OPINION: Refusal to back Bronson is a bad look for Bill Evans
Who will square off in the Anchorage mayoral runoff has been clear since the first large batch of votes were reported the day after the April 6 election, but one question remaining unanswered is whether Bill Evans meant it when he said the most important thing was to beat Assembly member Forrest Dunbar.
Evans built his campaign around the premise that he was the only one of the three candidates on the right side of the spectrum who had a chance to beat Dunbar among a liberal-leaning Anchorage electorate.
He finished ahead of Mike Robbins, who was largely competing for the same votes as front-runner Dave Bronson, but well behind the 24,537 votes garnered by the conservative favorite who topped all candidates with 33 percent of the 74,245 ballots tabulated as of April 19.
In sum, the three Republican candidates ended up with just more than half, or 50.3 percent, compared to 47.5 percent earned by the progressive candidates Dunbar, Bill Falsey and George Martinez.
That should give some hope to anybody yearning for change after a year of pandemic management malfeasance by the leftist-dominated Assembly and two mayors who have kept the city under strict lockdowns and played shell games with CARES Act funds that prioritized their ideologies above the economic relief it was intended for.
Yet while Robbins was quick to endorse Bronson, and Falsey and Martinez threw their support to Dunbar, Evans is choosing to stay on the sidelines and won’t encourage those who voted for him to back Bronson in this pivotal election for the future of Anchorage.
His refusal to endorse Bronson may be irrelevant in an environment where his voters obviously had a chance to choose Dunbar and didn’t. Still, it isn’t a good look for someone who ran his race based on the argument that conservatives should choose him over someone more aligned with them politically because defeating Dunbar trumped all else.
Evans’ silence regarding a runoff when every vote matters reads like the latest chapter in the long-running story of how Republicans who populate what can best be described as “the establishment” are often unwilling to embrace the outcome of elections that don’t favor their wing of the party.
Conservatives held their noses and voted for the likes of John McCain and Mitt Romney, who were also sold as the bipartisan, “electable” candidates. But when the GOP voters decided to ignore the establishment consensus of lovable losers and instead chose the unlikable winner Donald Trump, it sparked a revolt among the elites of the Republican Party who couldn’t get over not only being rejected, but being wrong.
Bronson didn’t run a campaign based on a socially conservative agenda that would collide with a brick wall of resistance on the Assembly. He ran on getting the economy moving again by using his powers as mayor to lift the mandates choking the life out of Anchorage.
Literally millions of dollars in commerce has been flowing for months into the Valley of the Free, which is the only place where Dunbar’s policies have been creating jobs.
Dunbar, meanwhile, is also running on a promise to get the economy going with plans he could have introduced at any time in the past year backed by seven or eight votes on the Assembly yet never did, nor did he ever vote to rescind the destructive mandates that have made economic recovery the No. 1 issue of this race.
The candidate who will do the best job of bringing back jobs and business to Anchorage will be the decisive factor for many voters.
If Evans doesn’t want to endorse Bronson as that person it can rightly be perceived as evidence that he ran a campaign that wasn’t really about beating Dunbar after all.
Andrew Jensen can be reached at [email protected].