Early evening Friday announcements are normally reserved for bad news and document dumps. So, that Gov. Sean Parnell would announce his future intentions on a Friday after 5 p.m. struck many, including this writer, as flatfooted. Then again, Parnell’s not known for his ability to generate excitement. In fact Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell once called him a “quiet governor” in front of a group of businessmen and officials from all across the globe visiting Alaska to discuss opportunities in the Arctic. The president of Iceland was there. Parnell was somewhere else being quiet.
But sometimes—well at least once anyway—he gets it right. In the weeks leading up to Parnell’s announcement, nearly all of Alaska’s political establishment had assumed that he would forgo a run for U.S. Senate against Sen. Mark Begich and instead stay the course. But in the hours leading up to Parnell’s 5:50 p.m. announcement in Fairbanks, the political trap lines were buzzing. Had everyone been wrong? In the past weeks, had Parnell been able to muster the political courage to take Begich on?
Why else would he choose to make an announcement at an event—the Alaska Republican Women’s Convention– where both Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkowski were in attendance?
Even those who should have known were second guessing their assumptions. The backbone of Alaska’s Republican Party was in Fairbanks waiting to hear his plans. Party stalwarts like don’t-mess-with-Paulette Simpson from Juneau was there. Rhonda Boyles from Fairbanks and newly elected Rep. Lynn Gattis from Wasilla, were there. (Everyone knows that you shouldn’t mess with them either.) Sen. President Charlie Huggins and House Speaker Mike Chenault showed. The room was packed. Everyone waited and whispered.
So, an announcement that might have been as exciting as waiting for water to boil-turned into an event. It might just be the most exciting one of the governor’s race.
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