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, this time from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker who will be Begich’s guest at a fundraiser. See details at the Political Daybook.
Anyone else notice that Matt Larkin with Dittman Research was on the money with his pre-primary Senate predictions?
Local talk radio host Rick Rydell was out hunting this past weekend with his son Cale, independent lt. gov. candidate Craig Fleener, and Fairbanks political song writer and outdoor enthusiast Craig Compeau, who let’s hope composed a song about the trip, a song about hunting with politicians and about Cale’s smile, which was always one of the bright spots in Mead Teadwell’s campaign.
A big welcome to Reggie Drummond, who is the new administrator for the Legislative Ethics Committee. Drummond, a combat vet who did three tours in Iraq and one in Bosnia, was most recently an Inspector General for the Army in Alaska. Now, he’ll be on the frontlines of Alaska’s confusing and often contradictory ethics laws.
On Monday evening, about 100 local members of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, met at the Anchorage Museum. They were briefed by Elliott Brandt and David Meyerson from AIPAC’s national office. The subject? Israel, and how they were going to support candidates who support Israel. Spotted: Barney and Rachel Gottstein along with other Gottsteins David, Robert and Jim; Perry and Gloria Green; David and Debbie Grashan; Bob and Yael Kauffman; David and Bunny Levine; Rabbi Greenberg and wife Esty; Dr. Hari Regen; and many local ministers active with Alaska Christians United for Israel.
The final parade of the summer is always the State Fair Parade in Palmer. In advance, Rep. Shelley Hughes put a call out asking for support. And they came, about 80 of them, which is a pretty good crowd. Many of them likely had forgotten that Hughes is best known, so far, as the woman who called breast feeding sexy during the last legislative session. Or maybe they didn’t. Heaven help us if that was part of the draw.
The 21st annual Industry Appreciation Day was held in Kenai on Saturday, celebrating the industries that it’s said make Kenai a great place to work and live: oil, gas, fishing and tourism. Word is that about 1500 people turned out for the event on the Kenai Parkstrip. Cue politicians. Among those spotted: Kenai borough mayor Mike Navaree who was the emcee for the event, GOP senate candidate Dan Sullivan, Gov. Sean Parnell, Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, state Sen. Peter Micciche, Rep. Kurt Olson, City of Kenai mayor Pat Porter, Homer mayor Beth Wyeth, Borough Assemblymen Brent Johnson and Kelly Wolfe, Kenai City council member and volunteer extraordinaire Tim Navarre. The very first appreciation day, held over two decades ago, was held in Nikiski in front of the Agrium plant to thwart a “rumored” Greenpeace protest at the facility. Factoid: the guy cooking the hot dogs at that first event was the guy who was the emcee at this year’s event.
Speaking of Kelly Wolfe: Did anyone else find it rather interesting that Wolfe, a relative unknown one-term legislator from the Kenai, got 30 percent of the vote, or about 25,430 votes, in his lieutenant governor’s bid against Mayor Dan Sullivan? And how about the collective 20 percent of Republican primary voters who went for Brad Snowden, the hitchhiking candidate from Seward, and tea party candidate Russ Millette?
Strike one: Lesil McGuire’s bid for lt. governor. Strike two: Mead Treadwell’s bid for senate. Now, Harmony Shields, who has worked for both the McGuire and Treadwell campaign already this cycle, is angling for a job with independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker. Assuming she joins the team, in 72 days, we’ll know if she strikes out this election season or finally gets a hit. Frankly, it’s looking more and more promising for Walker every day.
Democratic gubernatorial team Byron Mallott and Hollis French have been endorsed by the Public Safety Employees Association Local 803 and the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 367, which combined represent about 1,800 workers. Retired Anchorage School District superintendent Carol Comeau also endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott’s campaign.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski staffer Robert Dillon was recently spotted reading Caro’s fourth book on Lyndon Johnson, “The Passage of Power.” Anticipation that the Republicans take control of the Senate after the election cycle?
Alaska’s Aerospace program seems to be blowing up. First with the retirement of one of the program’s major benefactors, Rep. Alan Austerman who was the powerful co-chair of the House Finance committee, and saw to it that the program’s funding needs were met. Then, the accident on Monday when a rocket blew up destroying much of the existing infrastructure of the Kodiak facility. These problems coupled with a multi-million dollar deficit, and limited promise of new business makes the future of this program iffy, especially when budgets are shrinking. The fat, $254,000 paycheck the director Craig Campbell gets also makes it a big target.
There’s some buzz about tension between Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and the well-respected Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai. Whatever happens with that, one thing is clear: Fenumiai has some big support out there. Another thing is also clear: Treadwell has to show up to work to do anything about the tension. Word is that the state seal has gone unguarded for quite some time now.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org