The governing committee of the Alaska Democratic Party is having an emergency meeting on Monday evening to discuss the possibility of a governor’s ticket that combines the candidacy of independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker and Democratic candidate Byron Mallott.
The Executive Committee of the Democratic Central Committee will meet telephonically beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Labor Day. This will be followed by a Central Committee meeting. Rumors about such an alignment between Walker and Mallott have been swirling for days. However, there have been questions about how it would work. Walker is a registered Republican. Democratic Party rules dictate that it can’t support a Republican. However, Walker can change his registration, and the party can nominate to support an undeclared candidate. Further, people have questioned whether Mallott, a hugely credentialed candidate, would take a number two spot on the ticket.
Alaska Democratic Party Chair Mike Wenstrup confirmed the meetings. However, he said that nothing is set in stone yet Continue reading →
On Friday, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released an inflammatory television commercial featuring a former sergeant from the Anchorage Police Department, talking about a horrific crime that happened last year in Anchorage, where a two year old was raped, and two of her elderly relatives were murdered. The victims were from Cambodia. The murdered couple had survived the Khmer Rouge. The ad lays the blame for the crimes on GOP Senate challenger Dan Sullivan, who was the state’s former Attorney General.
The ad is the closest thing to a Willie Horton ad that we have ever seen in Alaska. One of the differences is that Willie Horton– the Massachusetts man who raped a woman while on furlough during Gov. George Dukakis’ term– was already convicted and doing time for his crime when Republican political operatives took hold of the issue.
Jerry Active, the man accused of the crimes in Anchorage, pleaded not guilty and is still in jail, awaiting trial, which is scheduled to start Sept. 22.
The current attorney general Michael Geraghty sent out a statement on Saturday, saying the charge against Sullivan, “has no basis in fact.” Geraghty also said that “drawing attention to the case,” is “inappropriate and offensive,” given that it’s an open case.
Sullivan shot back with his own commercial. He went so far as to name the accused, something that Begich’s ad didn’t do.
If the crime continues to be used in the campaign, it will likely delay what will already be an expensive, and emotionally charged trial.
Active had been recently released from jail in 2013 when he allegedly committed the crimes. Continue reading →
Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign released the most inflammatory ad of this campaign on Friday going into the holiday weekend. The ad features former Anchorage Police Department officer Bob Glen, who, among other things, blames GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan for the heinous 2013 rape of a 2-year-old and the murder of her elderly relatives.
According to the city’s human resources department, Glen was an officer with APD from 1989 to 2010.
Sullivan’s campaign shot back with an ad of its own, calling the Begich commercial “despicable.” In a press release, Sullivan says that Begich is “lying to Alaskans and using the murder of an elderly couple and the sexual assault of a two-year old for his own political gain,… Most Alaskans know that Mark Begich will do or say anything to win election, but this latest television ad proves it.” (Both of the ads are below, and because the case in question is still open, both the ads should make defense lawyers howl.)
Begich’s spokesperson, Max Croes, is sticking by the ad. “He is personally responsible for the actions of the Department of Law when he was Attorney General,” Croes said about Sullivan.
Sullivan was AG from. June 2009 to April December 2010. He then became the commissioner of the state’s Department of Natural Resources until he stepped down to run for office last fall.
Here’s the latest ad attacking GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan for his supposed support of Pebble Mine, this one courtesy of by VoteVets Action Fund. VoteVets is a “progressive political organization” which supports vets. The ad features John Christensen, a commercial fisherman from Port Heiden, who is also a Navy Vet. The buy, including online ads, is $675,000.
It’s not the first, and won’t be the last ad tying Sullivan to Pebble. The first ad of the general election by the pro-Begich super-PAC, Put Alaska First, featured Sullivan and Pebble. Alaska Conservation Voters have formed a super-PAC, named SalmonPAC, which is putting up to $1 million into the issue.
Pebble is one of Alaska’s most well-known and controversial projects. If built, it would be one of the largest gold and copper mines in the world, in the waterways of one of the world’s largest wild salmon runs. Alaska is generally a pro-resource-extraction, pro-mining state. This project, however, has huge opposition. Last I heard, about 65 percent of the public is against the mine. Sen. Ted Stevens came out against the mine in 2007. Begich waited until January of this year to do so.
One of the big pieces of news to come out of Thursday’s gubernatorial debate in Kodiak:
Parnell re: 2016 “If I wanted to run for Senate, I would have done it this time when I was recruited to.” #akgov#aksen — Alexandra Gutierrez (@alexgutierrez) August 29, 2014
Parnell: I’m not running against Lisa Murkowski. I called and told her so. #akgov — Amanda Coyne (@Amanda_Coyne) August 29, 2014
Speaking of the governor’s race: Remember that ill-fated W²-dream ticket, where Bill Walker and state Sen. Bill Wielechowski would somehow team up and save the state, or the day, or at least the news cycle? Continue reading →
Abel Bult-Ito, a biochemist and the president of the University of Alaska’s 900-member faculty union, the largest within the university system, wrote a very long, very detailed letter to the chair of the University of Alaska’s Board of regents, Pat Jacobson, objecting to UA president Pat Gamble’s recently-approved $320,000 retention bonus. Among other things, Bult-Ito writes that because details of the bonus were not disclosed prior to the meeting in June where the bonus was approved, the board must take the issue up again when it next meets in September. Read the full letter here.
The bonus was offered by the Board of Regents on the condition that Gamble stay until 2016. It was offered during a time when the university system is facing budget deficits and is in the process of laying off faculty. Continue reading →
Shell’s campaign to resume Arctic drilling in 2015 took a major step forward Thursday, as the company gave federal regulators a broad drilling blueprint that lays out plans for boring new exploratory oil wells in the Chukchi Sea. The exploration plan filed with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in Anchorage keeps the door open for Shell Oil Co. to resume its Arctic drilling campaign as soon as summer 2015. It is the strongest evidence yet that Shell’s new CEO, Ben van Beurden, is willing to keep pursuing a big discovery in the U.S. Arctic, after a mishap-plagued 2012 exploration campaign ended with the grounding of the company’s Kulluk drilling rig and a $200 million loss for scrapping it.
Production, if it happens at all, is up to a decade away. Still, the big challenge now for the state’s federal delegation is to get a revenue sharing bill passed so that the state can share in the spoils with the feds, if there are any. A bill was proposed last year by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, and co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, which would have given Alaska and other coastal states up to 37.5 percent of federal royalty revenue for energy production off their coastlines. The bill was opposed by environmental groups who oppose offshore drilling. It got one hearing in the Senate Energy Committee, and is now languishing, even though Landrieu is chair of the committee and Murkowski is a ranking member.
If the first Senate debate of the general election could be boiled down to a few lines from the candidates, it would be these:
Sen. Mark Begich: Regardless of the party I belong to, we’re all friends. I’m working for you. Let’s keep that friendship going.
Dan Sullivan: We need different friends. You might not know me yet, but in the long run, I’ll be better for you than Begich. And besides, I want to repeal ObamaCare.
The debate, only eight days after the primary, was sponsored by the libertarian/tea party group, United for Liberty, and was moderated by Dave Cuddy, from the First National Bank of Alaska family. Cuddy ran against Ted Stevens in the 1996 and the 2008 Republican primaries. However, save for a young man in the audience who, at the end of the night started screaming about saving babies, the crowd seemed relatively tea-party free. If anything, Begich supporters dominated.
Who won? It depends on whether or not you’re inclined to want to continue on with the relationship with Begich. Continue reading →
The first Senate debate of the general election is being held tonight between Sen. Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan. It’ll start at 7 p.m. at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium at the UAA campus. It’ll be live-streamed on ADN’s website here. I’ll be tweeting @Amanda_Coyne and will post a story post-debate. The debate is moderated by United For Liberty, a libertarian/tea party group. The moderator is Dave Cuddy, from the First National Bank of Alaska family, who ran against Ted Stevens in the 1996 and the 2008 Republican primaries. Cuddy moderated a Senate debate before the Republican primary.
Below is GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s new ad, his second of the general election season. It’s unclear how wise it is to run a political ad telling you how aggravating political ads are. But then again, it’s one eye-catching way to get the public to watch Sullivan shoot a gun. It’s also a reminder that Sen. Mark Begich declined an agreement offered by Sullivan in June that would have kept super-PAC money out of the race. An internal Sullivan poll conducted in June by Moore Information found that 65 percent of those polled said that Begich should sign the agreement. Even 52 percent of those who are supporting Begich said he should. Begich’s campaign shot back on Tuesday afternoon, noting Sullivan’s support for Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that allowed unlimited spending by super-PACs.
The April 2015 Anchorage mayoral race just got one-more-person interesting. First term Chugiak/Eagle River Assemblywoman Amy Demboski, a rising star in conservative circles, is throwing her hat in the ring. Demboski is a paralegal with an MBA from Columbia Southern University. She said in a statement that she will be “a stoic voice for the taxpayers, focusing on fiscal restraint, essential city services, accountability, and ethical leadership.”
Demboski has agreed with, and campaigned on, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s proposals to rein in the power of the unions. Demboski’s husband is a fire captain and a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which is part of a strong coalition of union members that have fought Sullivan’s proposals. Continue reading →
Vilifying the billionaire Koch brothers, who have been top contributors to conservative, free market causes and candidates, is a major goal of the national Democrats , in order to undercut the brothers’ messages and influence. Some, like the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel, thinks that it’s working. She cites decreased giving to the Republican Party and Republican super-PACs as evidence, saying that such attacks against the Koch brothers have made Republican donors “skittish.” (The hundreds of millions they put in Mitt Romney’s losing campaign also didn’t help). In any case, as the ADN’s Nat Herz first wrote, it’s unclear if this latest attempt to go after Sullivan via the Kochs is going to work in Fairbanks, where the ad, courtesy of the International Association of Firefighters’ super-PAC, is running. It is perhaps too much of a step removed, and as many in Fairbanks know, there’s lots of blame to go around in that Koch-brothers refinery closure. Then again, it’s Fairbanks, and it’s always been hard to predict what the people up there are going to do and what’s going to take hold. It’s conservative country, but not corporate-conservative country, as evidenced by the whopping 56 percent who voted to repeal Ballot Measure 1. That vote doesn’t bode well for Sullivan, who fought against repealing the measure, and more problematic yet, doesn’t at all exude a populist vibe.
Whether the ad works or not, the photoshoppped ghost-of-Sullivan at the end of the ad is kind of fun. Watch the ad here.
For a while, there were tres amigos in the Valley who were running as independents against incumbents. Now, uno went adios and now there are dos. Independent hopeful candidate Steve Jacobson failed to obtain the requisite 50 signatures in House District 8 by the deadline to be placed on the ballot. Consequently, incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Neuman will only face one opponent, Democrat Pam Rahn, who only got 561 votes in the primary to Neuman’s 2215.
No one knows what is going to happen with the makeup of the Legislature following Election Day. My crystal ball, which I have to say myself was crystal clear about the primaries, is pretty cloudy right now. But one thing is likely: there will be at least a few more women in the House, and if they band together, they could be pretty powerful. One thing that isn’t for certain: that the women can band together at all. The last I checked, they couldn’t even agree that affordable child care for their constituents was a priority, say nothing of what to do about it if it were a priority.
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is getting a little help from his friends: Monday, Sen. Begich hosted a round table discussion with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – Hawaii) at the Alaska Veterans Museum with Alaska women vets to discuss the need for reforms and resources at the VA. Later that night, Gabbard joined Sen. Begich and the Alaska Democratic Party for a fundraiser to benefit their Alaska Victory Fund at the Anchorage home of Russ and Sharon Winner. On Tuesday evening, Begich is getting some more help, Continue reading →
Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker released the results of a poll that he commissioned by Anchorage-based Hays Research Group that shows that if the choice were between Walker and Gov. Sean Parnell, Walker would be beating Parnell by 2 points. The spread is even wider if those “leaning” toward Walker are included. Democratic candidate Byron Mallott was not mentioned in the survey.
The poll of 474 voters was conducted August 20 – 22. It says that about 39 percent would vote for Walker, and that 4.4 percent are leaning Walker. Parnell would get about 37 percent of the vote with another 2.7 percent leaning Parnell. The margin of error is 4.5 percent. Fifteen percent of the electorate is still undecided.
All the writing and talking about Brad Keithley’s pledge not to join a caucus that requires them to vote on the budget as a condition of membership, may be moot, for incumbent legislators anyway. Incumbents are guided by the Legislative Ethics Act. (Non-incumbents go to APOC for guidance and opinions, which don’t always comport to Ethics. It’s a mess. But that’s another story.) In April, the Legislative Ethics Committee addressed the issue of pledges in exchange for monetary support, which Keithley is offering. Keithley said that he will put up to $200,000 of his own money into supporting candidates who demonstrate support for a sustainable budget. One key way to demonstrate that is to sign the pledge, he wrote.
Legislators have been in touch with Legislative Ethics, looking for guidance. When they do, they have been sent to the following opinion that seems to indicate that signing such pledge under such conditions violates the Legislative Ethics Act: Continue reading →