Babcock enters state Senate race

Babcock will challenge incumbent Peter Micciche for the seat containing Kenai and Soldotna

Soldotna resident Tuckerman Babcock is running for the central peninsula’s state Senate seat. The former chief of staff to Gov. Mike Dunleavy filed his intent to run Tuesday morning and will challenge incumbent Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, who has held the seat since 2013 and currently serves as Senate president.

Babcock, who has lived in Alaska since 1960, excluding his time in college, has also held multiple positions within the Republican Party of Alaska, including state party chair.

He traces his passion for civic affairs back to his time at Steller Secondary School in Anchorage, which he described as requiring strong self-motivation, and where he was friends and classmates with State Sen. Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, who also serves as the Senate minority leader.

Babcock’s first job out of high school was clerking for the Alaska Division of Elections.

“I’ve just always been interested in self-government and how the system works,” Babcock said.

Babcock attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, before later transferring to Lewis and Clark in Portland, Oregon. When he returned to Alaska after graduating from college, Babcock worked in the Alaska Legislature and on political campaigns. Those years of service reinforced his passion for government, he said.

“What I found over time, was that what I enjoyed doing the most was encouraging new people to get involved talking about how the system worked (and) how to be effective in government,” Babcock said. “I’m just so deeply appreciative of the miracle of self-government. It really isn’t that common in human history and it’s something that has to be preserved by people being active and participating in it.”

Babcock said one of the key issues that motivated him to run for state Senate is Alaska’s fiscal uncertainty and said he hopes to bring a background of experience and skills that can address legislative gridlock. Lawmakers and Dunleavy have previously said the goal of the session currently underway is to help steady Alaska’s financial future.

Dunleavy has proposed a 50-50 plan for Permanent Fund dividend payments, under which Permanent Fund earnings would be divided equally between dividend payments and state services.

“In looking at the logjams in Juneau and the inability to craft a compromise that will put the budget on some sort of sustainable path and put the dividend … on a path where it doesn’t become the primary football in every legislative session,” Babcock said.

Babcock said he’d work toward “complete adherence” to a statutory PFD, but said that state statute can be changed. He has additional interest in talk of a state constitutional convention, which he said he sees as an opportunity to refine the role of courts and the judiciary in Alaska.

“If you look back on the last four or five years, the courts really don’t know what their role is and they continue to expand,” Babcock said. “That isn’t really, ultimately, that healthy for democracy, to have judges making policy.”

Alaskans will vote this November whether or not to hold another state constitutional convention, which would consist of elected delegates who would propose changes to the constitution. Any changes would also need to be approved by voters, according to Ballotpedia.

A U.S. District Court Judge ruled last year that it was not legal for Babcock and Dunleavy to ask for what have been called “loyalty pledges” from hundreds of state employees. The request came shortly after Dunleavy entered office, though Babcock said Tuesday the process “didn’t raise any red flags” for him at the time.

“Judge Sedwick decided that we had acted in error and that happens,” Babcock said. “You learn and then you move on. The next go-around, it’ll be a different set of standards applied in the future toward what an at-will employee means and which at-will employees can be let go.”

As of Tuesday evening, Babcock was the only person to have filed against Micciche. The two candidates are running to represent District D, which includes Kenai and Soldotna under new redistricting plans adopted last November. The area is currently represented by Micciche as District O.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at