Ron Johnson, 71, describes himself as a “hardcore constitutional conservative,” and he does not support Sarah Palin in the race for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat. He is the Alaska Republican Party Region 2 representative. Jeff Chen | Alaska Public Media
To her followers around the country, former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is a beloved culture warrior.
“Right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our God, our religion and our Constitution,” is how Palin described the culture she is fighting for in 2016, while on stage with Donald Trump to endorse his run for president.
Other than the “bitter” part, that description would seem to fit Alaskan retiree and Vietnam veteran Ron Johnson, right down to the American flag t-shirt he wears under a camouflage-printed fleece jacket.
Johnson lives about 25 miles from Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, the heartland of Alaska conservatism. He’s got a Trump sign by his driveway, and he’s certainly a proud gun owner.
“Once you get into it, no telling how many guns you’ll have. Just right here, there’s one above me,” he told a visitor at the front door of his log home. “And two set in here, and one on my waist.”
Johnson voted for Palin for governor. But now that she’s running for Alaska’s sole U.S. House seat? Even this right-wing, gun-toting Republican doesn’t want her to win.
“I think she’s out of touch with Alaskans right now,” he said. “She’s moved into a different circle. She was a vice presidential candidate. Yeah, I don’t think that the people here — we don’t take her very seriously.”
Ron Johnson in his log house in Butte, Alaska. Jeff Chen | Alaska Public Media
That Palin doesn’t have the conservative vote locked up on her own ruby-red home turf suggests Alaska’s most famous Republican has some challenges to overcome if she’s going to be the state’s next member of Congress.
Johnson doesn’t blame Palin for cashing in on her celebrity with a series of TV appearances after a bruising presidential campaign.
“She’s made a lot of money and, you know, good for her. I’m glad that she’s successful,” Johnson said.
Other local conservatives say some of her televised gigs damaged her stature, like in 2020 when she wore a pink and blue bear suit on the show The Masked Singer and rapped “Baby Got Back.”
“That (national) attention … to me it’s just made her more of an embarrassment to Alaskans than someone to respect and support,” said Karina Wentworth, a stay-at-home mom and marketing manager who lives in Wasilla.
Wentworth’s politics, like Johnson’s, are clear from the driveway: A small …….