Despite the recent actions of Attorney General Kevin Clarkson in regards to the recall campaign against Gov. Dunleavy, the most likely scenario for the ensuing court battle is that the recall campaign is probably going to win. But if the campaign goes forward and Gov. Dunleavy survives recall, what does reelection look like for the governor?
First and foremost, the governor’s team needs to look at who the Democratic Party would possibly put up against him and should strategize over their response to different potential contenders. One potential contender his team is probably keeping an eye on is Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, as he terms out as mayor in 2021 and would be a plausible candidate for the Democrats to run against the governor.
But there is another man that his team should be looking at who would give the governor a run for his money should he decide to enter the race and that man is Senator Scott Kawasaki. The first reason that Senator Kawasaki would be a formidable opponent in the mold of JFK, which is to say that Senator Kawasaki has a telegenic appeal that would work well in a statewide race. Gov. Dunleavy, on the other hand, has struggled to develop a good presence on television, especially when he is in tough interviews. The second reason is that Kawasaki is a great public speaker who has a good command of himself and connects well with audiences when he does engage in public speaking.
We saw an example of this when he ran against Pete Kelly last year and won multiple debates hands-down. At every one of those debates it was noted of how well Senator Kawasaki did in comparison to Kelly, who was the Senate President at that time. This was also true when Senator Kawasaki was in the state House if one were to go back and look at a number of House Minority press conferences in which he did a stellar job speaking to reporters. The third reason Senator Kawasaki would be a strong candidate has to do with his record in both the state House and now the state Senate in terms of the votes he has taken on the issues that have come before him. When looking into his career in public office it is clear that Senator Kawasaki is a moderate Democrat who has been very pragmatic in the way he has conducted himself in the Alaska Legislature.
That pragmatism has made him very effective and it is the reason he was consistently reelected to his House district and it is the reason he was able to defeat Pete Kelly for his Senate seat. He has a strong record supporting gun rights and he was a strong opponent of the state coming into compliance with the REAL ID Act. He was one of the leaders in the Legislature on legislation to ban the state from coming into compliance with the federal statute and has lead other fights on federal overreach issues. If he were to make a run for governor he would need a strong candidate for Lieutenant Governor to help pull votes from Gov. Dunleavy.
The best candidate for that would be Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux of Anchorage, who is the former chairwoman of the House Rules Committee. If she jumped ship and ran with Senator Kawasaki she would strengthen the ticket by helping to pull away pro-full PFD voters to his ticket. This unity ticket would be the best chance the Democratic Party would have of victory and is something the governor’s political team should be wary of.