Mary Peltola’s High Staff Turnover: A Sign of Trouble in Alaska?

I can say that I’m not a fan of ranked-choice voting. I’m also not a fan of the Alaska Democratic Party, as I don’t think they represent the values that make Alaska, Alaska. But I get one vote, and they each get one vote. That’s how our Republic works.

Let’s take a look at Alaska’s Congressional representation, bearing in mind that Alaska is a fairly reliably red state; in 2020 the Great Land voted for Trump over Biden by 52.8 percent over 42.8 percent. In that same pre-ranked-choice year, Senator Sullivan won re-election against Democrat Al Gross by a similar margin, by 53.9 percent to 41.2 percent. Then came ranked-choice voting, which handed the state’s other Senate seat back to Lisa Murkowski and the state’s sole at-large House seat to Democrat Mary Peltola.

Alaska currently has a mixed Congressional Delegation consisting of Lisa Murkowski, a Democrat and a Republican.

It turns out that, for reasons which have not been determined with certainty, Mrs. Peltola has trouble keeping her staff.

Legistorm, a site that tracks data about the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, reports that Alaska’s Rep. Mary Peltola is the member with the fifth-highest turnover of staff out of all 435.

The 49th State’s freshman has had a rough start to his tenure in office, which began in September 2022. Peltola was elected after Congressman Don Young died in March 2022.

Some of the staff members of Congressman Young stayed with him for many years. Alex Ortiz was Young’s last chief of staff and stayed for more than 10 years. Young’s state director stayed with the company for decades.

Peltola hired Ortiz immediately to be her chief-of-staff, but he quit after only a few months. Peltola has also had at least four different state directors.

Peltola, in fact, has had more state directors than Young in the 40 years he was in office.

I know I would; if, for example, a future Congressman Nick Begich offered me a D.C. position, I would have to decline; I wouldn’t leave Alaska for that place on a bet. If a future congressman Nick Begich were to offer me a D.C. job, I’d have to decline; I wouldn’t leave Alaska on a whim.

There are also other indicators.

Peltola may have said that she was bipartisan, and she hired a few Republican employees to prove it. However, she quickly fired all of her Republican staffers.

Peltola is known for yelling at staff behind closed doors. The noise can be heard by others in the office.

Yes, screaming may also play a role. It’s not the best way to gain staff’s respect.

It is easy to say that the ranked-choice system installed Mary Peltola, against the will of Alaskans. Now, there is a major effort to repeal this ill-advised decision and return to Alaska’s traditional closed-primary general election system. (Full disclosure: My wife and I both signed the petition to support this effort. It’s easier for me to direct you to my previous article on this subject than to repeat it here. High staff turnover does not indicate a smoothly run office. And unlike the usual suspects in this case, Mrs. Peltola comes from a state that is red, where her reelection is far from certain. This is not a good sign for a re-election campaign.

Mary Peltola’s family suffered a tragedy not long ago. This can be a very traumatic experience for anyone. We feel sorry for her family. It’s been months since the incident, so our elected officials shouldn’t be held to the exact same standards as us. They have a deep responsibility to look after the needs of their constituency. It is true that the old saying “heat and kitchens” applies.

Alaska could very well decide to not send Mrs. Peltola back to the House of Representatives in 2024. Politics is a tough business, and I will do everything in my power to prevent this. The Governor is in the Trump camp. There are a lot of bumper stickers that say “F*** Joe Biden”, “TRUMP 2020” and “F*** Joe Biden”. It will all come down to voter turnout, just like with any election. Rumors about ill will from her staff will not help Mrs. Peltola.

It won’t do much harm either. The majority of people who don’t follow politics will never know about it. One would guess that we’ll need to wait until next year to learn the truth.