Redrawn district draws former state rep to take on Davis
Two veteran Democrats, incumbent Sen. Bettye Davis and former state Rep. Harry Crawford, are squared off against each other in the Aug. 28 primary election in the newly-reconfigured Senate District M, covering parts of east Anchorage and now Eagle River. Rep. Anna Fairclough, a Republican who now represents Eagle River, is the lone Republican in the race.
Davis is a long-time state senator whose district was substantially changed in the 2012 redistricting. Much of her former district, where she is well-known, was taken out and put into adjacent districts. The senate district was shifted north and east, and now has parts of Fairclough’s Eagle River House district as well as parts of Rep. Mike Hawker’s upper Hillside House district.
Those areas are primarily Republican. Davis said the new district now has more people from Eagle River than from Anchorage.
Davis was surprised, she said, when Crawford jumped into the primary race to oppose her. Crawford said he entered the race because he felt, in the reconfigured district, he had a better chance than Davis to win against Fairclough in November and hold the Senate seat for Democrats.
Davis’ district was segmented in a way that major parts of Crawford’s old House district were added, where he is well-known, Crawford said. That puts him in a stronger position to face Fairclough, he said.
Crawford served several terms in the state House and then ran for Congress against Rep. Don Young. He is a retired ironworker who now does real estate development.
Davis has served in the Senate for 12 years, since 2001, and was previously in the House where she served six years beginning in 1991. In 1997 she decided not to run again in the House and returned to run again for the Anchorage School Board, on which she had served prior to entering the Legislature.
Davis is a retired nurse and social worker whose passion has been expanding Denali KidCare, the state’s medical program for children in low-income families. She steered an expansion of the program through the Legislature twice only to have it vetoed both times by Gov. Sean Parnell. A recent accomplishment in 2012 was a suicide-awareness bill that makes training available for teachers to detect signs of suicide-prone youths.
Crawford is most proud of two provisions he helped steer through to passage, one a strong Alaska-hire provision in the Alaska Gasline Inducement Contract signed by TransCanada Corp., the second an anti-alcohol abuse provision, the authorization for the “red stripe” on a driver’s license for a driver convicted of driving under the influence.
As for the pipeline, Alaska-hire laws have had a tough time in the courts, but Crawford thinks the AGIA contract provision may pass muster. It requires TransCanada and any gas pipeline partners to have a Project Labor Agreement that spells out how they will recruit Alaskans. Most PLAs are designed for unions, but this one is specific only to Alaskans, Crawford said.
Crawford has also been an ardent supporter of alternative energy and was active in legislation providing for state grants for renewable energy development. Crawford doesn’t take all credit for these accomplishments, however. A member of the House minority like Crawford typically has to team up with a member of the majority to get a bill through. The minority member can do a lot of the grunt-work but the majority member is typically the prime sponsor and gets the credit.