Tears welled up in his eyes as Christopher Constant played the recording of a telephone call to his office.
The gay assemblyman for the City of Anchorage, Alaska, is conditioned to intimidation tactics, but this call adds a dangerous layer to the game.
“I wanna see you get smoked so bad and you’re going to too,” the man said in a nearly two-minute message which includes threats and multiple homophobic insults.
“I’m not afraid of you homosexuals,” he said. “It disgusts me. Pervert!”
Constant has turned over the tape to the Anchorage Police Department. He fights back tears when talks about his love for Alaska, his dog, mountain biking and, sadly, how his campaign for Congress is revealing old prejudices.
“This is the reality of what the race is and he is just the one who is willing to say it,” Constant said. “Just know this, this is what makes me strong, we make the difference for all the kids coming forward in a world that is not going to be like this anymore.”
Constant is one of 48 candidates seeking Alaska’s lone seat in Congress. The nation’s largest state is using ranked voting to determine its federal representative, a new approach to elections that was accelerated when longtime Congressman Don Young died in office in March.
“We’re in the experiment now so we’ll see what happens,” Constant said.
The top four vote-getters in the June 11 special election advance to an August primary. The field ranges from former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin to a socialist from the North Pole whose legal name is Santa Claus.
This voting experiment, Constant said, can go in two directions. It will force the extremes to the center to build coalitions or harden the grip of the current power apparatus, led by Senator Lisa Murkowski, often considered a swing vote on health care issues.
As for Palin, who has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, Constant said most Alaskans see through the Fox News hype.
“What outside people don’t understand about Sarah Palin is, yes 87% of people know her but most people don’t like her because she’s a quitter,” Constant said. “Alaskans aren’t down with that and I think people are going to be surprised when they see how poorly she performs on the 11th.”
Constant came to Alaska 25 years ago from the central California coast. Determined to make a go of it as a fishing guide, he was forced to extend his stay when the airline he took from the Lower 48 went out of business.
After stints in the non-profit sector, he ran for the Anchorage Assembly as an out gay man with the endorsement of the Victory Fund and won. Now the governing body’s vice chairman, Constant has drawn the ire of conservatives for, among other things, ensuring COVID-19 guidelines were followed and pushing back against those who claim the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was “legitimate political discourse.”
His latest effort to introduce a framework to remove a mayor from office has rattled the opposition even more and likely an underlying source for the threatening phone call.
“People don’t realize how much risk there is in this job especially for a queer,” Constant said.
Constant knows all too well. He’s been called a “cocksucker” during an assembly meeting, had his house targeted by angry demonstrators and now death threats.
“We’re going to fight this fight until these people are dead from old age or we have overwhelmed them with so many of us who believe in equity and equality and justice and freedom and fairness for everybody. That’s the fight and that’s why I’m in this race.”