Monthly Archives: September 2014

Tweets of the night: #At1400Pennsylvania with Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin wowed the crowd while speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. on Friday. Among other things, she said that she understood, first hand, how Christian conservatives were treated by liberals and the “lamestream” media:

The lies that they tell about you, calling you the intolerant ones, the haters, the bigots.  Oh, and that disgusting charge of being racist.  I’m speaking to the most slandered group in America today. Join me in telling the lamestream media that we wear their scorn with pride …They scream racism just to end debate.  Well, don’t retreat.  You reload with the truth, which I know is an endangered species at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Oops. 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue is the address of the Willard Hotel. Depending on what search engine you use, it’s also the address of the Peacock Alley at the Willard, which is a place you can have a nice dessert with a cup of tea.

It’s times like these that make you wonder what we ever did without twitter. Here’s just a sampling:

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Best ad of the political cycle? Meet state House candidate McGee

In my opinion, the best ad of the political cycle so far hasn’t come from the fancy East Coast ad firms who make millions on these things. It hasn’t come from any of the statewide candidates, nor from any stuffed super-PAC. Rather, in my opinion, the best ad so far has come from Democratic state House candidate Marty McGee, who’s running in an open seat in West Anchorage. He’ll face Republican Liz Vazquez in the general. Because of the crowded media field, the ad is only playing on the web for now.

McGee was a life-long Republican until he was fired by Gov. Sean Parnell from the State Assessment and Review Board, which is responsible for assessing the value of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. That number determines property taxes for municipalities along the TAPS route. Tens of millions are at stake. McGee wanted a higher number. The oil companies argued for a lower number. Parnell initially filled his spot from someone from California with ties to the oil industry until he withdrew from consideration.

None of this is mentioned in the ad. Instead, it focuses on the personal, including on McGee choking-up. But what Josh Corbett–the local videographer who’s working for the Dems this election cycle–does particularly well are the small touches: the old work-boots, the daughter’s hoodie, the over-grown lawns, the weeds, the idiosyncratic house. It feels real, in the best way.


Anchorage pollster Hellenthal has Parnell up by 10 over Walker in governor’s race

Local pollster Marc Hellenthal’s most recent poll has Gov. Sean Parnell beating “unaffiliated” candidate Bill Walker by 10 points in the governor’s race. Hellenthal polled 400 Alaskans via landlines and cell phones between Sept. 12-24. The poll was not paid for by any of the gubernatorial candidates or groups associated with the governor’s race. Neither of the candidate’s lieutenant governors, whose names will be on the ballot along Parnell and Walker, were mentioned in the poll.

So far, the numbers have been all over the place. A recent PPP poll showed Walker up by 1 percentage point. A recent poll conducted by Hays Research for the Alaska AFL-CIO showed Walker up by 8 points. An internal poll conducted for Parnell’s campaign had Parnell up by 5 points.

Here’s a screen-grab of a chart from Hellenthal’s poll. The “general election,” category is Hellenthal’s prediction if the undecideds were divvied up between the three candidates.

Hellenthall Parnell-Walker horserace


Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 9.26

  • Mineweb is reporting that on Thursday a federal court judge has validated an agreement that the EPA would stay its regulatory process against the Pebble Mine Project until no earlier than January 2, 2015.
  • Susan Estrich, a well-known Democratic operative and former Michael Dukakis aide, wrote a piece the first appeared on the syndication service that slammed Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign for using a “Willie Horton-style ad” against his opponent, Dan Sullivan. Her article is gaining traction with postings and/or links in the Washington Free Beacon and The Courier.
  • Lena Dunham is using her Millennial clout to urge her Girls fans to support Democratic candidates this November by specifically naming certain Republican Senate candidates, including Alaska’s Dan Sullivan, in a mass email from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Her last involvement with GOTV was through a controversial ad that compared her First Time to her First Voting Experience.
  • The ADN has a must-read on the resignation of Alaska’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs deputy commissioner McHugh Pierre at the governor’s request. It reports that Pierre “inserted himself into one of the inquiries into the alleged sexual misconduct of a married recruiter, an incident of which Parnell’s office was aware. The recruiter, a high school classmate of Pierre’s from the late 1990s,” was accused of sexual harassment. It was recommended that the recruiter be discharged. Nothing came of it after Pierre got involved, however. Deputy chief of state Cindy Sims was aware of the situation as of June.

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Another local poll shows Senate candidate Sullivan leading against Begich

All told, three Senate polls came out on Thursday, all of which show that if the election were held today, GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan would beat Sen. Mark Begich by varying degrees. Anchorage-based Dittman Research released a poll of 800 Alaskans paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Sullivan, showing him up by 6 percentage points. Rasmussen Reports, which is known as a conservative-leaning pollster, showed Sullivan up by 5 points.

Another local pollster, Marc Hellenthal, has Sullivan up 4.5 percent in a head-to-head. Hellenthal polled 400 Alaskans between Sept. 12-24. The poll was not paid for by any Senate candidate or group associated with the Senate race. Although his, like the others, shows Sullivan up, “All is not doom and gloom” for Begich, Hellenthal said. Begich has a wider margin of certain voters than does Sullivan. Begich has 35.4 percent of voters who feel strongly or moderately strong about voting for him, compared to 33.4 percent for Sullivan.

Here’s a screen grab from Hellenthal’s polls. The “general election,” category is Hellenthal’s prediction if the undecideds were divvied up between the three candidates:  Continue reading


Sullivan’s charge about Begich’s amnesty vote rated ‘False’ by national fact-checking group

The national fact checking group Politifact—one that both Republicans and Democrats use when it suits them– has labeled a charge leveled by Senate candidate Dan Sullivan against Sen. Mark Begich about immigration “false.”

In fundraising emails and on the stump, Sullivan has been saying that Begich was the deciding vote to give Obama executive authority to grant citizenship for illegal aliens. In fact, what Begich voted on was to block a Republican-sponsored amendment that would have denied Obama such authority in some specific cases. He voted to block the amendment because it would have slowed down the larger bill that, among other things, contained funding for Syrian rebels, which he also opposes. Begich was the only red-state Democrat to vote to block the amendment.

Here’s Politifact’s conclusion:

Begich never voted on this question. In reality, Begich voted “no” on a procedural measure, along with 49 other senators. As a result, an amendment regarding immigration policy did not come up for a vote. It’s debatable whether this amendment really addressed “executive amnesty,” and it had little chance of passing even if it hadn’t been blocked. Begich’s vote did not increase Obama’s authority, as Sullivan’s statement makes it seem. Rather, it maintained the status quo.

We rate this claim False.


U.S. Chamber endorses Sullivan for Senate. Releases poll that shows him up by 6 over Begich. Says they will spend ‘what it takes.’

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich trails GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan by a six-point margin, according to a new poll conducted for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by Anchorage-based Dittman Research, which polls mostly for Republicans and has a history of accurate polling in the state. The Chamber officially endorsed Sullivan on Thursday.

The poll, conducted Sept. 14-17, surveyed 800 likely voters in live phone interviews. It showed that Sullivan leads Begich by 49 percent to 43 percent, with only four percent undecided.

Also worrisome for Begich is that Sullivan has a 12-point lead among those who say they are “extremely” interested in the election. In a generic question, 54 percent of the voters think it’s time to give someone another chance at the job, 32 percent approve of Obama and 69 percent of the voters think the country is on the “wrong track.”

The poll was released following a press conference in Anchorage with Rob Engstrom, the U.S. Chamber’s national political director, who flew to Anchorage to announce the endorsement. (And was met with an earthquake while he was doing so. See the video below.) The U.S. Chamber had already endorsed Sullivan in the primary, but it hadn’t yet done so in the general. The endorsement from the behemoth will bring a slew of Chamber-financed ads through the group’s political arm.

Engstrom declined Continue reading


Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 9.25

  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart skewered some of the U.S. Senate campaign ads. At 4:07 in the segment, the now Alaska infamous snow machine/snow mobile ads became national fodder. Enjoy.
  • The educational powerhouse known as the Great Alaska Schools has released not only their endorsed candidates, but also their answers to GAS’ questionnaires. It is an interesting read, especially Mia Costello’s seven unanswered questions regarding base student allocation (the money schools get per student to pay for things like heat, supplies, etc.).
  • The NRA’s political arm is staying out of the U.S. Senate race citing Sen. Mark Begich’s votes for NRA-opposed Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
  • BreitBart reports that U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s campaign has released an ad mocking yesterday’s Mark Begich’s sheepish facial reaction to his mom and wife debating on the best adjective to describe him in Begich’s “cheap chic ad.”
  • Planning to capture some of the 57.4 million acres of Alaska’s beautiful federally protected wilderness via photograph or video? Not so fast. According to the Juneau Empire, the U.S. Forest Service is planning on requiring potential photographers/videographers to purchase special permits to bring home visual memories of their experience. How much?  The Forest Service finalizes this new policy in November with the potential of charging fees up to $1,500.

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Loose Lips: Polls, pot and parties.

15770860_mKarl Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads, had a film crew in Anchorage this week filming. But then again, who didn’t?

Aki, whose real name is the awesomely unpronounceable Vasilios Gialopsos, has accepted a position with the AK Department of Revenue to serve as the commissioner’s special assistant / legislative liaison. Previously, he served as a legislative staffer to Rep. Charisse Millett. Aki’s family owns the Little Italy restaurant in Anchorage.

On Tuesday evening, Sens. Kevin Meyer, Mike Dunleavy and Pete Kelly held a joint fundraiser at the Petroleum Club. During the short campaign speeches, it was proudly pointed out to the pro-development crowd attending, that all three of the senators received an “F” rating from the Alaska Conservation voters. About 40 people were there, including: Eddie Grasser; Pebble Partnership’s John Shively; Steve Nerland; John and Jan Ellsworth; GCI’s Tina Pidgeon; Rebecca Logan; sports fishing enthusiast Bob Penney and his grandson Curtis from Northwest Strategies; Sen. Cathy Geisel; Steve Colligan; Judy Eledge; Kara Moriarty; Miles Baker; soon to be elected senator Bill Stoltze and Anchorage mayoral hopeful Dan Coffey.

Concurrently, the Marijuana Initiative hearing was taking place at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage and former KTVA reporter, “Ms. F##ck it,” Charlo Greene, testified, to no one’s surprise, on behalf of legalization. Greene, whose real name is Charlene Ebg, brought her potty mouth and her gang of hecklers with her, all of which seemed to make staid Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell uncomfortable.

The Anchorage courthouse on Friday is the place to be. Continue reading


NRA decides not to endorse in Alaska Senate race

In what is likely a disappointment, the NRA has chosen not to endorse U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, even though he has a 100 percent legislative record on gun rights and has bucked his party when voting on gun restrictions. Most recently Begich did so amid huge pressure from his party, the president, gun restriction advocates and weeping mothers when he voted against a bill that would ban assault rifles and tighten up background checks. He was one of four Democrats to do so.

The NRA said it chose not to endorse Begich because of his votes for Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, both of whom the NRA opposed.

The group gave Begich an “A minus” rating, and GOP candidate Dan Sullivan an “A q” rating, the “q” standing for “qualified” because although he filled out the group’s questionnaire to their satisfaction, Sullivan doesn’t yet have a legislative record.

Referring to attacks on Begich by Sullivan on Begich’s gun record, Ed Kilgore with the Washington Monthly wrote that voting pro-gun isn’t giving Democrats like Begich cover. “(N)o one should be under any illusion that defensive voting on individual issues will provide any significant political protection these days,” he said even before the NRA announced that it wasn’t endorsing Begich.


Pro-Begich super-PAC hits Sullivan on abortion

I missed this ad from the pro-Begich super-PAC, Put Alaska First, released on Sept. 19. I’ve said before that Put Alaska First is running the best ads of the political cycle, and this one is no exception and should appeal to the majority of Alaskans who are pro-choice.

Begich has always been staunchly pro-choice, a stance that is unique among vulnerable red-state Democrats. The issue, however, has gotten more complicated since Begich said that he supports pro-life candidate, Bill Walker, for governor. Though Walker filled out a questionnaire in 2010 that said that he would support pro-life legislation and initiatives in Alaska, this time around he has said that social issues won’t be his focus. However, Senate candidate Dan Sullivan has made similar statements.



Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 9.24

  • The Daily Journal is reporting that the mighty political arm of the NRA has endorsed Gov. Sean Parnell for his re-election campaign. Parnell has been awarded an A+ rating, which is the gold standard here in Alaska.
  • KTOO reports that because of a dip in government employment, Juneau failed to add jobs for the first time in three years in 2013.
  • In an effort led by Assemblyman Dick Traini, who had been coordinating with the anti-pot people, the Anchorage Assembly almost unanimously voted against Ballot Measure 2 last night during their Assembly meeting. Ballot Measure 2 would increase marijuana legalization policies in Alaska. According to APRN, Chairman Patrick Flynn objected to the municipality weighing in on state issues stating, “I think it’s more of an irritant than an attractant for the position we take.” Vote No #2 was quick to spread the word via twitter on the Assembly’s support.
  • TMZ has the scoop on a story that couldn’t be better for the anti-pot people. The site reports that a neighbor of Ms. “F##ck this I quit” Charlo Greene filed a restraining order against her more than two weeks ago. The restraining order alleges plumes of pot smoke from Greene’s apartment were wafting through the halls, into his own apartment, making his 4-year-old sick. When the neighbor confronted Greene, she told him to “watch his back,” the restraining order says.
  • The Huffington Post has an article that breaks down current minimum wage realities in the U.S.
  • The little-heard-from Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Care Clift gave an in-depth interview with Andrew Wellner in the Frontiersman.

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Comment of the day: A ‘double dog dare’ to come up with ideas to increase revenue

Here’s a comment left on this site from former Ketchikan Rep. Kyle Johansen about another reader’s comment on Brad Keithley’s legislative “hit list,” and about the current fiscal situation. Get background here and here. Read here for the reference to Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s comments about the Permanent Fund.

Aside from the efforts of Mr. Keithley, his supporters and his detractors, when the dust settles Alaska will still have to make a choice in the revenue streams needed to fund future state government operations.

The fact is our deficit spending is currently approaching one billion dollars per year. A spike in short term oil prices (similar to the one experienced post the aforementioned 1999 advisory vote, and subsequent others) will release the pressure and kick the can down the road once again. Eventually, we will have to stand tall before the reality.

The real options for policymakers include increased taxes on industry (SB 21 sealed the big one for a few years, fishermen already pay off the gross and good luck with any large tax-producing mining projects going forward and gas revenue will be a meek shadow of oil revenue, if it happens at all), implementation of personal income taxes (there are simply not enough local or seasonal people), implementation of personal property taxes (the Feds own most of it, tax-free) or a statewide sales tax (a main revenue source for municipalities) OR accessing the revenue stream created by the earnings of the Permanent Fund. If there are other options, please post them and start talking about them now (and I double dog dare anybody to come up with anything other than “Increased Oil Production” Let’s just try it, come on!).

I read on this site the comments of current Anchorage Mayor and Lt. Governor Candidate Sullivan regarding the earnings reserve. Continue reading


Begich reaffirms support for air strikes in Syria

On Tuesday, U.S. Senate Mark Begich reaffirmed his support for airstrikes against the Islamic group ISIS, and commended the five Arab nations–Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—for their participation in the strikes.

“These airstrikes are crucial to combat ISIS and destroy its network of facilities,” Begich said in a statement.

The strikes began on Monday night, and have focused on Ragga, an Isis stronghold in Syria. ISIS targets around other Syrian cities were also hit in the strikes. The U.S. hit another group– Khorasan Group—which was believed to be plotting against the West. Begich also supported those strikes.

Begich reiterated however that he doesn’t support arming Syrian rebels, which both the President and GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan support. In a telephonic town hall recently, Begich said that he worries that today’s U.S.-friendly “moderate rebels,” might be tomorrow’s enemies.

“Just like ISIS was a year and a half ago – they were part of these rebels, and now they’re the problem,” Begich said.