Hundreds of Alaskans are in Washington, D.C. today to celebrate Donald Trump’s inauguration as president. For some, Trump’s election was the fulfillment of their grandest wishes. Others, not so much.
Kathy Hosford was decked out in gold-nugget jewelry at one of the pre-inauguration receptions for Alaska visitors. She was beaming.
“I’m just very excited. I have hope for my grandchildren … and we’re going back to work!” Hosford said, we being America. She has work, as a lodge owner from Dyea, near Skagway. As she sees it, her part of Alaska, and the Klondike gold rush, is part of the Trump success story.
“You know Trump started out, his grandfather Drumpf started out in Dyea, Alaska, right where my little lodge is. Built a little hotel at Lake Bennett. Came out with a little bit of money. Came back to New York and started a real estate business,” Hosford said. “And that was only two generations ago.”
Hosford was a delegate for Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which she says was a lifetime highlight. She isn’t going to any of the inaugural balls, but
she planned to attend a few of the Alaska parties. One, at a downtown restaurant, featured singer Hobo Jim, and “Mushin Mortician” Scott Janssen with his sled dog Thunder.
Hosford said she also intended to be at the inauguration ceremony itself, and Trump’s parade.
“Really exciting. Absolutely I knew a long time ago I was pretty sure he was going to make it the top and he did. He cut through the mud and he’s going places and he’s going to take us to a place where we can all come together again,” Hosford said. “I really believe that, with all my heart.”
Belief was part of George LaMoureaux’s take on Trump, too. LaMoureaux, from Anchorage, recalls being asked on election night if he thought Trump would win.
“I said, if it’s part of God’s plan, he’ll win. And he won,” LaMoureaux said.
Enthusiasm was high, but scattered in the room were a few people who admitted they were Trump skeptics. Cole Faulkner said he voted for Gary Johnson.
Faulkner was at the reception with his parents – Winthrop and Audrey Faulkner, of Anchorage. They were Trump supporters from way before the Primary. Their son? He’s apprehensive about Trump.
“Yes, definitely,” Faulkner, a student at Georgetown said. “He should be fine for domestic policy and everything. But lack of foreign policy experience and what we’ve seen from him so far is quite concerning.”
On inauguration morning, the neighborhood streets of Capitol Hill took on a carnival-like atmosphere, with vendors hawking Trump tote bags, Trump hats and rain ponchos. Two blocks from the capitol, Alaskans streamed into a townhouse, the office of lobbyist Jack Ferguson. They were welcomed with donuts and sent off with directions for how to get around the security barriers to the right gate, the one that matched the color of their ticket.
Ferguson, a former chief of staff to the late Sen. Ted Stevens, has been throwing an open-house for Alaskans every inauguration morning since 1980.
“Sometimes the weather’s … so cold this place is jammed with people, because they don’t want to go out,” Ferguson said. His breakfast was also a last chance for an Alaskan to pick up a ceremony ticket. The state’s congressional delegation received nearly a thousand to distribute. With hours to go, some tickets were still unclaimed. Ferguson says not to read too much into that.
“First off, our delegation is more senior, so they get more tickets,” he said. “Secondly, (Alaskans) who want to come, we have to travel from further away than most.”
For the inauguration itself, Alaskans were spread across different sections of the Capitol lawn. They saw Trump shoot rhetorical arrows at the entrenched political elite.
“For too long … Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left, and the factories closed,” he said.
Alaska Congressman Don Young, in office nearly 44 years, said afterward he took no offense because he thinks Trump wasn’t aiming at lawmakers.
“He doesn’t clarify the political (branch). It’s the executive branch. Not the Congress,” Young said. “It’s the executive branch, the bureaucratic agencies, that’s what’s killed our country.”
Young, not a Trump fan at first, says it was a good inaugural address.
“It was short. He said it was 15 minutes, which is a little longer than it should have been,” Young said. “But he’s right. We’re united together. I’m a little tired of the whiners that are whining all the time. Let’s work together.”