Counselor running for governor
Haines resident and Alaska Constitution Party chairman J.R. Myers filed his letter of intent Monday to run for Alaska governor in 2014.
Myers, 50, filed the letter with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, allowing him to begin campaigning before declaring his candidacy with the Division of Elections.
Alaska Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai said Myers will need to file with the division by June 1 and collect 3,017 signatures by Aug. 19 to appear on the general election ballot in 2014.
The Alaska Constitution Party has 131 registered members in the state, Fenumiai said.
In 2010, Myers founded the Alaska Constitution Party, a splinter group of the Alaska Independence Party. Myers said the national Constitution Party has indicated they will help him with the petitioning process.
Before moving to Alaska in 2003, Myers acted as chairman of the Montana Libertarian Party and then as chairman of the Reform Party of Montana from 1998 to 2002.
Myers said his party’s primary goal is to “uphold the rule of law and the Constitution as the foundation of our compact with government.”
A strong supporter of the initiative to repeal SB 21, the oil tax passed by the Alaska Legislature, Myers said the state needs to move away from its “addiction to the oil industry,” develop sustainable energy sources, and expand the rail belt.
Myers said he would also like to see the state’s permanent fund reinvested inside Alaska to help local entrepreneurs.
He does not support the Juneau Access road project, same-sex marriage or abortion.
Myers said he was a Republican in the 1980s, but left the party because it suffered from corruption and wasn’t “living up to its promised ideals.”
“It has done nothing but decay since. I think that the days of the Republican Party are numbered, which will give an opportunity to parties like the Alaska Constitution Party and others,” he said.
Dr. Jonathan Rosenberg, a political science professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said he isn’t so sure he agrees with Myers’ reasoning.
“He may think the timing is right, but I don’t think it really is the case in Alaska... Statewide, the Republican Party tends to be strong. The districts that are Democrat and haven’t been gerrymandered away also are pretty solid,” Rosenberg said.
Still, third-party candidates with a very slim chance at winning do serve a purpose in our democratic system, he said.
“The purpose is usually simply to make a point, to get the kind of public exposure for a particular point of view or ideology. I think it’s mainly to get the position out there, to get people to know the party exists, and to build a constituency over the long run,” Rosenberg said.
“Even if they don’t win, if they get enough (of the vote), they wind up on the ballot and it raises their profile,” he added.
That is one of Myers’ main reasons for running: to get major-party status for the Alaska Constitution Party so its presidential candidate can appear on the ballot in 2016.
If Myers succeeds in getting on the ballot in 2014 and receives at least 3 percent of the vote in the gubernatorial race, the Alaska Constitution Party will become a recognized political party in Alaska and appear on the presidential ballot.
Though there are only 131 party members statewide, Myers expects that number “to grow exponentially.”
“I’m hoping the fact is most people don’t even know we exist, so this is an opportunity to get higher visibility,” he said.
Myers said a website for his campaign is in the works, and that he intends to use social media as a large part of his strategy. “I think we’re in a new era of campaigning. It affords a greater opportunity for the average citizen to mount a campaign in Alaska through the Internet,” he said.
Myers, who is a licensed professional counselor, moved from the Kenai Peninsula to Haines two years ago to manage the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium behavioral health clinic. He currently works as a counselor at Lynn Canal Counseling Services.