Election Day started out poorly for Anchorage Assembly candidate Pete Mulcahy.
Early on the morning of April 2, Mulcahy was notified that some his signs around the Eagle River area had been vandalized. Someone attached signs that read “vote democratic” with screws to the corners of seven pro-Mulcahy signs, he said in an interview Monday, April 8.
The vandalized signs mirrored the “vote Republican” addition that Amy Demboski — who ran against Mulcahy — put on several of her own signs.
Nenana Creative Arts, owned by Joe Law, made the large signs for both Demboski and Mulcahy.
“He does just about everybody’s,” Mulcahy said Tuesday. “He’s the sign guy.”
Demboski said she called Law — who is listed as a deputy treasurer for Demboski's campaign — to inquire about the smaller signs attached to Mulcahy’s advertisements. Demboski said Law told her his shop didn’t make the signs and he had no knowledge of the vandalism incident prior to her call.
On Monday, Demboski said she was made aware of the incident after seeing one of the signs in question while driving through Eagle River the morning of Election Day.
“I had absolutely nothing to do with it,” she said.
Demboski said she encouraged Mulcahy to file a police report, which he has since done.
“I hope they figure out who did it,” she said.
Mulcahy estimated the signs were put up sometime before 4 a.m. on April 2. He said they were removed just after the polls opened at 8 a.m.
But they were up long enough for someone to capture photographic evidence.
Two Anchorage radio stations became aware of the situation after a photo of one of the signs was emailed to Rick Rydell and Casey Reynolds.
The photo, which is posted on Casey Reynolds’ Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pages/The-Casey-Reynolds-Radio-Show/108513525903650) was taken sometime before sunrise April 2.
Demboski would neither confirm nor deny that she sent the photo. However, Mulcahy claims she told him otherwise.
“She told me she sent it to Rydell,” Mulcahy said.
Just after 7 a.m. on April 2, Demboski called in to the Rick Rydell Radio Program and told the host she was “stunned” when she saw Mulcahy’s altered signs.
At that point, Demboski said she thought Mulcahy put the extra signs up himself. Mulcahy was the next caller and told Rydell it was an act of vandalism.
“That was not me,” he said on the show.
Mulcahy told Rydell that he only received $100 in campaign donations from “liberals.”
“I don’t think that’s enough to cast me as a liberal,” he said on the air.
After hearing Mulcahy on Rydell’s show, Demboski said she was convinced the signs were valdalized.
Mulcahy, who ran undeclared, advertised himself as a conservative during the campaign. Even if he was a Democrat, Mulcahy said highlighting that fact would be political suicide in conservative Chugiak-Eagle River.
“Even (Sen. Mark) Begich wouldn’t put ‘vote democratic’ on his signs in Eagle River,” he said.
Demboski agreed, saying she was confused when she saw the altered sign. Her staff was also perplexed when Demboski questioned them about the situation.
“They thought it was an April Fools joke,” she said.
Countless inquiries from constituents regarding Demboski’s party affiliation prompted her to add “vote Republican” to some of her signs around town in the weeks leading up to the election, she said.
Demboski acknowledged the suspicious nature of the vandalism incident, but said no one on her staff was responsible.
“I can’t say who did it because I don’t know,” she said.
Demboski said two polls done prior to Election Day predicted her victory, making tampering with another candidate’s signs unnecessary.
“It made no sense for anybody associated with my campaign to do a stunt like this,” she said.
Demboski called the incident “unfortunate” and said it marred what had been a friendly race.
“It ended a great campaign that was cordial and nice,” she said. “It was just totally unnecessary.”
On Rydell’s show, Mulcahy said he was disappointed but not surprised by the act.
“You wouldn’t think Eagle River would be playing this kind of game,” he said Monday.
Though Demboski will likely win the Assembly seat — she leads by 348 votes with all but early and absentee votes counted — Mulcahy said he was proud of the honorable campaign he ran.
“I have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “I’d rather lose with integrity than to compromise myself and win.”