one sheet of prepared campaign material.
“I know,” he said, “I’m Don Quixote.” He smiles coyly after those words leave his lips, as if he know something he’s choosing not to share. “I’m not going to win against Don Young. No one has beaten him in 45 years. He lost only one race and that was against a dead man, Nick Begich.”
“Not enough people run for office. This isn’t about winning or losing. This is about serving the people, the greater good. More people to run for office to advance a cause or idea,” he said.
Whittaker brought up Rev. Jesse Jackson’s two national runs. Jackson knew he wasn’t going to win. He ran to plant the seed of a Black man becoming President of the United States. It took a generation, however, before Barack Obama did become the first Black President. Whittaker views his efforts as similar idea implanting into the Alaskan political psyche.
When asked about how he would handle the immigration crisis caused by Trump’s public policy, Whittaker said he wanted to see Murkowski do more than issue a statement. He suggested she stand with the 43 Democrats who want to pass legislation stopping the behavior.
“Keeping kids with their parents isn’t a Republican or Democrat thing. It’s a basic human thing. Trump is way out of bounds,” Whittaker said.
When asked about the tariffs the Trump Administration is enacting, Whittaker became emphatic.
“Trade wars and tariffs are a losing proposition. American citizens will suffer higher prices because of what Trump is doing. Free trade is the way of the world. I would fault NAFTA with observing that capital should move freely across borders, but it’s not letting labor to flow freely. You should be able to go wherever the job for you is,” he answered.
As the saying goes, Alaskan politics are never boring. Whittaker is living proof of this maxim.
To contact him, call, 1-907-268-0160 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.