Linda Menard: The Endangered Incumbent

Every week between now and Election Day the Northern Right will profile and update races for state legislative seats.

We will rate which political party we think has the best chance at a given seat by classifying each race into one of the following categories: Solid Democrat, Likely Democrat, Lean Democrat, Toss Up, Lean Republican, Likely Republican, and Solid Republican. These ratings can shift significantly and rapidly based on current events, so stay tuned to see where candidates stand. 

Our first race will be State Senate Seat D.


Incumbent: Linda Menard (R)
Primary Challenger: Mike Dunleavy
Democrat Challenger: None
Race Rating: Solid R

Redistricting Impact: This seat represents two house seats covering a huge area of the Mat-Su borough. One is a relatively unchanged Palmer area seat now occupied by Carl Gatto. The other is the seat covering the northern and western-most portion of Mat-su that Mark Nueman now holds. The redistricting impact here is not in how the seats were drawn, but rather in which house seats were paired to create a senate seat. Before this year, Linda Menard’s senate seat coupled the House seat including the city of Wasilla with the House seat stretching to the city of Palmer. The people in Palmer objected to being paired with their rivals in Wasilla, and the redistricting board accommodated them by pairing Palmeranions with a district that wrapped around Wasilla and took in all points northwest in the Mat-Su. This means Linda Menard will have the incumbent advantage for only about half of her new seat.

Race Analysis: Let’s start with the good ole fashion R vs. D fight. In short, it won’t exist here. The western Mat-Su is solidly conservative. Let us rephrase that: they are insanely conservative. This is Joe Miller heartland. The long and short of it is Jesus himself could run in this district on a platform of curing all the sick in the state and giving a year’s worth of free wine and bread to every constituent, but if he had a “D” next to his name he would still only get 35 percent of the vote. There will be no general election fight worthy of discussion.

The fight here will be for the Republican nomination. If Linda Menard does indeed run for re-election, she’ll have a steep uphill climb. Aside from the fact she will be running in a largely new and far more conservative district, she and her family have done little to help themselves in the past three years.

On the positive side, Menard’s legislative accomplishments are limited to creating Marmot Day and spending money on a new legislative building in Anchorage.  Neither will excite her constituents.

On the negative side, she has her participation in a Democrat-led majority, a letter to the redistricting board saying she doesn’t want to represent her new constituents, and an out of control son she has been enabling hanging around her neck. It sure looks like she is wearing Mr. T’s golden necklaces of political baggage.

If she has anything resembling a decent opponent, she loses or smartly decides not to run, plain and simple.

Her primary opponent is Mike Dunleavy, a school board member with a background as a school administrator. He presents as smart, engaged, and earnest. If we had to find a flaw in Mr. Dunleavy it could only be that he might suffer from the Halcro, Treadwell, Ramras syndrome of knowing too much of the inside baseball to connect with Average Joe voters. We are guessing he figures it out. From our perspective, he sure fits the bill as a top-end candidate for state office.

Bottom Line: Conservative groups in the Valley are already organizing to make Menard the “Lisa Murkowski face of RINOism” for this election. We don’t see how she survives.  All things being equal, no Democrat can win this seat.  Our money is on there being a Senator Dunleavy this time next year.