Despite what his viral sticker might lead you to believe, Matt Hamilton doesn’t wish Gov. Mike Dunleavy any ill will.
Hamilton, the owner of the Ketchikan-based Creative Hustler Company, is the artist behind a sticker that’s popped up around Juneau and other Alaska cities. It features a simple black-and-white picture of Dunleavy and just one word, “oosik.”
An oosik is a baculum, or so-called “penis bone.” It’s present in seals, walruses, whales, polar bears and many other non-human mammals.
“I have no hard feelings toward the guy himself,” Hamilton said in a phone interview. “The reason I did that is I’m kind of a funny guy. One of my things is I like to bring Alaska into the spotlight of pop culture ideas. If I’m going to do something political, I also want it to be something only Alaskans would get, and I wanted it to be clever enough that if you know Alaska well enough, you are going to see it right way.”
While the sticker draws an unflattering comparison, Hamilton had some favorable things to say about elements of Dunleavy’s platform in addition to a less positive assessment of the governor’s messaging.
“I’m a huge fan of government not being involved in my life as much,” Hamilton said. “It seems like that’s something he really likes, and I would like a bigger PFD. All the things that he has said that he wants, I’m kind of a big fan of. But I’m also not a fan of rude people.”
Hamilton also said if the trade-off for a bigger Permanent Fund Dividend is cuts in support for schools or services that help the elderly, then the PFD isn’t worth it.
In light of his displeasure, Hamilton opted to share his thoughts via art. Like his other work, the sticker combines pop culture, irreverent humor and Alaska-specific references. It’s since spread in a way that Hamilton didn’t anticipate.
“This one was kind of for my friends and family, and it just kind of took off,” Hamilton said. “There’s a lot of people upset with just how he acted. He’s getting a lot of pushback I think just in the way he rolls them out.”
During a recent speech at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention, Dunleavy said he’s heard from displeased Alaskans and plans to be more compromising and do a better job of incorporating others’ ideas moving forward. However, in a subsequent Fox News interview, Dunleavy struck a more defensive tone when discussing ongoing recall efforts.
“I am confident that as people realize the decisions that we made are actually going to improve the situation for Alaska, I’m confident that this situation will die down,” Dunleavy told Neil Cavuto. We’ll be able to have a better dialogue and work together to make Alaska a better state for all Alaskans.”
Hamilton said he created the sticker design in July — the governor announced over $400 million in proposed line-item budget vetoes in late June, which were later mostly restored by the Legislature via the capital budget.
Hamilton said about 1,000 stickers have so far been sold.
“There’s one person who bought 400 them in Ninilchik, or at least her address from Ninilchik,” he said.
So far, Hamilton said reaction to the sticker has been relatively positive even among the governor’s supporters.
“They’re not taking it hard, and I ask them questions, and it’s opened a dialogue up,” Hamilton said.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.