The session hasn’t begun and already the Senate majority is busy stepping in it. Senate President Kevin Meyer sent out a notice on Monday that the Senate majority hired McHugh Pierre “on a personal services contract, effective January 15 and terminating on May 15” as a communications specialist. He’ll be joining three others on the team and will be, in Meyer’s words, “promoting our priorities, our goals and our individual efforts and leadership on behalf of Alaskans.” Meyer wrote that Pierre “brings a vast amount of experience working in communications and journalism.” Indeed, he does have good experience, and at any other time, it would probably be a good hire. But for one: This is the very same Senate president who called on Gov. Bill Walker to enact a hiring freeze because we are facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Secondly, and most importantly, this is the very same McHugh Pierre who Gov. Sean Parnell asked to resign because of his potential involvement in the National Guard scandal. The very same scandal which will likely get hearings this upcoming session, and for which a special investigator will be assigned. The very same scandal that likely lost former Gov. Sean Parnell the race. One thing is clear: The Senate majority truly does need help, but perhaps communication isn’t the issue.
Friday was DNR’s Director of Oil and Gas Bill Barron’s last day. The new acting director of the division is Paul Decker, a geologist with the division. The new acting deputy director is Jim Shine.
Legislative staffer Brett Huber will be moving from the Senate Rules Committee to Senator Mike Dunleavy’s office for the 2015 legislative session.
Last week in my best and worst of Alaska politics 2014 article, I picked “Do you know Lynn Gattis?” as the best political radio spot for 2014. This week, Campaign and Elections Magazine announced their finalists for the 2014 Reed awards, which recognizes the best in the world of political campaigns, and Gattis’ ad has been selected as one of three finalist for the best political radio ad in the nation. The ads’ producer, Hackney & Hackney, should be pleased. Of the three finalists in this category, two were produced by them. Their other radio ad finalist was “Ultimate political survivor” created for Alaska’s Energy/America’s Values Super PAC which poked fun at Begich’s snow machine ad. All in all, Art Hackney who I picked as Alaska’s best political consultant of 2014, received the second most finalist nominations of any consultant or political consulting firm, in the country with 13 nominations.
More on the Reed Awards: The D.C.-based media production company, FP1 Strategies, who made Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan’s media, has also been selected as finalists for Reed awards for the most effective comparative TV ad – “Lame Tricks,” and Best political TV ad 2014 – “Values.” (I picked this one as one of the best in the campaign).
Former Rep. Lindsey Holmes got her first caribou on a hunt in Adak:
Did you ever wonder what Rep. Don Young’s done the past two years when he wasn’t making faces and sticking his tongue out on the floor of the House or when he wasn’t making “bull-sex” remarks to a Wasilla High School assembly? Wonder no more. During the 113th Congress, according to Congressman Young’s office, he flew 228,550 miles to reach Alaskans, helped 4,992 Alaskans thru case work, answered 61,773 letters and gave over 300 tours of the Capitol.
So, you’re in your hotel room, like I was the other day, thousands of miles away from legislators, thank God, away from the fundraisers, the community meetings, the political lunches, and you casually turn on the TV in your hotel room, and you watch one of the many fancy reality show about your home state, which makes you feel very warmly about your home state. And then the camera pans onto a boat in Seward—a halibut charter—and the warmth spreads. The shot gets closer, and all of a sudden, you’re staring at Rep.-elect Cathy Tilton and Sen. Lesil McGuire on the boat, along with a group of about 10, fishing poles in hand. And no matter how much you want to turn away—because you traveled thousands of miles to get away from all of them– you just can’t, because they are both really imminently watchable, and because Tilton has hooked a big one, and she’s excited and she’s charming when she’s excited and the fish is 72 pounds. And McGuire is rooting her on, and the warmth spreads. Kind of like film-tax credits.
They danced in Valdez and they danced in Anchorage on Saturday evening. Governor Walker attended his first inaugural ball Saturday evening in his hometown of Valdez. The governor’s hometown hood turned out to celebrate, about 275 in all, in the Valdez Convention and Civic Center. The event was sold-out before it was even officially announced. Dinner was served, people drank and everyone danced. Meanwhile at the IBEW hall in Anchorage, the Alaska Democratic Party threw their ‘2015 Kick-off Party.” Word is, that while the crowd only numbered about 30, they were “the right 30 people”. Minority Leader Chris Tuck, Tom Begich, Assemblyman Pete Petersen played jazzy, grandpa music while Sen. Berta Gardner sang along from the audience. ADP Executive Director Kay Brown worked the room, and spoke with known moneyed attendees before gathering the cash box and leaving midway through the party. Rep. Geran Tarr showed up in the last 15 minutes. Also spotted: Michelle Scannell, Anchorage School Board Member Pat Higgins, Anchorage School Board candidate Starr Marsett, Clare Ross and husband Chad. Not spotted: AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami or IBEW’s Melinda Taylor.
Is it just a coincidence that the Mat-Su Republican Women’s Club is having their Annual Lincoln Day Dinner and Auction on Feb. 6, the same night of the Governor’s Inaugural Mat-Su Ball?
Ridgecrest Drive, in Alexandria, Virginia, on the outskirts of D.C. is quiet street in a quiet, sedate neighborhood. Then the Alaskans showed up, and that party started. On Monday evening at Shannon and Mike Dubke’s house, scores of Alaskans and political power brokers filled their wine classes, nibbled on crab thingies and cheese whatnots. They were Dan Sullivan’s campaign staff, vendors and early supporters that were celebrating Sullivan’s victory one last time on the eve of the swearing-in of the 114th Congress. For the most part, the Alaskans huddled together—looking aggressively casual–while the D.C. powerbrokers huddled in their corners, just looking aggressive, and slick. Some of the faces spotted included: Dan’s campaign manager Ben Sparks; John Downs of FP1 Strategies which produced Dan’s media; Tara Sweeney; Steven Law with American Crossroads; Senator Click and Darlene Bishop; Jon Ketchum; Tina Pidgeon; Curtis and Josie Thayer; Rep. Bob Herron; Bill and Liz Armstrong; Jared Green; Rep. Lynn Gattis and her husband Rick; Robyn Engibous; Liz Banicki; Ashley Reed; Mike Anderson; (Sen.-elect) Rep. Bill Stoltze; Angelina Burney; DeLynn Henry; Sen. Lesil McGuire; John Sims; and Taranova Tasker. In all, about 100 were there.
Gov. Bill Walker arrived in Washington, D.C. on Monday evening joining over 200 other Alaskans that crossed the country to attend the swearing-in of the 114th Congress. Most of the attendees came at the invitation of Dan Sullivan. In addition to the Alaskans, word has it that more than 80 members of Sullivan’s family will be attending the ceremony too. A reception is being hosted in his honor in the Dirksen Senate Office building. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is holding an open house at her home in the mid-afternoon, and ASRC is having a reception for Sullivan and Murkowski in the early evening.
Contact Amanda Coyne at email@example.com