Alaska man in mistaken FBI raid runs for lieutenant governor

February 1, 2022 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska man whose home was mistakenly raided by FBI agents searching for a laptop stolen from the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection has been chosen as the running mate for conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Kurka.

Paul Hueper, 59, wearing a T-shirt that said “We the People are Pissed,” was introduced as the lieutenant governor candidate by Kurka at a rally Monday night in Wasilla.

Kurka, who currently serves in the Alaska House, said he chose a lieutenant governor candidate that has the same vision he has, and also one who is dedicated to “cleaning up the disaster that has become our Division of Elections.” In Alaska, lieutenant governors oversee elections.

Kurka cited the purchase of Dominion voting machines as problematic, and he’s not happy with the person who leads the division.

“Just the hiring of Gail Fenumiai to run the Division of Elections is an insult to every conservative in the state,” he said.

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Fenumiai was brought back to the division in 2018 and was previously the head of the division when U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski won the 2010 general election as a write-in after losing the Republican primary that year to Joe Miller, who has endorsed Kurka.

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, a Republican, in 2020 said the state has been using Dominion equipment since the 1990s and bought new Dominion machines in 2019. In 2020, he called for a review of the ballots cast on an initiative that narrowly passed, which he said was aimed at calming questions that had been raised about the validity of election results tied to the vote tabulation equipment. The review, conducted after the election was certified, also affirmed the passage of the ballot measure, which ends party primaries and institutes ranked choice voting for general elections.

Some supporters of former President Donald Trump nationally have sought to sow doubt about the results of the race for president by attacking Dominion Voting Systems, a widely used voting technology provider. The company has filed defamation lawsuits over some of the claims that have been made.

Hueper said Alaska needs to start thinking “in terms of independence from the federal government,” and decried what he called oppression the state faces from Washington, D.C. He said that has to change, or Alaskans will lose their rights.

“We’re going to win this election because people are tired of compromise. We’re tired of people who are going to fold,” he said.

He also expressed support for the Pebble Mine, a proposed copper and gold mine near the headwaters of a major Alaska salmon fishery, and said trawlers are a threat because of their bycatch in Alaska waters.

Hueper and his wife, Marilyn, attended a rally for Trump in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, but said they did not enter the Capitol in the ensuing riot.

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Months later, FBI agents raided their home in Homer, Alaska, looking for a laptop belonging to the staff of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which was taken during the insurrection. They were not arrested, and federal authorities later arrested a woman and her son in New York in connection with the theft. Marilyn Hueper and the woman arrested bore a striking resemblance.

Under Alaska’s new voting system, the governor and lieutenant governor candidates run as a team from the get-go. The candidates will appear on the same primary ballot, and the top four vote-getters regardless of party affiliation will advance to the general election, in which ranked choice voting will be used.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has not announced a running mate after Meyer said he would not seek re-election. Former Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, is running with Heidi Drygas. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Walden is running with Tanya Lange, and Libertarian Billy Toien has chosen Shirley Rainbolt as his running mate.

Democrat Les Gara hasn’t announced a running mate yet. Charlie Pierce, a Republican and the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, has announced plans to run for governor but hasn’t announced a running mate.