Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna has ruled that Alaska State Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) can remain on the general election ballot for Nov. 8.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna

If he wins the State House seat for District 27, however, McKenna said the Division of Elections cannot certify the results until after the conclusion of a December trial to determine whether Eastman is eligible to hold public office.

Issued on Sept. 22, Judge McKenna’s preliminary injunction denied a request by former Mat-Su Assemblyman Randall Kowalke to preemptively disqualify Eastman from the general election. Kowalke claims Eastman is unfit for office because he is allegedly part of Oath Keepers, an organization Kowalke says is an insurrectionist group.

Kowalke claims Eastman’s Oath Keepers membership violates the Alaska Constitution’s loyalty clause and he asked Judge McKenna to order the Division of Elections to remove Eastman from the ballot despite the fact that Eastman far outpaced his opponents in the recent primary, and has served as a state legislator since 2016.

The loyalty clause in the Alaska Constitution states: “No person who advocates, or who aids or belongs to any party or organization or association which advocates, the overthrow by force or violence of the United States or of the State shall be qualified to hold any public office of trust or profit under this constitution.”

In a Sept. 20 hearing, Eastman’s attorney – former U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller – argued that attempts to remove Eastman from the ballot amount to an unsubstantiated and politically motivated hit job against a conservative politician.

Earlier this summer, the Division of Elections reviewed a complaint by Kowalke in which he asked for Eastman to be nixed from the ballot. The state agency, however, determined that Eastman was a candidate in good standing, regardless of his membership with Oath Keepers.

McKenna acknowledged that his ruling may negatively impact public opinion of Eastman in the lead up to the election.

Kowalke doesn’t think the Division of Elections faithfully carried out its duty to vet candidates. Since his case against Eastman doesn’t officially begin until mid-December, he had asked Judge McKenna to step in with a preliminary injunction to remove Eastman from the ballot.

Kowalke’s main claim is that Oath Keepers is fundamentally an insurrectionist organization. So far, however, his evidence revolves around the fact that some Oath Keepers have been charged – but not convicted – in the events that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. Two members of the 38,000-member national organization have pleaded guilty of seditious conspiracy to try and stop the certification of the presidential election.

Despite the actions of a small percentage of its members, Oath Keepers bylaws do not call for the overthrow of the government, and neither has Eastman.

Miller has argued that Eastman’s so-called “membership” in Oath Keepers amounts to a donation he sent the group in 2009, which resulted in a “Lifetime membership” certificate Eastman later received in the mail. Eastman has never attended an Oath Keepers’ rally or event, though, and it is not clear that he has any active role in the group at all.

Judge McKenna’s Sept. 22 ruling, however, indicates that he believes Kowalke could ultimately prevail in his December trial against Eastman. Nevertheless, removing Eastman before the trial and final verdict would pose too much of a burden to the Division of Elections, which has already printed the ballots, and it could “irreparably harm” Eastman, especially if he prevails in the December trial and demonstrate that he was, in fact, perfectly qualified to hold state office after all.

Instead of preemptively disqualifying Eastman before the trial, Judge McKenna said the Division of Elections could disqualify Eastman after the trial – and give the House District 27 seat to the runner up in the Nov. 8 election.

In a memo to Judge McKenna, Eastman said ordering a delay of his race would “likely affect voter perceptions and improperly influence House District 27’s ongoing election.”

McKenna framed his ruling as the best possible compromise, but acknowledged that it may negatively impact public opinion of Eastman in the lead up to the election.

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Judge says Rep. Eastman can stay on ballot, but delays certification if he wins

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Tiffany Borges says:

    I’m so pleased to see this! Thank you Alaska Watchman — and thank you, Rep. Eastman, for undertaking a life of service.

  • Lobo says:

    Since there has been no crime committed, where does the judge have any standing in this matter ?

    • Ivan Hodes says:

      Because it isn’t a criminal court?

      • Lobo says:

        This is a criminal court.. There are some judicial branches that specialize in family, or civil disputes, and even those will conduct litigations of criminal acts, and acts of intent… but this is not one of those courts.

  • Shifra says:

    The fact that this nonsense is even going to trial tells you all you need to know about this judge and the probable outcome. There is no legal basis for a trial whatsoever.

  • Neil DeWitt says:

    Kowalke,, is a communist. He destroys everything he get involved in. It would be nice if he just went away and never came back. I think California wants him. let’s buy him a one way ticket. This judge had no other way to render a verdict. He had to let it go or the division of elections would be on trail for allowing Eastman to be placed on the ballot. Didn’t Eastman do something that went against Kowalke? I’m thinking this is a revenge thing not anything else!

  • Jimbo says:

    This is another reason for a constitutional convention. So we can vote on Supreme Court judges.
    Can’t Eastman just resign from oath keepers before the election, then he wouldn’t be a member of any organization.

    • Ivan Hodes says:

      Great question! You should ask him why he can’t just resign.

    • Barb Melland says:

      I read the article which said Eastman made a donation in 2009 to Oathkeepers and they in turn sent him a certificate of membership.
      Regardless of whether Eastman is a member or not, Oathkeepers is an organization of law enforcement and veterans who want to uphold the Constitution. To leftists that is seditious as democraps are trying to destroy the Constitution, starting with the first and second amendments. The true seditionists are kowalke and the rest of the democraps.

  • Mag says:

    As a judge, he gave an oath as well. Why is honoring your oath to uphold and defend the constitution a crime?

  • Joe Drayton says:

    We need to vote this Judge out of office. How can you blame Eastman for other peoples actions? Especially after the entity responsible for determining eligibility finds the candidate fit for office. This is the reason for a Constitutional Convention. Change the judge selection process.

  • Steve says:

    If the Division of Election does not certify Eastman, should he win, isn’t that equivalent to an “Insurrection”? Lisa Murkowski should stand tall and call for impeachment of this judges as she did President Trump. But she won’t, she’s part of the deep-state.

  • Kathy L. says:

    Sounds like they are trying to do th same thing to Trump. Neither has done anything illegal and both are politically conservative and both are very popular with voters who would both likely win. So their oppoistion has to go to extremes to make them somehow ‘ineleigable’ to run. Not good, folks!

  • James says:

    Sounds like a good strategy to hand a conservative seat to a Democrat – since I’m assuming that’s who the runner-up will be in December.

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    Pete Santilli just put out a podcast about the FBI running informants inside the Oath Keepers on j6.
    Rep. Eastman did not do anything wrong. Ask the People who they want and do not base the decision of the seat on one person. Oh wait, the People were asked and they voted for Rep. Eastman. Interesting situation!

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    Eastman did nothing wrong.
    Vote Eastman and tell these bean counters to go pound sand, Eastman wins, end of Story

  • John J Otness says:

    I too am an Oathkeeper and like David not a terrorist these communist enemies of this Republic have been allowed to shred our Constitution and walk. all
    over our Freedoms in the name only of their theft of our Freedoms. This is all about to change.

  • Kam says:

    And Ivan Hodes was in Adak (ski patrol maybe) and is in the military. He has a dog that gets into trash (a yellow lab) and sings pirate
    Songs for a “play group” that performs at the Anchorage swanky part of
    Town. I will be contacting Ivan’s ranking officer and filing a complaint -and I suggest everyone else does too for harassing, lying and meddling in Alaskans politics. Hodes is also part of a socialist group active in Anchorage –

  • Kam says:

    Thank you John J Otness-thank you for your patriotic and integrity based service. Unlike Hodes who uses his service to hide and sneak around using a
    Socialist agenda -sniping the conservatives.

  • Michael Johnson says:

    DId the Judge take his crown off before he passed arbitrary judgement on this circus case? This has got to be one of the most ridculous and atrocious abuses of our coutrooms I have ever seen. When did courts start making arbitrary rulings with no evidence? Again, I stand by what I said earlier on this forum. Dave has a legitimate defamation counter suit and should do so. If we let leftists use our courts against us with no evidence and no repurcussions for their actions, they will continue to do so. This Judge obviously has bias against conservatives like Dave and needs to be called out. Stating that Dave could stay on the ballot wasn’t his purview to say because there was no crime committed. This is utter nonsense!