We hear it over and over again in the various media: The establishment this, the establishment that. Just who is the establishment?
“Want to be part of the establishment,” Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock says, “Sign up, there’s lots of vacancies.”
New Republican Party Chairman
A Team-Builder, Uniter
“When the election is over you have to work as a team to govern.”
That’s the most important lesson that new Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock says he learned early in his political career. He says like most young people in politics he continued to be in “election mode” after his candidate won. But fortunately for him an Alaska Stateman called him to his office and gave him the advice. That person: Jay Kerttula, D-Palmer, who served in the Alaska legislature for 22 years beginning in 1961.
When discussing Babcock’s goals for the party one can see that he that he took that advice seriously and has built a reputation as a team-builder and uniter. It’s also not a surprise that Babcock, 55, a tall man with steel blue eyes whose face belies his age, has set a course for the party based on the premise of working as a team.
Babcock first came to Alaska in 1966 when his parents moved to Ketchikan. Eventually his father moved to Anchorage and worked as a college professor of social and wilderness studies. The family also lived in Bethel for a time.
But mostly Babcock grew up in Spenard and attended Steller School with liberals named of Charles Wolhforth, Mark Begich, Tom Begich and Gene Guess. He says he learned a lot of politics from “those on the liberal side.” That’s where he developing his early beliefs in “individual responsibilities and freedoms.” As if hanging around in Anchorage school with the likes of Begich weren’t enough, Babcock went on to Weslyn University where his class included 800 students voting for Jimmy Carter for President and only 35 for Ronald Reagan.
“That was a great testing ground,” Babcock says during a recent discussion at a local coffee shop. “My beliefs of a free society and individual responsibility were tested at every possible level. I had to work extra hard to live those Republican principles.”
After college Babcock returned to Alaska and began working as a legislative aid and over the years honed his work in helping recruit and retain Republicans and of course elect them to public office.
“I’m a fierce participant and advocate for our team---and I’ll recruit whenever possible,” Babcock said. He’s been successful too and can name many people whom become Republicans due to his persuasive way---Dave Donley and Jerry Mackie are two he’s proud to have converted.
Babcock became the Alaska Republican Party chairman this April. Many credit him for the party having one of the mildest conventions ever this spring in Fairbanks. Babcock ran to become chairman on the platform of growing the party, elect republicans, raising money and “having fun doing it.”
“The message of the party ought to be consistent,” he says. “Become a Republican because you believe in independent responsibility and economic freedom,” he said.
“Animosity between people exists and certainly within the party—but holding grudges for more than 20 years isn’t constructive,” he says. “I don’t operate that way.
“We know everything we disagree with members of our team,” he said, “but we need to remember we disagree more with the other side. It’s time to let the grudges go.
“Charity towards all, malice towards none,” Babcock said from a famous quote of President Abraham Lincoln.
Babcock is a stay at home Dad, or homemaker, as he identifies himself on his Facebook page. It’s a role he loves and it gives him time to focus on being party chairman. Babcock retired from Matanuska Electric Association about 2 years ago. He says he has a great relationship with his wife Kristy who runs a state farm insurance agency.
Babcock views his role as chairman as mostly educational: to educate people about the Republican party and what it means to be a Republican. He likes encouraging people to run, and to give them support when attacked.
As for the Republic party recently losing the Anchorage assembly, State legislator and Governor’s races Babcock says working to change that. He’s creating a Task Force on State and City elections.
By the time this article is out he will have selected a new Executive Director of the party for dealing with administrative issues so Babcock can focus on long-term party goals and strategic thinking, and of course, HAVING FUN while doing it!
Margaret Nelson, Editorial Committee Member