At the beginning of 1983 I had the world by the tail. A beautiful wife, three fine young sons, and at the age of 37 a seat in the Alaska State Senate. It was a seat designed specifically for me by the outgoing Governor, Jay Hammond, in return for services rendered in his 1978 primary victory over Wally Hickel.
I felt politically invulnerable, even though Senator Ted Stevens, former Governor and Interior Secretary Wally Hickel and incoming Governor Bill Sheffield all hated my guts. I had a friend in former Governor Hammond, and had been instrumental in Frank Murkowski’s campaign for the U. S. Senate in 1980. And my district was perfect. It was the most conservative and Republican a district as Hammond could make it, and I would represent these people well.
A few months later I lost my Senate seat in a gerrymander by Governor Bill Sheffield. Supreme Court Justice Rabinowitz had inititially ruled in favor of the Hammond plan. But he didn’t enter final judgement, and after the 1982 election he changed his mind. The Hammond plan was unconstitutional after all.
I got my revenge on Sheffield, by laying the groundwork for an impeachment resolution that was filed against him. He never recovered politically, and lost the Democratic primary in 1986.
The only shot I had at Rabinowitz was his retention election in 1988. There was no way I was going to beat him. Justices are routinely retained with 70% of the vote. I just wanted to bloody his nose, and I did. I ran a TV ad accusing him of several instances of misconduct, and his margin shrank from 70% to 60%. That’s the best I could do.
Jay Rabinowitz was some kind of hero to most lawyers in Alaska. Not to me. And that’s why all the lawyers up there hate me.