From left: Tuckerman Babcock, Mike Dunleavy, Ben Stevens


Dermot Cole

On July 31, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said that former Sen. Ben Stevens had replaced Tuckerman Babcock as chief of staff, but Babcock would continue on the state payroll with the exalted title of “Senior Policy Adviser for Strategic Affairs.”

“I’m confident that both Ben and Tuckerman’s leadership will continue to help us carry out this administration’s goals and agenda,” Dunleavy said in a press release.

After being named chief of staff last November, Babcock had a lot to do with the mistakes and bad policy decisions that created the growing statewide recall campaign aimed at ending the Dunleavy administration. It’s not clear how much the recall had to do with Babcock’s removal, but tens of thousands of Alaskans delivered an unmistakable message to Dunleavy this week.

The former head of the Republican Party in Alaska, Babcock claimed he had asked for the demotion a month ago and was eager to keep giving policy advice on strategic affairs, earning the same salary as before, $160,000.

“I’m excited to serve as Senior Policy Adviser for Strategic Affairs,” a state press release quoted Babcock as saying.

“This is a move I requested of the governor; which allows me to concentrate on the areas I can best serve the governor’s agenda. This will be a smooth internal transition. ”

Babcock’s excitement about giving senior policy advice on strategic affairs and the Dunleavy agenda didn’t last long. Perhaps there was nothing smooth about the transition.

Three weeks after taking the demotion, Babcock wrote an odd resignation letter. He said he would be gone Aug. 30, after one month in strategic affairs. He didn’t say why, other than to claim he had decided to spend more time with his family, which is what people who are pressured to leave often say.

“My intention was to retire last December, however, you asked me to serve first as the chair of your transition team and then as your chief of staff,” he wrote. “That was a call to duty I could not decline.”

Babcock refers to quitting his state job as “retirement,” which isn’t the right word. He should have just said he was doing his part to shrink the government footprint, which is something he has talked about for decades.

Babcock had a series of state jobs in the 1980s and 1990s, enough to earn him a government pension that pays him from $10,000 to $20,000 a year.

Babcock had been a “full time parent since 2009,” before getting his state job from Dunleavy. His financial disclosure statements say that he had no income in 2017 and 2018 other than the Permanent Fund Dividend.

His wife, Kristie Babcock, reported earning between $500,000 and $1 million a year from her State Farm Insurance agency in Kenai.

In his resignation letter, Babcock praised Dunleavy for “your commitment to keeping the promises you made to Alaskans during your campaign.”

As I’ve demonstrated repeatedly in this blog over the past year, Dunleavy promised painless budget cuts as a candidate—topped by his plan to cut $200 million in imaginary state jobs.

At the start of the Dunleavy regime, Babcock began trying to rewrite the history of the Dunleavy campaign by falsely claiming that Dunleavy had promised plenty of painful budget cuts.

“He wants to do exactly what he said he would do in the campaign,” Babcock said on Jan. 6, according to an account in the Anchorage Daily News. “There are a lot of people in Alaska who aren’t going to like what he promised to do.”

Nonsense. To be exact, candidate Dunleavy promised a fiscal fantasy of no new taxes, no substantial cuts in services and bigger Permanent Fund Dividends.

But Babcock’s prediction was partially correct—there are a lot of people in Alaska who don’t like what Dunleavy has done.

Dermot Cole can be reached at

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