Democrats sometimes tell me that I write more about Republicans than I do about them. If that’s true, it’s because we have more Republican elected officials than we do Democrats. Besides, Dems are less willing to dish than are Republicans. That’s not to say that Democrats aren’t worthy of attention. And if Republicans continue with what can be viewed as a radical social agenda, and if more Democrats at least pay lip service to being pro-business, which they might, I suspect that the majority will slowly whittle away.
Anyway, last week was a big one for Democrats in Juneau. So this Loose Lips is devoted to them.
–Sam Kito III took the oath of office and filled the Juneau house seat vacated by former Rep. Beth Kerttula. He has made no secret of the fact that he will run in the 2014 election cycle to keep the seat. In related news, Jesse Kiehl, who was also on the short list of applicants sent to the governor to be considered for appointment, is now telling folks that he has decided not to challenge Kito in the election. Kiehl sits on the Juneau Assembly, is an aide to Sen. Dennis Egan and is said to be very popular in Juneau, the perfect candidate to run for Senate when Egan retires.
–Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott met with House and Senate Democrats last week to discuss his campaign and get their thoughts on his activities and the upcoming election. Word is the talks were cordial and productive. They centered around how well the campaign is doing at raising cash and the campaign’s need to slow down their campaign cash burn rate.
–In the 1990s Democrats trumpeted the great work they were doing to fight corruption by passing campaign reform. One of the laws that passed forbids a gubernatorial candidate from campaigning and raising money in Juneau during the legislative session. They likely didn’t figure that one of their own would be from the capital city. Byron Mallott lives in Juneau and his campaign is based in there. For now, pending an official ruling from the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the same rules apply to him as to Gov. Sean Parnell. While in Juneau, he can’t raise money. Consequently, Mallott lost a whole week of fundraising while he helped his wife, Toni, recover from knee surgery. He’s flying to Anchorage this week to continue campaigning efforts and to attend at least one fundraiser.
–About 100 people showed up at a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on Friday evening at the home of former Gov. Bill Sheffield. Begich was joined by the junior senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, who was elected in a special election to fill the seat of Robert Byrd and will become the senior senator for the Mountain State when Jay Rockefeller retires in 2015.
–The same night, developer Mark Pfeffer, who lives next door to Sheffield, had a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Word is that Manchin, the senator from West Virginia, crashed the party just as Murkowski was giving a speech, which stopped her in mid-sentence. What was he doing there, she wanted to know? “I’m next door at my friend Mark Begich’s fundraiser, and I just wanted to let your folks know they ought to come over to Mark’s event,” he said. The crowd loved it.
–Southeast Alaska Democrats held their annual Bartlett-Gruening Dinner Sunday evening at the Juneau Convention Center. State Sen. Dennis Egan served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. The evening speakers included Phil Smith who gave a brief presentation on the historical role that Bob Bartlett and Ernest Gruening played in the state. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott spoke. (It was noted that a table of labor leaders failed to clap when Byron enthusiastically talked about repealing SB 21). The evening’s keynote speaker was U.S. Senator Mark Begich. Although sometimes Begich keeps his distance from his party, he was all Dem on Sunday, as he proudly pointed out that each state has two statues in the U.S. Capitol and Alaska’s are both Democrats – – Bartlett and Gruening.
–And Begich gave his unequivocal support for one Democratic cause during his annual address to the Legislature on Monday. “Public dollars are for public schools, period,” he said, as momentum is building to put a vote to the public on whether or not the state’s constitution should be changed to allow for private schools to receive money. With Begich’s words come the full-throttled support of the NEA.
–Begich declined, however, to weigh in on another issue that’s near to the Dems. Should the public vote to repeal the oil tax bill passed last session? He said it was a state issue. Let’s be honest: this one is a loser for him either way, at least right now. On one hand there’s the Democratic base which is lockstep on repeal. On the other is business and the huge hunk of independents who are undecided on the issue. Ask him again in a few months. His answer should be a good barometer on how the independents are leaning.
–Rumor has it that Anchorage lawyer Walter Featherly is preparing to run against Rep. Mike Hawker, who has gotten some bad press lately for his role in the Anchorage Legislative Information Office fiasco. Besides having a name straight out of Dickens, Featherly is the managing partner for Patton Boggs’ Anchorage office, got his law degree from Harvard, and is Alaska’s Honorary Consul of the Republic of Croatia.
(From the did you know department: Alaska has honorary consuls to 18 countries. Former Attorney General Talis Colberg is the consul of Latvia.)
Contact Amanda Coyne at email@example.com