A new day in Alaska politics? Or back to the future?

For many across the state, including this writer, the excitement and bipartisan spirit that has accompanied the merger of an unaffiliated ticket comprised of Bill Walker, a Republican and Byron Mallott, a Democrat, is infectious. It’s a new day in Alaska, they said at the press conference on Tuesday officially announcing the merger. We’re doing it for the best of the state, they said.

It all felt familiar. Déjà vu for the politico in you. Scott Heyworth, a former Palin disciple, said to me, “This feels like when Sarah Palin won, but better!”

Indeed it did feel like 2005, when Palin won her party’s nomination for governor. Her message then was largely centered around creating a bi-partisan team that was going to do what was right for Alaska, party politics be damned.

Walker vowed that he was going to “field the best and brightest Alaskans across the state.” He said, “Partisan politics will not have a place in our administration.”

Palin, also said that her administration would be filled with the best Alaskans from both sides of the aisle. And it was, until it wasn’t.

On Tuesday, the crowd—about 150 or so—cheered loudly for the new team. Many of them, for a moment at least, were so caught up in the spirit, that they forgot that for years, they had been proud, card-carrying members of their respective parties.

But if any Republican is going to make Democrats forget that they gave up the top of their ticket for the first time in history, it would be Walker. He’s anti-oil, pro-union, and has enough Wally Hickel-meets Jay Hammond in him to win the hearts of Democrats who have lionized the two. History, for the Dems, have been soft on the pair. They seem to have forgotten that Hickel was more radically pro-life and pro-development than any other governor before him, and that Hammond, in a nasty fight, beat one of Alaska’s beloved Democrats, Gov. Bill Egan, out of his seat.

When you’re talking to Walker, it’s easy to forget the things about him that might make Dems squirm. Namely, that he’s pro-life, for one, against gay marriage and that he fought vigorously for a parental notification law. He promises to keep all of that away from government, and he says it with enough conviction that enough people believe him.

And if there’s doubt that the ticket will have a Democratic voice, there’s always the steadfast, accomplished, Byron Mallott to convince those who are still unconvinced. Walker assured the crowd on Tuesday that Mallott wouldn’t be relegated to a position down the hall, and that Mallott would have an active role in the administration.

However, when he spoke to a group of tea party libertarian types on that same night, he assured them that he was the governor and that he had the ultimate say.

He said that because it’s the truth.

Let me be clear here: I do not wish to be the one to do a narrative version of an ice-bucket challenge on the party. Because having both of those two in charge could be a very good thing for the state. Perhaps partisanship is something that is tearing the state apart. Perhaps we would all be better off if we got rid of all parties forever. And perhaps it’s ultimately better to have party leaders nullify more than 80,000 collective votes, including my own, for Byron Mallott for governor and Hollis French for lieutenant governor, that were cast in the primary. As one party official said, “It can’t get any worse.”

But let’s also be clear that a public process—the ones that Democrats often say is sacrosanct–wasn’t just fiddled with. It was shredded. Remember how Democrats howled when Rep. Lindsey Holmes switched from Democrat to Republican? Imagine the reaction had she been replaced by a completely different person. Meet your new legislator, Sue Smith!

At the press conference. I asked how the public could be assured that “process” would be followed under a Bill Walker-Byron Mallott ticket. They said, “trust us.”

I’ll trust them. I’m playing, for a while at least, if nothing else but because Gov. Sean Parnell has been such a miserable communicator, so nonresponsive to those outside of his close circle of likeminded big-spending conservatives. Even his response to the announcement—to try to tie the pair to Obama–was flat-footed and off-key, and only proved Walker and Mallott’s point.

So it feels like a new day in Alaska, and new days are always invigorating. If nothing else, they allow for good copy.

But here’s something that’s niggling at me: When Sarah Palin was elected in 2006, Gov. Frank Murkowski was on the verge of a gasline deal. I’ve done as much research into that as I can handle doing, and still I don’t know if it was a very bad, or a mediocre deal. But there was a framework that was years in the making. Palin brought a new team in, a new day, and ripped it up.

What did we get? We spent hundreds of millions on something called the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. The new plan was something that looked and sounded good in principle, but in reality it didn’t work. I know many of the architects of AGIA–some of whom were in the room on Tuesday–and I know they had the very best intentions for the state, but it was a failure that might have set the state back a decade, or more.

Walker hasn’t spoken about the gasline as much as he did when he ran for governor in 2010. But he did say at the press conference that he would be the governor that would finally see dirt moving and a pipeline built. And he told me later that he wouldn’t start over and that he would work with what’s been negotiated, as long as Alaska was in charge of the process.

The way that the current contract is written, all four players — Exxon, the State of Alaska, ConocoPhillips and BP — need to agree on key aspects before the project moves forward.

So under Walker, it appears that the project, that’s currently in pre-feed, would have to be re-negotiated. Again, this might be for the best, but it would take years, and it would require a Legislature to be on board.

And it’s a Legislature composed of people, not all of whom have signed on to this new spirit of bipartisanship. Many of them didn’t sign on to it when Palin was elected either.

Look how that turned out.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


39 thoughts on “A new day in Alaska politics? Or back to the future?

  1. jack

    they cannot buy the oil. It`s against the state constitution. They lease the production rights. But You knew that.

  2. Garand Fellow

    Jack, that is silly. 17 billion barrels of oil is not gridlock. And the producers are not contractors, they don’t work for us. They bought the oil. They took the risk. Alaskans took no risk. Alaskans sold them the oil. And if you think Alaskans have been struggling these past 40 years you should not wait around for the final chapter. I have no interest in the oil companies and have never been involved in that business, but facts are facts. Sorry to be so blunt but your account of the Alaska oil business is more fictional than the Hunger Games and less entertaining.

  3. jack

    “The way that the current contract is written, all four players — Exxon, the State of Alaska, ConocoPhillips and BP — need to agree on key aspects before the project moves forward.” Amanda the current working agreement on our slope with oil allows any ONE of the three to stop or delay a project they are not seen to be making a return from..or as high a return as they seek. That has led to gridlock getting our gas off the slope for thirty years. Thirty years of struggling for affordable heat and breathing bad air every winter… and all this as the TAPS line rolled tight by those good Alaskans. The veto they have over one another allows them control, and not the owners. We need to change the veto formula on the slope and in any gasline deals. No veto`s. If you don`t want in then fine. Your interest is for sale to the other partners. That protects Alaska and that`s the way leases should operate. We gave our fiscal sovereignty away to get the oil money. It has cost the state billions lost to a controlling cartel. Byron and Bill will fix that inequity and take lease control back to the state. It`s our land and our oil and gas. They are hired to pump it. They know where the oil and gas is. Ask them. They won`t tell us. AND WE OWN IT!!!!

  4. John Smith

    Did you consider him a moderate before or after he decided to point forces with the Democrat nominee? Was he a moderate when he ran previously? Was he a moderate when he was cow tailing to the tea party for votes in his previous run? I think the word you are looking for is “opportunist”. Being an “opportunist” does not make one a “moderate”.

  5. Lynn Willis

    What does any candidate, who is not an incumbent, have other than “promises”. You can’t have a record if you were not in the position. Sean Parnell had nothing but promises before his election.
    I have told you that any Alaskan pipeline will need a supply of gas that has no better use for extraction of more valuable oil, a willing seller and a committed buyer, and financing. As I see it now no project, including Walker’s, have those things. Having two of the three, while encouraging, means nothing.
    Isn’t our Moody bond rating made by the same kind of folks who thought mortage backed securities were a great idea?

  6. CRUDE is RUDE

    Running for political office is like getting a long drawn out autopsy by apes in the zoo BEFORE you are dead.


    1974 Atigun Pass.. I was there standing in the quiet wind before we built the incline up Chandalar Shelf.
    I blew a rams-horn and could hear the bellowing tone echo thru the still virgin mountain valley below…
    the last gasp of natural wild beauty there, and 40 years of messy stinking greedy chaos followed.

  7. CRUDE is RUDE

    Alaskans Unite !!

    I try to avoid wasting too much time on political chatter, it usually resembles a bunch of over-caffienated dweebs dissecting a football game.

    As united Alaskans behind Walker/Mallott we already have plans for quickly installing many small diameter gaslines/fiberoptics all over Alaska.

    Watch this short youtube to see how it is done..

    We now have several different kinds of gasline flexpipe suppliers, here’s one..


    I know how to plow 8″ flexpipe 1500psi gasline for $200/foot
    ..you can’t beat it for speed of amortization
    This means; the cost of delivered gas is ALWAYS cheaper than big dumb steel pipe.
    Big dumb steel pipe has many other hidden pitfalls/expenses in Alaska that the “experts” sweep under the rug.

    Walker/Mallott says Studyhall is over, and old pipeliners like me mean it.. over the past 40 years Alaska has wasted over several billion dollars just studying how to do something I’d gladly tell you for FREE !!
    Add to that the several hundred-billion dollars Alaska has wasted by not taking my advice during public testimony at UAF in 1970-74 when we were planning TAPS.
    I was trying to educate everybody that gas is a superior feedstock compared to CRUDE..


    …so why don’t we have $2/gal gasoline all over railbelt??? GREED & STUPIDITY

    For the past century BigOil teamed with the Big3 automakers have never exceeded 10% thermodynamic efficiency for all of our hydrocarbons, this means for the past 40 years 90% of our precious resource has been wasted.
    …spilling a stuportanker full of gassy runny cheatoil dilbit CRUDE at Valdez in 1989 was just icing on the cowpie.
    Texas&London has wrecked Alaska
    Now BP is facing $18billion in federal fines again, and where are they gonna find that kind of cash??.. Alaska… BP’s board of directors in London is also behind the bogus PebbleMine project.
    I know how to properly manage Pebble for Alaskans with virtually ZERO footprint..
    99% local hire… natives like me and fishermen like me
    No roads, no powerlines, no gaslines necessary.. and this is no BS.
    it will be very prosperous for Alaska and great for the fish. But any bigshot corporation will not find it appealing to them. All they understand is TonkaTrucks and big mudholes.

    Anchorage is not he center of the universe…
    if you are a sucker for a megaproject follow me to Fukushima, we need to turn that mess into a LNG import terminal.

  8. Jon K

    Lynn – what is Walker’s central promise beyond the slogans: he will build a pipeline. But instead of having the state pay for 25 percent of the costs, he wants to kick all of the experts out and build it on our own so we “can control our destiny.” Worse he has said we don’t need to get a real cost estimate because he thinks we know enough about costs to get building now.

    What do you think this insane approach to building the largest infrastructure project in north american history will do to the state’s balance sheet? Given your concern about the budget the alone should disqualify him as a candidate.

    Worse then the stupidity of Walker’s approach to getting an LNG project built is the fact that he knows he is lying to Alaskans about how projects like this move forward. He doesn’t care bc he just wants to get elected so he tells Alaskans that he is just like Wally and will get this thing built.

    I am also well aware of the project’s challenges. I have never said this project will happen.

    If the state’s future is so bleak why did Moody’s retain our triple A rating?

  9. Lynn Willis

    The testimony of the experts concluded that the AKLNG project “could” work. Emphasis on “could”. However, they said the perils are many. This Alaskan is not willing to allow us to mortgage a “could work” proposition for our future. We are now going to obligate funds we simply do not have unless another “could work” idea of substantial increased oil production (revenue) is realized. I have pointed out to you the percentage of Unrestricted General Fund Revenues the AKLNG project will consume by 2021 if it gets that far. Facing those potential liabilities in these times, then to spend as Governor Parnell has encouraged with his budgets is the height of irresponsibility.
    To illustrate my deep concern with the Alaska legislature, let me share with you the statistical data posted on the legislative web site for the last legislature: Total Bills Introduced: 601, Bills Passed: 191. Jon, you know what number they won’t tell you is the number of bills defeated following a committee hearing and a vote to recommend “do not pass” and that recommendation is accepted by the body. Bills are not defeated in Alaska Jon, they are allowed to die from neglect by committee chairs empowered to ignore their own rules of procedure and simply refuse to hold a hearing. No explanation required. The “gate keeper” to the legislature is the chair of the Rules Committee. Do you remember when Parnell created a state job for the Chair of the Rules Committee while she was a sitting legislator? Why do think Bill Allen was so interested in committee chairs?
    I am now supporting Walker/Mallot. I initially supported Parnell and Palin before him so I obviously have a foggy crystal ball. I had lost faith in Parnell by the time he ran for Governor on his own because of the Dahlstrom hire. What I know now about both of them is based on their histories and on that basis I clearly see what an error I made. I will not support the status quo any loner. I do appreciate the adage that tells me when you are in a hole; the first step to take is stop digging. If Walker starts to act in his own self interest, places himself above the law, or seriously ignores the overall best interest of current and future Alaskans I will feel no obligation to support him any longer and will let you know.

  10. Milton Friedman

    You are a liar. There was a someone at the table looking out for the best interests of the Begich campaign. If Walker wins and hands commissioner titles to you and French as a pay off for your willingness to step aside, it will be an example of everything that is wrong with politics in Alaska. If that is your “vision of Alaska”, then I pity you. As a Veteran myself, I would encourage you to take your uniform out, look over it carefully, and then burn it. You and your ilk have betrayed the honor that the uniform represents.

  11. Anonymous

    I’m looking forward to the Shannyn Moore article explaining why she is voting for a pro-life, anti-gay, and anti-EPA at Pebble candidate.

  12. Outraged Alaskan

    Amanda, I usually love your reporting and writing. But, I am disappointed and outraged by your unabashed bias and cheerleading for Walker, who, until this point has been a lackluster candidate, and who now, has proven that he is nothing but a political opportunist who wants to be governor at all cost, even the voice of the people and the democratic process of an election. You sound like Chris Matthews cheering for Obama. Call yourself a commentator then, but don’t call yourself a journalist.

    You talk about Walker’s policies — which he has abandoned to improve his chances to be elected — with such a clear bias, insinuating that these same policies are outrageous and dangerous:

    “Namely, that he’s pro-life, for one, against gay marriage and that he fought vigorously for a parental notification law.”

    Those are all good and moral policies for the lives of unborn babies, the sanctity of families and the protection of minors and parental rights. But, this is not the place for you to sneak in your snicker at his policies. Sure, they make dems squirm but where is your balance about all the dem policies that should make Walker squirm? Where is your balance at all?

    “He promises to keep all of that away from government, and he says it with enough conviction that enough people believe him.”

    That is a man who has no convictions. He promises it because he has no convictions.

    You called for a the abolition of political parties as if it is a good thing. First of all, we are not going to all hold hands and sing Kumbaya and to even suggest that Walker means it when he says that’s what he wants in political terms, is laughable. Political parties are not a bad thing. Playing political games is. We do not all have the same values, convictions or ideas and so, obviously, there has to be different political parties. This isn’t kindergarten. In fact, given how diverse our great country is, we should have more than two dominant parties. The Canadians and the French have multiple political parties.

    But, while you advocate getting rid of political parties, you are championing the dirty politics played by Walker, Fleener and the dems. Your job — and the job of all journalists– is to be a professional skeptic, to question everything that anyone tells you, ESPECIALLY a politician, and to dig for evidence to disprove it or to support it, whichever you find first. You are falling for this crap, because that is what it is — after Walker and Mallott, in collusion with the democrats highjacked the election, kicked out the democrat candidate who rightfully won the primary for Lt. Gov. candidate and made their candidate for Governor take second place, and then had the audacity to say that they were ridding the state of playing party politics? Are you blind? What they just did IS PLAYING PARTY POLITICS! And they did this to get rid of Parnell and keep Begich. This is a conservative state. If you hate conservative values so much, find a new place to live.

    I am no fan of Hollis French or Craig Fleener but what Walker and Mallott and the dems did to them is so underhanded, so unethical, so self-serving and sleazy that it needs to be called out for what it is. THAT is your job, Amanda. Walker has shown his true colors. He is faithful to no one: not his party, not his personal convictions, not his running mate and therefore, he will certainly not be faithful to Alaska. Walker is out for himself and to get rid of Parnell. So, he’s a vindictive opportunist. He dumped Fleener, whom he fiercely defended when he put his foot in his mouth with his lie about Parnell being stuck in traffic and then he sold his soul and his convictions to side with the democrats One goes into politics precisely to affect it with one’s personal convictions! Otherwise, why bother? So, either he is a mediocre, luke-warm conservative, a conservative in name only, a democrat pretending to be a republican or a man with no convictions at all, which makes him more dangerous than anyone. He’ll be swayed by whatever wind blows his way. Pick a story and stick with it, Walker. To compare him to Hickel is an outrage. He’s more like John Kerry. Wishy-washy, luke-warm, flip-flopper.

    The only correct and unbiased thing you said was how the dems shredded a sacrosanct public process — the election process. The dems mercilessly and publicly crucified Lindsey Holmes and they just culluded with a republican to try to unseat Parnell because of their vitriol against him. Where is the public outrage? The dems owe Lindsey Holmes a very public apology. But, you, Amanda, were appeased with Walker’s PR response, “Trust us” and in your “reporting,” you are essentially telling your readers to do the same. If this weren’t so egregious, it would be ridiculous.

    I hope that the political collusion done by these self-serving opportunists backfires in as big of a way as their superficial performance in this drama.

    In reading your comments, I am even more disappointed that you would lump your reader Mae in with Lynn, Garand, Jon K. and Derp as possible guest bloggers. Mae is inarticulate, petty, ignorant, illogical, irrational and most people ignore for that very reason.

    I am saddened by the loss of good writing, reporting and balanced thought. I always defended you on here when people attacked you and claimed you were biased. Perhaps I missed a few of your posts and they knew better than I did. It’s not a good day for Alaska when Walker, Mallott and the Dems get away with what they did and “journalists” applaud them. It’s a very sad day for Alaska and for anyone who is looking for unbiased reporting.

  13. Derp's friend

    Hello, Derp. Walker is NOT a moderate. He’s also NOT a pricipled man. In fact, the more I learn about him, the more I realize he’s like Begich, willing to say anything. And always willing to throw a belief or value out the window without remorse.
    Walker is a right-wing zealot. At least he was. Now, who knows. What this tells me is that he has no values and he says “trust me.” The word is that he has no core. This is becoming painfully clear.

  14. Arctic Urbanophile

    I can sympathize with doing it all yourself, particularly if you have a 9-5. Mine doesn’t get updated enough. If you want to use anything from my site feel free. It’s mostly urban planning related, but there are a few social/political commentary pieces.

  15. Derp

    I think the word you were probably looking for is “moderate”, and it makes perfect sense why AKns of both parties would find him a good candidate for Gov

  16. Derp

    Pick your attack, Anon. Walker can’t be both a Republican, and a not-Republican “who abandoned his party”

  17. Anonymous

    Democrats voting for a Republican at the head of the ticket? Why? Republicans voting for a guy who abandoned the party for political convenience and says he won’t support his core social beliefs, plus a Democrat waiting in the wings to take over if the occasion arose? Why? These two are opposed to the will of the legislature that has now been ratified by the voters (SB21) – so why should anyone support this disjointed ticket that lacks any defining principle, only slogans? Not for me.

  18. Jon K

    Let me clarify: BP, CP, Exxon, and TC have spent hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money to advance the gas commercialization effort over the last several years. This money is being spent to get a better understanding of all of the components of the LNG project – gas treatment plant, gas pipeline, liquefaction, storage, and shipping.

    On top of the hundreds of millions they have spent and have committed to spend on the LNG project, BP,CP, and Exxon are spending over $4 billion at Point Thomson. The initial phase of this project will be 10,000 barrels of gas condensate per day which will go into TAPS. Exxon doesn’t spend billions for 10k barrels/d. The ONLY way these guys will get a return on their investment is by commercializing the gas.

    And the $3 to $4 billion is based on $16 LNG. See the April 15, 2014 Black & Veatch slide deck presented to House Finance. It says the state will bring in between $3 to $4 billion depending on our equity stake, TC’s role, and $16 LNG sales. Go to Basis to see the document.

    The Chinese are here – you just don’t know it. They are financing a lot of deals in this state. There has also been extensive outreach to Asian customers from this Administration. These discussions have been going on for several years.

    As far as financing is concerned, just wait until next session. At that point we will have made more progress and will have a much firmer handle on the costs and the commercial discussions will begin in earnest.

    Finally, I completely agree that this project is challenged. We have a lot of hurdles to overcome. And there is a ton of competition. I am under no illusion that this project will happen. That said, the progress to date is real and Exxon is, for the first time, very serious about moving this forward.

  19. Garand Fellow

    Jon K. No, everything I have seen in legislative committees indicates that to bring $4 billion to the GF each year the gas will have sell in the Far East at $24. And oil patch investments cannot be used as evidence of producer commitment unless the amounts filtered by tax credits and expenses is used. Remember, under AGIA the largest amount of money came from the state and went to TransCanada as bagman. But more importantly, this imaginary deal has none of the traits and hallmarks we would expect to see with a $60 to $85 billion proposal if anyone was taking it seriously. Chinese and Japanese customers are not represented in Juneau, and no one is watching the legislation on their behalf. Has it occurred to you that the Chinese are all over the Canadian oil patch but you don’t see them in Alaska?

    Perhaps even more telling is that no one is coming to pitch financing schemes. During the Murkowski deal-making era every investment banker and all of the large commercial banks were in Juneau constantly throughout the session and periodically during the interim. A few came in their own jets, and many Alaskans commented about how hurtful jet envy was (who knew?). One more or less established an office in Juneau just for the gas line. An investment banking firm that has a petroleum trading office in Calgary had those people coming to town with proposal after proposal. Now we have only Dan Fauske and Tony Palmer, and the odd consultant (some quite odd), all being paid by the state general fund. Because of basic economics (as in distance from tidewater), shale gas, projects pretty far along in many parts of the world, and yes, perhaps even the obstacles people invent for big projects in Alaska I’m afraid this latest gas line exists only in the hearts and minds of Alaskans; God please give us …..

  20. Jon K


    I don’t know nearly enough about the shennigans with legislators to comment, but SB 138 (the AK LNG bill) was by far the biggest and most consequential bill the Alaska legislature voted on last session – and perhaps one of the most important bills in the state’s history. The Administration worked its ass off explaining a very complicated bill to legislators and it won over a lot of fierce critics – from Mike Hawker to Les Gara to Garran Tarr and the bill passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support – I believe it was 52-8. Another example of bi-partisan outreach on a complicated and highly charged issues was the re-authorization of Coastal Zone Management. Again the Administration worked very hard to secure bi-partisan support. The bill passed the House 40-0. Unfortunately, Lymann Hoffman insisted on making seven (I believe) changes to the bill. Parnell went along with 5 (or so) of his changes, but couldn’t agree to two of them – so the bill failed in the Senate. The Choose Respect initiative is another example where the Administration secured bi-partisan support to get more VPSOs in rural Alaska, increase funding for victim services, create a new position in the Governor’s Office to coordinate efforts on DV and sexual assualt, change our criminal statutes, and get more funding to raise public awareness. The point is on many (but not all) issues, the Administration has attempted to work with all sides and it has done so with some success.

    In any event, I don’t think it is fair to conflate the Parnell Administration’s shortcomings – and there are many – with the failures and incompetence of legislators.

  21. Jon K

    Garand Fellow,

    The $3 to 4 billion per year in state revenue is not based on gas sales of $24 – the modeling was based on $15 (or so) LNG to Asia.

    I’m also not sure why you think this project is less real today. These companies have spent hundreds of millions to advance the project in the last several years. They have a good handle an all of the major project components – gas treatment, pipeline, and LNG. They have purchased hundreds of acres of land in Kenai for an LNG facility. They have applied for an export license. They have put their top LNG people on the project. And they are spending over $4 billion at Point Thomson, which is primarily a gas field. No gas commercialization project in Alaska history has ever made it this far.

    Why would Exxon spend their shareholders money, devote thousands of man hours, put their top LNG people on theproject, and risk their reputation pursuing a project that wasn’t real?

  22. admin

    @Arctic. Thanks for your kind words. I would love to have a few guest bloggers. Among those would be Lynn, of course. Jon K, Derp Garand Fellow, Mae and you, all of whom (and others) I always read with interest. And also, many people tell me that they come to my site as much for what I write as what you all write in the comments. I just need some time to get it together, and a way to contact everybody. I don’t even know everybody’s name. I’m doing it all myself now–the posting, the ads, the writing–and hosting guest bloggers feels overwhelming. But it would probably would save me time and energy in the long run, particularly if I ever decide to take a vacation. Anyway, thanks again for your support. It means a lot.

  23. Arctic Urbanophile

    I so agree about the high caliber of this site. I don’t even think I would call it a blog anymore, it has become my go to news source. The ADN is truly terrible and lacking in substance. They been completely dominated by “commentary” prices and have failed to produce anything even remotely objective/well researched. The only reason I still periodically check in on the ADN is to see Diane DeWitt deliver scathing verbal pap smear with better researched and in depth rebuttals on the comment’s section. Amanda, you should let Lynn and Diane guest blog every now and then :). The ADN hasn’t even been able to muster info graphics nor has it paid any considerable attention to any of the state legislative races, which will have a more directly and daily impact on Alaskans. Even the News Miner was able to put up a timely info-graphic breaking down the vote margins by precinct for Ballot 1. Thank god savvy entrepreneurs like Amanda are filling in the substantial gaps the ADN/Dispatch merger produced. I would event keep reading if you put up a pay wall (but please don’t).

  24. Anonymous


    I don’t think Walker and Mallott can do this. Alaskans won’t be fooled. But you would be a great ADF&G commissioner. The Prince of Wales habitat could support a much larger deer herd if only the wolf population was reasonably controlled. The current commissioner cannot see beyond a commercial fishing boat.

  25. Jay

    The best thing I can say about the new ticket is that thet Craifg Fleener isn’t on it. I fiind this character to lack moral charaacter and someone obviously willing to sat anything in hopes of becoming the commissioner of ADF and G. In your comment siggestion he says Begich wasn’t involved. This is a complete lie. I liked Bill Walker up to the point he selected Fleener. That was too low for me to stomach. What did he miss in the negotiations? Maybe hedidnt know Tom Begich was Mark’s brother. Maybe he didn’t know Mark Begich was Mark Begich. Maybe he’s stupid enough to think he, Fleener, himself played a role in the negotiations.

  26. Garand Fellow

    More than a great post. I cannot recall a single instance of a new voice of this caliber coming to Alaska journalism until amandacoyne.com. I often like Michael Cary’s columns, especially when he ties current events to early Railbelt history, and I think I may have agreed with Mike Doogan once but on their best days they struggle to have the insight you are able to regularly find.

    In this instance you are more generous and trusting toward this new ticket and Bill Walker than I am, but I am not trusting at all in this instance. Time is so short that Alaskans depend upon the media to ask the questions that will help us peer into this foggy valley. “Trust us” is almost always a red flag, and it is never a good answer.

    Parnell is a poor communicator. The 3rd Floor drinking fountain is to blame. Drink its water even once and you will find yourself deciding that the public is best kept uninformed, that the press is the enemy, that no one working on any other floor has ever had a good idea or done a lick of work, and that the guy down the hall – the Lt. Gov. – is a joke. When you run into the Lt. Gov. he/she almost invariably lets you know that the final idea is entirely valid, and so you decide you are correct in every instance – every hour of every day.

    But as Straitlaced said, Parnell is a good man and he is smart. I cannot say Walker is a good man but I must admit he is smarter than a Democrat. Byron is a good man but so many times in his career he has turned gold into lead, and it seems he has been easily outsmarted.

    The only Alaska Legislator who works for Southeast effectively every day was quoted in the Juneau paper yesterday making the same Holmes comparison. And thank you for reminding us of Jay Hammond and Wally Hickel. No one from that great generation of Alaskans would be on board with this Walker-Mallott coalition.

    Too often I think about the Murkowski gas line. Mistakes were made. The clock ran out. It was not real, and it could never have been real unless and until leverage was found to bring Exxon into it. (There was a groundbreaking however, so Walker has been scooped.) The Murkowski deal was in an era when gas was $7 and everyone thought it was going to $9 or even $13. Today gas is at $4 and Fauske and Palmer are telling us a gas line will bring in $4 billion GF, so someone in Japan or China has to agree up front to buy all of it at $24 or $25. While it wasn’t real, the Murkowski gas line was less unreal than what we see today. But it seems we only vote for people who bring us good news, and last I went to church it was the same there.

  27. Craig Fleener


    The concept of working together is intriguing to me too. The reality of constant gridlock or “party rules all” doesn’t fit in my version of Alaska. I certainly can’t speak for what the Senator Begich wants, because I don’t know. I observed and participated in the discussions between Byron and Bill, and can tell you that neither Mark Begich nor any of his staff participated the entire time. But, I can say that the followup rhetoric by Bill’s opposition is highly inaccurate… I agree that Bill & Byron will need to lay out more specifics on how they plan to resolve the catastrophic financial situation, Governor Parnell has overseen, in order to attract an even broader spectrum of Alaskans to this unity ticket.

    Bill has a very solid core set of beliefs. Bill, during the negotiations repeatedly stood strong on his core principles letting Byron and the democrats know that he will lead or stand firm on – balanced budgets, pro-life, pro 2nd amendment, open and accessible government, improved and accountable education system, more oil in the pipeline, a gas pipeline, cheaper energy for Alaskans, increased drilling across Alaska, building sorely needed infrastructure, and many other issues important to him. He promised to consult with the Lt Governor and the cabinet and anyone else who will help him to make the best decisions possible.

    I wish that the people who are deriding Bill for not laying out a plan for resolving our debt and deficit problems and how he can build a gasline while balancing the budget (all good questions) would have been asking Governor Parnell these questions as well. What’s truly a “Twilight Zone” moment is that almost everyone speaks of the value of reaching across the aisle in order to best represent Alaskans and resolving tough political issues, but when two partisans really stretch beyond what’s comfortable for them to make it work the establishment autobots begin their assault.

  28. Lynn Willis

    The issues facing this state (and God knows there are now enough of them) will now be debated and that should decide the election. The greatest benefit to date of the merger is that we will finally hear the arguments.
    I don’t agree that this situation is very similar to that of Palin. Palin rode into office on the Polar Pen scandal. That is not the situation now. She was able to link Murkowski with the CBC crowd and the antics of his appointed A.G. Renkes. She also picked select battles with the Republican establishment to increase her “street credibility”.
    Now the Walker/Mallot ticket has a very good chance of winning because Sean Parnell is a dedicated partisan politician who has narrowed his constituency to those who exploit his Administration for financial gain and those who Lincoln described as the “people who could be fooled all of the time”.
    The Alaska government is broke, both functionally and now financially. When you have a legislature that can ignore hundreds of bills (including HB 13 in the last legislature to debate the idea primary election reform) by granting defacto veto power to individual legislator usually for a quid pro quo; exempts itself from open meeting laws then demands lockstep support of bloated budgets for caucus membership – we lose.
    Walker/Mallot, if they win, will have a hell of a challenge. The Parnell loyalist Republicans in the legislature will have none of any bi-partisanship. The idea is hateful to them. They only respect political power and will damage anything or anyone who challenges them and cost is no object. I am sure they are already laying the landmines.

  29. sandy D

    Walker is an unprincipled snake-oil salesman who will say anything to get elected. How does one run a campaign emphasizing certain social views, then vow to keep social issues out of the Governor’s office? If he isn’t going to act on his ideology why make it a campaign issue at all? Why seek the endorsement of conservative groups? Does Alaska Family Action endorse him knowing that, while he agrees with their anti-gay marriage and pro-life positions, he intends to sit on his hands when those issues come before him as governor?

    Democrats have been conned by Alaska’s slickest film flam man since Soapy Smith. This just goes to show how far some people, regardless of party, can bend their “principles” when the prize is power.

  30. UAF AP

    Extremely strong perspective and well written. I like this type of column and feel that it serves as a guide for critical thinking on an issue. I can only assume that such articles are time consuming to deliver. Nonetheless, I hope that you will continue your thoughtful work on political affairs.

  31. GJK

    I have a high degree of disdain for both Byron Mallott and Bill Walker – – both before and after the creation of the new ticket. I liked Hollis French but disagreed with him on many economic policies. Parnell is my only other choice. I agree with him on economic policies, some social policies but can’t stand his numb skull rhetoric about Obama this and Obama that. Maybe that works in a primary where you are talking to the Republican base; however, it doesn’t talk to people like me – – registered Independents.

  32. Tom

    All the talk of grandness and goodness for the people is bullshit. This is nothing more than a backroom political deal that was orchestrated by Mark Begich. The Democrats were nothing but stupid, greedy and sold a bill of goods. Walker you can’t blame for taking advantage of the situation. It just goes to show how dumb Byron Mallott really is. Dumb as dirst my father would say.

  33. Mitch

    This is a wonderful article. Provacative. Smart. And sobering.
    Every Alaskan should read this and think what it all means to our future and our children’s future. Keep up the brilliant work.

  34. Straitlaced Radical

    Parnell is a good man, and smarter than many give him credit for. I certainly don’t agree with him all the time, and won’t disagree that communication out of his office isn’t what it could or should be. But I also think that more than anyone else out there, he generally means what he says, and he has more folks in the media and others that look to trap him in what he says, misrepresent his positions, and assume the worst of his motives, and aren’t ever going to be happy with what he does. Could it be that impacts the communication?

    He’s been pretty methodical about getting stuff done. And he doesn’t seem to get into the “gotcha” politics or going negative on opponents all that often, which I for one appreciate, even if being a nice guy puts him at a little bit of a disadvantage. The gasline progress has been pretty steady, oil production and employment are going up by most accounts, and a lot of my acquaintances that run or work in small businesses tell me they are seeing more work because of SB 21. That’s hard to argue with. He got the heads of the biggest oil companies in the world in Alaska to negotiate in person on the gasline for the first time ever, and they’ve pretty much been following the plan he laid out. That seemed like a bigger deal to me than he got credit for.

    His plan for PERS/TRS was one originally put out there by Democrats, and I bet if a Democrat Governor had been able to push through that plan, the media and unions would be laying coats down in the streets for him, but Parnell’s never going to have that as a conservative Republican. And deficits make people nervous, but there’s been significant budget reductions over the last couple of years that haven’t gotten much attention, except for those whose projects or departments have been affected. I haven’t researched it myself, but I have heard some say that he’s actually vetoed more spending than any other governor before him. I’d like to know if that’s really true,

    Walker and Mallott may sound good, but it’s all pie in the sky at this point. I’d like to hear someone get a straight answer from Walker about what he’s going to cut to balance the budget while also further increasing education funding, building a gasline without producer support, and putting in place all the other energy plans he says he has. Maybe then he would be easier to take seriously. Seems like pure fluff and ego right now. Not worth sacrificing what progress has been made IMO, even if Parnell isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

  35. Jon K

    Great post. I would add that while their bi-partisan rhetoric is very compelling, I don’t know what any of it means in practice. Walker has great lines, but there is no specificity as far as I can tell. The media should start asking tougher questions and demanding answers. There is a lot that Walker says that just doesn’t add up – e.g., his promise to balance the budget or his claim that he will get us a gasline when the producers don’t trust him. A project of this size and magnitude has no chance of succeeding unless all of the stakeholders work together – given all of the competition we cannot afford to antagonize those that have the expertise and balance sheets to get this project off the ground. Unless Alaskans can come together and work with the producers while protecting our interests – e.g. ensuring a fair return – this project isn’t going to happen. We are off to a very solid start now the Point Thomson is moving forward, huge progress has been made in engineering, permitting, and commercial issues, and with the legislature overwhelmingly approving HB 138 with a vote of 52 to 8. When Pete Kelly, Les Gara, Mike Hawker and Garran Tarr all vote in favor of something maybe we are on the right path?

  36. Jacob

    As an independent voter, I am very optimistic about the Walker/Mallott ticket. Even though I may not agree with each candidates stances on certain issues, they both are thoughtful and measured in their approach. I believe that if elected, the nature of this “unity ticket” will only help bring more diverse Alaskans into the decision-making process. Ultimately, I think it’s a positive example for this State that two politicians who are quite different can attempt to join together to solve the major issues facing all of us…conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat.

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