As unofficial results continue to trickle in from the Municipal Clerks Office, it appears increasingly unlikely that the effort to recall Anchorage Assemblyman Felix Rivera will succeed — much to my own surprise.
Arguably, the Recall Rivera ballot group ran a vocal, well-organized and sustained social media campaign.
While organized and vocal, some opponents of the recall effort said the political effort was misguided and dishonest, with those opposed citing the allegation that Assemblyman Rivera had permitted too many people into the Anchorage Assembly Chambers in an alleged violation of COVID-19 mandates.
“On one hand they’re trying to recall me because I allegedly allowed two too many people in the room. On the other hand, they’ve sued both me and the municipality because we didn’t allow enough people in the room and [they allege] we should’ve allowed everyone who wanted to be there in the room,” Rivera said in an interview this past February.
Recently, I had someone ask me — if it was proven beyond all doubt that Assemblyman Rivera had let a few more people into the Assembly Chambers than was permitted under the COVID-19 mandates would my opinion on the recall have changed?
As someone who doesn’t believe in black and white answers, especially where politics is concerned, I don’t expect my opinion would have changed but I say that with a caveat.
Accidentally letting a few more people in is a much different situation to me than willfully disregarding mandates.
For example, if Assemblyman Rivera had stood up and waved people into the chambers and said that he didn’t care about the mandates, I’d almost certainly have had a much different perspective on the recall effort— but allegedly unintentionally allowing a few more people into the chambers? I wouldn’t see that as a legitimate reason worthy of a recall for any politician, regardless of party affiliation, and it appears that voters in District 4 didn’t see it that way either.
Some voters may have been swayed by media buys, Facebook posts, and ever-present memes about the recall on both sides — but money, whether it comes from inside or outside of the state, can’t always buy someone’s vote, especially if the people you’re asking to support your political effort find the very basis for it accidental or trivial.
The recall itself was legal, of course, but the ultimate decision to recall the Assembly Chair was left to the voters who weighed the facts and were left to vote based on those facts.
The latest unofficial results for the Recall Rivera are 57.25% – 42.75%.