Tags: anchorage | alaksa | democrats | ethan berkowitz

Anchorage's Mayor Provides Real Picture of Alaska Democratic Party

the mayor speaking at a podium
Former Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz (Getty Images)

By Friday, 23 October 2020 11:58 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz was not only busy raising funds and running for reelection in 2017. He was busy engaged in a sexting relationship with a news anchor, Maria Athens, who was covering the goings-on at City Hall in Alaska's largest city for the local Fox News and CBS affiliate.

Athens is a talented news anchor, with sparkle in her eyes and an aggressive style of reportage. The camera loves her, but, as she was heard on voicemail, she once loved the mayor.

Berkowitz is a mild-mannered social justice warrior who recently spoke at a Black Lives Matter rally and complimented the crowd for being "a sea of revolutionaries." A San Francisco transplant, he was the Democrats' best chance for governor in 2022.

The two were an unlikely match.

Once Athens decided to pull the pin out of the grenade on Berkowitz, by posting a naked picture of him (a selfie she had from him in her camera) on Facebook, his career quickly tanked.

Berkowitz quickly became Alaska's Anthony Weiner.

Within four days he had resigned from office as mayor and after a long and storied political career that included being a state representative, he said he would return to private life. He was not going to answer any other questions about the relationship; instead, he would try to repair the damage done to his family.

The entire incident leaves the Alaska Democratic Party in a lurch. Berkowitz was the top of their party — their highest elected official in the state. He was also the glue that was holding the powerful Anchorage Democratic Party machine together. He was their best shot at taking out Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the incumbent Republican governor from conservative Wasilla.

The sad, sordid decline of Berkowitz is, in a nutshell, the tale of the Alaska Democratic Party, up and down the ticket. They've blown it, big time.

For the national seats of U.S. Senate and U.S. House, the Democrats didn't even run candidates under their own party flag this year.

Instead, they backed two candidates who pretend to be nonpartisans — Al Gross for Senate and Alyse Galvin for House. The Democratic Party has poured its time and treasure into these two, blocking and tackling any Democrat who dared to get in the way of the non-party candidates the Alaska Democratic Party now embraces.

In the State Senate, there are 11 seats up for election in 2020; three are occupied by incumbent Democrats (Tom Begich, Donny Olsen, Bill Wielechowski). Of the eight that are at play, the Democrats do not have candidates for six of the seats: No Democrats ran against Sen. Bert Stedman, Rob Myers, Shelley Hughes, Gary Stevens or Josh Revak.

The reputation of the party is so low that only in three races could the Democratic Party find candidates to run against Republicans for Senate — against David Wilson, Natasha Von Imhof, and Roger Holland.

The Democrats have gone nearly 30 years without winning a majority in either the State House or Senate. They've gone 22 years since they had a Democrat as governor. And at this point, Democrats only comprise 13% of the electorate in Alaska.

Now, with their main guy — Mayor Berkowitz — sidelined by his own naked selfies, the Alaska Democratic Party is rudderless, looking for a new standard-bearer at a time when it's been investing heavily into the non-party alternatives, rather than building a bench for the future.

Suzanne Downing is the publisher of Must Read Alaska and Must Read America. She is a former business owner, longtime journalist, and political adviser who worked for Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Gov. Sean Parnell of Alaska. She was raised in Juneau, Alaska and is based in Anchorage. Where she writes on current events and politics. Read Suzanne Downing's Reports — More Here.

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SuzanneDowning
The reputation of the party is so low that only in three races could the Democratic Party find candidates to run against Republicans for Senate.
anchorage, alaksa, democrats, ethan berkowitz
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2020-58-23
Friday, 23 October 2020 11:58 AM
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