Tuckerman Babcock hosts a rally in Soldotna during his campaign for state Senate in October of 2022. On Wednesday he was appointed to the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Babcock has a long and controversial political history in Alaska, including illegally demanding hundreds of state employees sign loyalty oaths to Dunleavy or be fired. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Tuckerman Babcock hosts a rally in Soldotna during his campaign for state Senate in October of 2022. On Wednesday he was appointed to the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Babcock has a long and controversial political history in Alaska, including illegally demanding hundreds of state employees sign loyalty oaths to Dunleavy or be fired. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Tuckerman Babcock gets recess appointment to UA board by Dunleavy

Selection of controversial political strategist comes after Legislature’s rejection of Bethany Marcum.

Tuckerman Babcock, among Alaska’s most controversial political figures, was appointed Wednesday to the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. The move comes after the Alaska State Legislature rejected the also-controversial appointment of Bethany Marcum earlier this month.

The appointment also occurred one day after Jeremy Cubas, Dunleavy’s adviser on “pro-family” policies, resigned when a news investigation revealed Cubas defended Adolf Hitler’s views on “living homogeneously,” boasted about using racial slurs daily and said people should respond violently to aggressive transgender activists.

Babcock, a top Republican official for decades in the state, is notorious for demanding about 800 at-will state employee sign loyalty pledges to Dunleavy while serving as his chief of staff beginning in December of 2018. A federal judge ruled in 2021 Babcock and Dunleavy acted illegally with the demand and subsequent firings.

Marcum’s appointment was opposed by lawmakers and university officials largely due to her support of Dunleavy’s first budget that cut the university’s funding by 40%. The 29-31 vote against her by the Legislature made her the only nominee rejected for dozens of positions considered this session.

Babcock, as Dunleavy’s first chief of staff, was among those advocating for the governor’s deep budget cuts to the university and other areas of state spending.

A prediction Babcock would receive a recess appointment to the UA board — meaning he can serve at least until the Legislature gavels in again and votes on confirming him, likely next spring — if Marcum was rejected was made by the Alaska Landmine in March. A spokesperson for Dunleavy declined to comment on the Landmine’s report at the time.

Dunleavy could have made Babcock a recess appointment to the Board of Regents before its meetings late last week, since the Legislature adjourned its regular proceedings for the year May 18. The board’s next committee and regular meetings are scheduled Aug. 30-31.

Inquiries by the Empire to the governor’s office about the motives and timing of Babcock’s appointment after it was announced at about 5 p.m. Wednesday were not immediately returned.

In a press release, the governor’s office noted Babcock served as chairman of the Alaska Republic Party before becoming Dunleavy’s first chief of staff. Babcock was also executive director of the state reapportionment board during the early 1990s, was a political and campaign strategist for numerous major state politicians, and was assistant manager of Matanuska Electric Association (MEA).

Babcock, a Soldotna resident, also unsuccessfully ran for a state Senate seat in his home district last year.

“Tuckerman’s experience serving in numerous statewide government positions and ten years in business management makes him a great fit for the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents,” Dunleavy said in a prepared statement. “I am grateful for his continued service and commitment to the State of Alaska. I am confident that Tuckerman’s expert knowledge of public service and leadership will continue to help Alaska for the better.”

Babcock, in a brief interview with the Anchorage Daily News on Wednesday evening, said he’s “not charging in with any particular agenda.”

“I am looking forward to reviewing the budget and getting a good grasp of where all the different sources of income are,” he told the Anchorage newspaper.

Some current and former lawmakers suggested Babcock isn’t likely to keep the job beyond the next time the Legislature votes to confirm nominees.

“I don’t think he’s going to be confirmed, so I guess it’s kind of a temporary appointment,” Rep. Zack Fields, an Anchorage Democrat, told the Anchorage Daily News. “Fundamentally, he tried to destroy the university and doesn’t have a record of supporting it.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 19

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, addresses a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sullivan touts new ocean cleanup headquarters in Juneau, attacks Biden in annual speech to legislators

Senator calls Trump “the best president ever” for Alaska, has harsh words for Iran and migrants

The Norwegian Bliss arrives in Juneau on April 17, 2023, the first cruise ship of the 2023 season. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Free public downtown Wi-Fi, park upgrades, more buses among proposals for marine passenger fees

Public comments being accepted until March 25 for more than $19 million in recommended projects.

Andy Mills (left), legislative liaison for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and Commissioner Ryan Anderson testify before the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday about an executive order that would give the governor full control of the Alaska Marine Highway System’s operations board. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Governor says he wants control of ferry board so it’s not ‘at odds’ with him; senators express skepticism

Resolution to reject Dunleavy’s executive order among many being considered by legislators.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Monday, Feb. 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Paul Peterson, author of the Harvard study on national charter school performance. (KTOO 360TV screenshot)
Alaska lawmakers grapple with test-score performance gap between charters and other public schools

Charter study does not show how their testing success can be replicated in regular public schools.

An underwater image captured in 2016 shows sockeye salmon swimming up the Brooks River in Alaska’s Katmai National Park to spawn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is buying about 50 million pounds of Alaska fish — pollock, pink salmon and sockeye salmon — to use in its food and nutrition-assistance programs. (Photo provided by the National Park Service)
Agriculture Department commits to big purchase of Alaska salmon and pollock for food programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will purchase about 50 million pounds of… Continue reading

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé students hold up signs during a rally along Egan Drive on Tuesday afternoon protesting a proposal to consolidate all local students in grades 10-12 at Thunder Mountain High School to help deal with the Juneau School District’s financial crisis. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
JDHS students, teachers rally to keep grades 9-12 at downtown school if consolidation occurs

District’s proposed move to TMHS would result in loss of vocational facilities, ninth-grade students.

Deven Mitchell, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., gives a tour of the corporation’s investment floor to Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, and other attendees of an open house on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. leaders approve proposal to borrow up to $4 billion for investments

Plan must be OK’d by legislators and Gov. Mike Dunleavy because it requires changes to state law.

Most Read