Among other things — hangovers, for one, and vows to never have another hangover — the end of the year produces clairvoyance. Everyone with a blog or a column is suddenly a great predictor. None of the other bloggers, however, have the gift of prognostication that I have, nor use a crystal ball, the Ouija board, or that special licking-finger-checking-wind thing. I should say here, that not all of these predictions make me happy. If I had my way, I’d change about half of them. But the future, my friends, isn’t always pretty, so says the great, low voiced oracle in me. Here it goes:
Governor’s race: Let me get this over with and take my lickings from the Dems. Gov. Sean Parnell will be reelected, but he’ll be so by a slimmer margin than what he now believes. Democrat Byron Mallott will come in second followed by independent candidate Bill Walker.
U.S. Senate Republican primary: Former DNR commissioner Dan Sullivan will win the Republican primary. Joe Miller, who’s running a stealth campaign far from the eyes of the media, will come in second, and Mead Treadwell will come in third if he lasts that long.
U.S. Senate general election: Sen. Begich is one of the best nuts and bolts politicians out there. He has the instincts of a raven, understands retail politics and learned a long time ago the value of scrounging for every last vote. Is that enough to overcome the fact that he’s a Democrat in a fundamentally red state? I say this is a tossup, leaning towards Begich. DNR Dan Sullivan, who I predict will win the primary, will have a huge war chest, has a dream resume, and is funny, smart and all those things you want in a candidate. However, he’s a political neophyte. He’s never had to knock on doors, listening to real people and their problems. He’s never had to shake hands in grocery stores. He’s not had to spend hour upon hour at community council meetings, or assembly halls, or state legislative caucus meetings. He hasn’t been forced to internalize people’s fears, hopes and dreams. Begich has. Besides, Begich has an experienced team. Sullivan doesn’t.
Control of the U.S. Senate: There are 35 senate races in 2014. For the Republicans to take control of the Senate, they need to gain 6 seats. Right now, the Republicans appear to have a good chance of picking up South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana. The next three seats that appear to provide the Republicans with the best chance for potential gains are Arkansas, Alaska, and Louisiana. My prediction is that the Senate splits 50 – 50, meaning that the Democrats will maintain control with Vice President Biden, as the presiding officer of the body, casting the decisive vote.
Control of the U.S. House of Representatives: Republicans will safely maintain control of the House. Democrats would have to pick up 17 seats which appears highly unlikely.
Repeal of AK Senate Bill 21: Alaskans will not repeal SB 21 for fear of damaging the state’s economy. Proponents of the repeal will not be able to raise enough money to go head to head with the funds that will be spent to beat it down. The biggest indicator: Vince Beltrami, head of the AFL-CIO told me recently that his organization is staying out of the fight. Last year, the AFL-CIO put more than $700,000 into keeping a bipartisan Senate, which would have blocked the tax bill. It lost. Apparently, he sees this one as a losing fight, also.
Marijuana initiative: Unless the pot people get so stoned that they mess this up, which is not unheard of, this will pass easy squeezey.
Minimum wage initiative: Assuming the measure qualifies for the ballot, this initiative will fail.
Bristol Bay initiative: The Pebble Mine is dead for now, but some people want to pound that last nail in the coffin. This initiative would effectively do that. Anti-Pebble zillionaire Bob Gillam will be funding the effort, and he’s proven to be one of the most powerful political forces in the state. But then again so is the mining industry. Powerful, that is, with the Pebble Partnership’s money, which left when Anglo America did. This is a tortured way of saying that the crystal ball on this one fuzzes over, the Ouija board’s planchette shuffles between “yes” and “no,” the wind is blowing from the east on my thumb and the west on my pinky.
School choice legislation: A majority of legislators in both houses will be supportive; however, since it is a constitutional amendment, it requires an affirmative vote of 2/3rds of the legislature. And with the NEA as strong as it is with the Alaska Dems, there’s no way enough of them will cross over on this issue.
House Bill 77: The Parnell administration supports this bill, which is intended to streamline the state’s permitting process and the House already passed it. The bill is currently sitting in the Senate Rules committee, where, barring a big re-write, I predict it will stay under Rules Chair Lesil McGuire’s boot. The bill goes too far, and senators, particularly Sen. Peter Micciche, are listening to their constituents on this.
Anchorage mayor’s race: Andrew Halcro is the darling of tailors and us journo types all across the state who have been awaiting his next political move. I predict that it’s coming this year with an announcement that he’s running for mayor. It makes sense. The race is non-partisan and is perfect for Halcro, who is a moderate Republican. Then there’s Paul Honeman, who will likely jump in and provide color. Finally, I predict that Dan Coffey, who has already announced, has more fundraisers than Hacro has ties.
The Turnagain House legislative race: While I have chosen not to predict every legislative race, this seat is different and has piqued a lot of interest. Rep. Lindsey Holmes won reelection in 2012 as a Democrat and shortly thereafter switched her party affiliation and joined the House Republican Majority Caucus raising the hackles of many of her friends and supporters. A recall effort ensued, she’s got two Democratic challengers, another on her right, and she’s been all but invisible. Still, I say she wins this one again, but by a razor-thin margin. The Republican money will be behind her, and most importantly, she grew up in the hood.
Disagree? Did I miss something? Leave a comment if you think so.
Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org