Loose Lips: The screaming, ballsy, Republican Party picnic edition

18955141_mAll in all, the Alaska Republican Party picnic on Tuesday night was probably the most benign picnic I’ve been to, and I’ve been making a point of going for about seven years, because you never know what can happen. The most dramatic one was in 2006, when Republican Party lawyer Bill Large got whacked with a Sarah Palin “Take a Stand” sign. The whacker was a 70-plus year old Sarah Palin supporter. Large left the state shortly thereafter.

But that was then, and this is now. And if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought that the dozens of candidates, staffers, and political operatives actually liked each other.

It was all mostly mellow, except when young libertarian leaning Jeff Landfield and the outspoken head of the Anchorage Women’s Republican Club Judy Eledge began to argue heatedly over immigration. The gist: Landfield just can’t understand how she, a pro-life, save-the-children Christian, can want the country to turn its back on the children who are showing up on the border. Continue reading

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GOP Senate candidates fill out AFA survey on abortion, gay marriage, other social issues

John Aronno with the Alaska Commons does the work of unpacking the recent survey released by the Alaska Family Action (AFA) group in preparation for the group’s GOP Senate candidate “family values” debate on Aug. 4. The Alaska Family Action is the political arm of the Alaska Family Council. Run by Jim Minnery, it is commonly considered a right-wing force in the state, though how much force he actually has is debatable. After all, the group supported now-Gov. Sean Parnell over Rep. Don Young in 2008, and Young trounced Parnell in the primary.

As Aronno puts it, the survey is “narrowly honed in on views surrounding abortion, abortion, abortion, marriage equality, and abortion.” (Wouldn’t it be interesting if such surveys about family values included at least one question about the working poor, maybe, or affordable childcare?).

There’s also a question about federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, Continue reading

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GOP U.S. Senate candidate Sullivan’s new heart-wrenching ad

Here’s GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s new heart-wrenching 60 second ad. It features Wayne Woods of Palmer, whose son Shane died in Iraq in 2006 while serving in the Army.  In a release, Sullivan’s campaign said that Woods approached Sullivan about making the ad “because I know he is the right man for the job, and this is the time when we need him most,” Woods is quoted in the release as saying. 

Woods and Sullivan met shortly after Sullivan announced his candidacy and Woods has been a big supporter since. He attended a Veterans rally for Sullivan in March and told me then that he supported Sullivan because Sullivan shares his son’s values. It’s a line that he also uses in the ad.

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Updated: Maryland-based pollster has Sullivan beating Begich by 5 points

Updated: A new poll by the Maryland-based firm Basswood Research shows that if the election were held today, U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan would beat Sen. Mark Begich by 5 points, 45-40 percent with 14.6 percent undecided. The poll interviewed 500 likely Alaska voters June 29-30. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent.

The question was asked by Basswood as part of a larger poll for another candidate, who is not running for the U.S. Senate seat, and the topline numbers were released to me on the condition that I not name the paying candidate. It was a general election poll, and neither Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell nor Joe Miller were included.

Another word of caution: I don’t have the crosstabs and the makeup of the poll. So take from it what you will. Basswood, a Republican polling firm, has polled on Alaska races in the past. Recently, it’s polled for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and is one of the lead pollsters for the Club For Growth.

Update: A few of you have wanted to know how the question was worded. This is what was sent to me.

Question:  Looking ahead, if the election for the United States Senate was held today and the candidates were (randomize), for whom would you vote?

Dan Sullivan 45.4%

Mark Begich 40.0%

Undecided  14.6%

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Begich continues to use Murkowski in new ad despite her objections

When U.S. Sen. Mark Begich told Politico that “maybe” he would stop using Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s name against her will in his campaign ads, it appears that his “maybe” means, ‘Heck no.’ The campaign on Tuesday released a television ad that corresponds with a recent radio ad featuring Republican pilot Skip Nelson, touting what a great team Begich and Murkowski make and how they vote together as often as “80 percent” of the time. The claim, it should be noted, is only true for 2014. Since 2009, when Begich was elected, the two have voted together about 60 percent of the time. The issues where they deviated, Murkowski has pointed out, were significant.

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In any case, the ad is not likely to help soothe tensions between Begich and Murkowski, tensions that have been simmering beneath the surface for years since Begich stumped for Democratic Senate candidate Scott McAdams in 2010, Continue reading

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Treadwell cites controversial internet survey as proof of surge

The New York Times and CBS News, in partnership with YouGov, released the results of a controversial survey that shows if the election were held today, GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan would lose to Mark Begich by 12 points, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell would lose by only two points. The survey provided fodder for Treadwell’s campaign to claim momentum.

“This new nationally-recognized poll and the recent attacks we’ve seen from Mark Begich and his liberal allies show we’re surging and that we’re best positioned to make Begich a one-term Senator,” Treadwell said in a release.

The poll, however, lends little credibility to his claim.

The survey interviewed 452 Alaskans as part of a national project that asked 100,000 voters nation-wide questions about every Senate race in the country. The survey says that Republicans have a 60 percent chance of winning the Senate back. Continue reading

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Loose Lips: Parnell’s snappy new ad. Political mules and scrotums. Ring-a-ling: It’s ObamaCare calling.

15770860_mWord from Ketchikan’s House District 36 is that the independent House candidate Dan Ortiz has more signs up than all three Republicans in the race – - Chere Klein, Patti Mackey and Agnes Moran – - combined. According to APOC reports, he also raised more campaign cash in the most recent reporting period than any of them.

The Sealaska Corp. board of directors announced their endorsement this week of Mark Begich for U.S. Senate; Byron Mallott for Governor of the State of Alaska; and Sam Kito III as Representative for House District 32. None of this is surprising, but Democrats appear to be hungry for any kind of good news.

Want to hear something unnerving? I had a phone call this week from ObamaCare threatening to drop my insurance unless I submit certain documentation for the credits I receive. I was like, are you kidding me? I was like, ObamaCare is going to start dropping people during election season, Continue reading

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Question of the day: Why does King Cove deserve a road to Cold Bay?

Here’s a comment from my story on the dust-up between Rep. Lance Pruitt and Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell. It’s a variation of a question that often appears on stories about the road connecting King Cove to Cold Bay. Anyone care to take a crack at it? It’s legitimate question for people who don’t understand the issue:

I don’t want to start a war, but can anyone explain to me why King Cove deserves this treatment? Since I was a kid, I’ve always understood that when people live in far flung corners of this state, they do so largely at their own peril. No matter how small the road through Izembek might be, does this not set a precedent? Couldn’t every center of population make this argument, regardless of size?

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Interior Department says Pruitt is ‘wrong’ about Jewell’s ‘get over it’ comment. Pruitt stands firm.

When Alaska state House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt traveled to Washington D.C. with a group of lawmakers from across the country, he had no idea that he would get into a high-profile spat with Sally Jewell, the secretary of the Interior Department, the federal agency that is basically the landlord to more than 60 percent of Alaska’s land.

“I never intended to get in any kind of war with a cabinet secretary,” Pruitt, who’s known for being cautious and even tempered, said in an interview on Saturday.

Ostensibly, the “war” is over whether or not Jewell said that she wished Alaska would “get over” pushing to get a gravel, potentially life-saving road through a slice of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska’s Aleutian chain. Pruitt said that was Jewell’s response after he asked her about the road during a White House meeting. According to Pruitt, Jewell said that there were more important things to focus on in the state, like drilling in the Arctic Ocean and in NPR-A.

Pruitt said that Jewell said, “I wish Alaskans would get over this one issue.”

A spokesperson for the agency categorically denied the statement. Continue reading

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GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s new ad

Here’s the most recent ad for U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, which began running statewide on cable on Friday. So far, Sulivan’s ads have been fairly one dimensional. But this one has multiple messages. It attempts to undercut Begich’s attacks against him, and it makes the argument that the only reason he’s being attacked in the first place is because he’s the strongest GOP contender in the field.

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Interior Secretary Jewell wishes Alaskans would ‘get over’ King Cove road

Among a crowd of lawmakers from across the country at the White House on Friday, Alaska state House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell about her decision to continue to bar a potentially life-saving road through a federal wildlife refuge in Southeast Alaska.

He was shocked by her response.

“I wish that Alaskans would get over it,” Jewell said, according to Pruitt, who wrote down the quote, referring to the long-fought-for road from King Cove to Cold Bay. Pruitt said she talked about other issues that she felt were “more important” than the road, like opening up lands for oil development in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, and offshore drilling in the Arctic.

“Do you know how you feel when you get punched in the gut? That’s how I felt,” Pruitt said in a phone interview on Friday. “What she basically said is that drilling is more important than saving lives.”

Other lawmakers in the room approached Pruitt after the meeting, describing Jewell’s reaction as “arrogant.” Continue reading

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GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller goes up on air

Below is GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller’s first television ad, which will run on cable, and maybe broadcast. (I’m waiting to hear back from the campaign on that.) Miller’s spokesperson said that he’s also going up with at least one radio ad that will run through the August 19 primary. The ad reinforces the narrative that Miller’s been weaving throughout the election season: Namely, that he’s the only “true” conservative in the race. As expected, the ad touches on traditional tea party talking points: Abolishing the IRS, balancing the budget, gun rights and immigration. These are all things that Miller has spoken about repeatedly on the stump. What might be surprising to some who view Miller as a fire-breathing radical, is the ad’s warm tone. Notice the upbeat music, the lack of attacks on his opponents. how he holds a baby. It’s not the softest of all ads, but it does have a human touch, something that many in the state haven’t seen from Miller.

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North Slope mayors endorse Begich

U.S. Sen Mark Begich received a handful of endorsements in his bid for reelection from current and former North Slope mayors, including the following:

  • Charlotte Brower, North Slope Borough Mayor (Current)
  • Robert Harcharek, Mayor of Barrow (Current)
  • John Hopson Jr., Mayor of Wainwright (Current)
  • Eugene Brower, North Slope Borough Mayor (Former)
  • Edward Itta, North Slope Borough Mayor (Former)
  • Rep. Benjamin Nageak, North Slope Borough Mayor (Former)

Also recently, Begich received the endorsement from the board of directors of the Sealaska Corporation, which has 21,600 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian shareholders throughout Alaska. The Arctic Slope Regional Corp’s board recently endorsed GOP Senate candidate Sullivan.

From a Begich campaign press release: Continue reading

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Tension escalates between Begich and Murkowski

Politico, a D.C. based publication, isn’t above overplaying narrative tension. However, a piece today about the increasing strain between Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich as Begich’s reelection campaign begins to heat up, appears to be understated, if anything, I’ve heard.

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To set up the story, Murkowski is quoted as saying that she wants a “Republican partner,” and that Begich, according to her “needs to run on his record — and not mine.”

Politico recounts a recent instance where she requested her name Continue reading

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