Tag Archives: alaska senate race

Club for Growth endorses Dan Sullivan for Senate

The fiscally conservative powerhouse Club for Growth announced on Wednesday that it’s endorsing former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan for Senate. Sullivan is running in the Republican Senate primary against Joe Miller and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. The winner will run against Sen. Mark Begich in the general election.

“Dan Sullivan is a fiscal conservative with a stellar track record in Alaska and we strongly endorse him for the United States Senate,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement.

The group opposes federal regulations and supports “lowering or eliminating” corporate taxes and the capital gains tax.

The Club for Growth endorsement not only brings in big money, but it also establishes Sullivan as the fiscal conservative in the race, a designation that all three candidates have been fighting for.

“I am honored to receive the Club for Growth’s endorsement of my campaign for United States Senate. The Club for Growth has been instrumental in advocating for pro-growth policies, limiting the growth of government and fighting back against the Obama administration’s overreach into the economy and lives of Americans,” Sullivan said in an email following the announcement.

In 2012, the Club for Growth spent $16 million on congressional candidates. It won half of the races into which it put money, making it the group with the best record of any group supporting candidates.

That said, it hasn’t had much luck in Alaska. The organization endorsed Miller against Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2010, and it endorsed Gov. Sean Parnell who ran against Rep. Don Young in 2008. The group went after Young hard, saying, among other things, that he represents the “worst of a Republican Party that became too comfortable in power.”

Nevertheless, it’s a big endorsement for Sullivan. Groups often wait for a clear winner to support candidates in primary races. The early endorsement by the Club for Growth will likely signal to other groups that they are also free to support Sullivan.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Fat Taco Tuesday at Mead Treadwell’s office

About 30 or so people made their way to GOP Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s campaign office in Anchorage to celebrate fat Tuesday. The food, much like the people who showed, was interesting. Tacos, baklava, cornbread, and Girl Scout Thin Mints. Like the crowd, none of it should have mixed, but it did.

Ramona Specking who manages a hotel and speaks French, German and conversational Spanish was there. Irene Green who runs an international bed and breakfast who speaks those three plus Dutch and Italian had with her an Italian national who biked part of the Iditarod trail. Lars Gleitsmann, a geologist and an airplane pilot was there and spoke authoritatively about Pebble Mine, Tito’s Yugoslavia and Agenda 21. Retired Marine Col. Catkin Burton talked to a woman who is making organic baby food. A smattering of fiercely loyal men who look like they just graduated from Andover stood with crossed arms.

Treadwell isn’t the most inspiring speaker. And to call him quick tempered might be an understatement. So it’s hard to remember, if you ever knew at all, that he surrounds himself with interesting people, people of colors and accents and languages and ideas. Treadwell is billing himself as a socially conservative Republican, but his main followers, his base, are with him less it seems because of his ideology than because they know him, many of them since he came to the state in his 20s.

Treadwell spoke briefly shortly after I arrived. As is his wont, he dug at his main GOP challenger former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan, who that night was at a fundraiser in D.C. ‘I’d rather be here in Alaska,” he said.  He promised the crowd that he would continue to run an “aggressive” campaign that will take him across the state to work hard for them and to raise money, something at which he’s not been great.

Let’s be honest: compared to Sullivan, he’s been pretty lousy at it. Then again, most money for a federal race for any candidate comes from Outside, and the thing that Treadwell has going for him doesn’t translate in a stump speech at a fundraiser in Oklahoma, or Nebraska, where men in suits want to bet on someone who smells and talks like a winner. For them, Sullivan — the Marine with a Harvard law degree, the former assistant secretary of state who looks like he just walked out of central casting — is their guy.

To understand what Treadwell brings to the race, you’d have to be at his side at a coffee house in Wasilla, say or talking about fishing in Seward, or about the Arctic in Barrow, or eating tacos and baklava at his campaign headquarters in Midtown Anchorage.

Treadwell said that he has no intentions of dropping out before the primary, and that he’s “in it to win it.” If he is able to hang in there, it won’t be because of the way that he’s tried to out Tea Party Joe Miller, or his constant swipes at Dan Sullivan. In fact, it’ll likely be in spite of those things.

It’ll be because he grew up in this state. “I know him,” Irene Green said. “He’s my friend.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Groups target Senate candidate Dan Sullivan

Groups supporting Sen. Mark Begich were busy on Tuesday attacking the GOP candidate Dan Sullivan, who is the GOP fundraising front-runner, and appears to be the candidate to target. On Tuesday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out a video of Sullivan walking down the street in D.C., talking to Republican strategist Mike Dubke. According to Sullivan’s campaign, he was simply in route to a breakfast meeting of the Ripon Society, a Republican group that promotes Republican principles.

Later on Tuesday, the Alaska based super-PAC Put Alaska First, which supports Begich, released its first attack ad against Sullivan. Jim Lottsfeldt, who is running the super-PAC, said it’s a $49,000 ad buy and is running throughout the state.

The ad targets Sullivan’s residency in Alaska, and makes much of his time away from the state. Sullivan’s campaign fired back, saying that the ad is proof that Democrats and Begich don’t value national service. “During the time in question, Dan left Alaska to serve our country in the War on Terror in the White House, in the U.S. Marine Corps, and as a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State under Condoleezza Rice,”  Mike Anderson, Sullivan’s campaign spokesperson said in a statement.

Read the full statement here:

This new ad paid for by Michael Bloomberg and Begich-Obama’s special interest friends proves two things:  One, the Democrats fear Dan Sullivan most of all, and Two, Mark Begich and his cronies do not value national service.  During the time in question, Dan left Alaska to serve our country in the War on Terror in the White House, in the U.S. Marine Corps, and as a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State under Condoleezza Rice.  Dan then returned to Alaska to faithfully serve Alaska as our Attorney General and as the Commissioner of Natural Resources.  Now is the time to put a warrior for Alaska back in the Senate.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Crossroads bashes Begich over missing unemployment vote. AFL-CIO comes to his defense.

Karl Rove’s group, Crossroads GPS, is airing a radio ad in Alaska, bringing up a month’s-old story about U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s trip to Hawaii when the Senate was voting on an unemployment extension. Begich missed the procedural vote on Jan. 7 to deliver a speech to the American Aviation group, to meet Hawaii’s governor and to attend fund raisers. The missed vote was well covered when it happened. Begich said at the time that the Hawaii trip was planned well in advance of the procedural vote. (Listen to the ad here: Hawaii radio ad.)

In the ad, a narrator berates Begich for missing work to go to Hawaii. To the backdrop of Hawaiian music, the voice of a young man exclaims, “Surf’s up dude. Cowabunga!” And in a bit of irony, Crossroads, a group that supports Republicans, tells listeners to call Begich’s office to tell him we need a “fully funded unemployment extension,” an extension that Senate Republicans have been repeatedly blocking. Begich has voted repeatedly to extend unemployment benefits.

Alaska AFL-CIO issued a press release, defending Begich over the ad. “The hypocrisy of this ad is thick. Karl Rove attacking Mark Begich for not supporting working families is akin to me giving a lecture on hair styling and beauty products,” AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami said.

Beltrami, it should be noted, is bald.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Senate candidate Sullivan has more contributors than Dems say, but still not enough.

On Friday the Alaska Democratic Party put out a press release about the number of Alaskans who contributed to U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s campaign. The Dems, quoting the Alaska Dispatch, said that Sullivan’s fourth-quarter FEC report shows that he only had 130 Alaska contributors. This is evidence, they say, of Sullivan’s tepid support in this state. Sullivan’s from Ohio, and has been back and forth from Alaska to D.C. since 1997, and his challengers have been trying to paint him as a carpetbagger.

Raising nearly $1.3 million, Sullivan leads the money race among the GOP primary-race contenders, and although he doesn’t have as much money on hand, he outraised incumbent Sen. Mark Begich, who raised about $850,000 during the last quarter. Although the percentages of total funds raised inside and outside the state were about the same for both, the release pointed out that Begich had more than 1,100 Alaska contributions during the same period.

The truth, however, is more complicated. According to his campaign, Sullivan actually had 320 Alaska donors, but because unlike Begich, the campaign didn’t list donors who gave less than $250 $200, those people don’t show on the FEC report.

Too, Sullivan doesn’t have nearly the same name recognition as does Begich and entered the race two weeks into the filing period.

Still 320 Alaskan donations is a small number, and the campaign needs to be more effective in reaching out to Alaskans if it wants to be competitive against Begich. From what I can tell so far, Sullivan’s campaign is still focusing its attention on attracting large, out-of-state donors. It’s only released one web-based ad and doesn’t appear to be as acitve soliciting Alaska donors as his competitors.

Begich, in the meantime, is aggressively sending out numerous fundraising appeals. Additionally, his campaign  has aired several radio ads, and third-party groups, including the National Association of Realtors, the American Chemistry Council, and Bristol Bay Native Corp., are airing ads thanking Begich for his support.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Senate candidate Sullivan backs up 97 percent charge against Begich

Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan has been using the line on the trail and in stump speeches that U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has voted with Obama 97 percent of the time in 2013.

“After almost four months on the campaign trail, I have not met one Alaskan who agrees with President Obama’s agenda 97 percent of the time,” Sullivan has been saying repeatedly, in hopes, apparently, that it becomes a meme and will stick much like Romney’s 47 percent line stuck.

Sullivan repeated the refrain in a press release on Monday. And this time, Sullivan had backup for that 97 percent. His release points to a study conducted by CQ Roll Call, which  has Begich voting 97 percent of the time with the president on 108 bills that CQ Roll Call identified had the president’s support. Sixty five of the 108 were nominations.

According to the study, Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted with the president 72 percent of the time, and Rep. Don Young voted with the president 22 percent of the time.

Begich voted against the president three times. Those no votes, however, were enough to land him in 10th place in CQ Roll Call’s list of Senators least supportive of the president.

Ryan Kelly, a Roll Call CQ researcher, put together the following list of votes that Begich cast against the president, as well as the six ones that he missed. The missed votes did not count against Begich’s percentile rank.

Votes on which Begich disagreed with Obama:

Senate Vote 97 – S 649: Gun Policy Revisions – Background Checks

April 17, 2013 – Manchin, D-W.Va., amendment no. 715 that would expand an existing background check system to include firearms purchased at gun shows and over the Internet. It would allow gun show sales to proceed if a background check does not prompt a response within 48 hours and reduce that to a 24-hour wait four years after enactment. It would exempt family transfers and some private sales. The amendment would restrict law enforcement grant funds for states that do not provide all available records to the national background check database. It would ban the creation of a national firearms registry, allow active-duty military members buy guns in their home state and create a commission to study the causes of mass violence in the United States. Rejected 54-46: R 4-41; D 48-5; I 2-0.

Senate Vote 101 – S 649: Gun Policy Revisions – Assault Weapons Ban

April 17, 2013 – Feinstein, D-Calif., amendment no. 711 that would prohibit the future production, import, sale, transfer or possession of certain firearms considered to be assault weapons and ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds, with exemptions for law enforcement officials. It would exempt certain firearms used for hunting and sporting purposes from the ban. It also would allow law enforcement grant funds be used to buy back semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition clips. Rejected 40-60: R 1-44; D 38-15; I 1-1.

Senate Vote 103 – S 649: Gun Policy Revisions – High-Capacity Clip Ban

April 17, 2013 – Blumenthal, D-Conn., amendment no. 714 that would prohibit the future production, import, sale, transfer or possession of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds, with exemptions for law enforcement officials. It would also allow law enforcement grant funds be used to buy back semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition clips. Rejected 46-54: R 1-44; D 43-10; I 2-0.

Votes that Begich missed:

Senate Vote 25 – : Lew Nomination – Confirmation

February 27, 2013 – Confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nomination of Jacob J. Lew of New York to be secretary of Treasury.

Confirmed 71-26: R 20-25; D 50-0; I 1-1.

Senate Vote 28 – : Failla Nomination – Confirmation

March 04, 2013 – Confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nomination of Katherine Polk Failla of New York to be a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Confirmed 91-0: R 41-0; D 48-0; I 2-0.

Senate Vote 113 – S 743: Internet Sales Tax – Passage

May 06, 2013 – Passage of the bill that would allow states to require out-of-state retailers with annual remote sales that exceed $1 million to collect sales taxes on items delivered to the state. Passed 69-27: R 21-22; D 46-5; I 2-0.

Senate Vote 145 – S 954: Farm Programs – Passage

June 10, 2013 – Passage of the bill that would reauthorize federal farm, food, nutrition and conservation programs through fiscal 2018. Passed 66-27: R 18-25; D 46-2; I 2-0.

Senate Vote 170 – : Dorsey Nomination – Confirmation

July 09, 2013 – Confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nomination of Jennifer A. Dorsey of Nevada to be a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. Confirmed 54-41: R 1-41; D 51-0; I 2-0.

Senate Vote 235 – : Wilkins Nomination – Cloture

November 18, 2013 – Motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Robert L. Wilkins of the District of Columbia to be a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Motion rejected 53-38: R 2-37; D 49-1; I 2-0.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


National attention given to Sullivan’s success and Treadwell’s fundraising failures

This week isn’t starting off too well for GOP Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. Two stories, one in Politico and the other in The Hill, were published on Sunday, both of which highlight how much money his challenger in the GOP Senate primary, Dan Sullivan, has raised and how little Treadwell raised in the fourth quarter: Sullivan’s $1.25 million to Treadwell’s $228,000. Treadwell was among what Politico called the “10 fundraising losers.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich raised a respectable $850,000.

Treadwell has about $95,000 cash on hand. His campaign debts total more than $141,000, including money that Treadwell lent his campaign. So it appears that he’s operating in the red. Sullivan’s campaign says that it has about $1.1 million cash on hand. Begich has $2.8 million.

According to Politico, internal polls show that Treadwell has a better chance of beating Begich than does Sullivan. However, such low numbers “scare national Republican strategists,” says Politico. It should be noted that so do articles like those in Politico and The Hill.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Senate candidate Dan Sullivan releases first ad of campaign season

U.S. senate candidate Dan Sullivan released his first ad on Thursday which will only appear online. Sullivan is running against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller in the Republican primary. The ad serves as an introduction to Sullivan’s time as Alaska attorney general, former commissioner of DNR, and his service in the Marines. It doesn’t mention the other candidates. A series of radio ads produced by an Anchorage-based super-PAC earlier this month did hit Sen. Mark Begich, calling him “Malarkey Mark,” among other things.


Senate candidates Treadwell and Sullivan meet on stage for first time in campaign

Following a forum on Monday featuring Senate candidates Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan, the Alaska Democrats put out a press release entitled, “GOP Campaign Heats Up As Candidates Attack Each Other In Contentious Primary.”

In fact, at the forum, the two mainstream Republican candidates agreed on most every issue that was raised. Both candidates promised to work to lessen federal involvement in Alaska’s business. Both are pro-life. Both believe in curtailing NSA’s surveillance powers. Both believe that the EPA went well beyond its authority when it released its Pebble Mine watershed assessment prior to mining companies applying for permits. Pebble Mine is on its last leg, and the EPA’s involvement has contributed to its imminent demise.

There appeared to be tension in the room only one time, when Treadwell referred to a project that he had worked on “before you were here” he said to Sullivan, in an attempt to jab him about his relatively short tenure in the state.

However, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich took the heavy punches.

Treadwell went so far as to accuse Begich of inviting the EPA to conduct the Pebble report. “He said he didn’t, but I don’t believe him,” Treadwell said. His spokesperson couldn’t back the statement up except to point out that Begich and the head of the EPA have traveled together.

The forum was sponsored by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Republican candidate Joe Miller couldn’t make it. It was the first time both Treadwell and Sullivan have shared a stage as candidates, and it served more as an introduction, particularly to Sullivan, who hasn’t yet run for office, than as a heated exchange of ideas.

Sullivan appears to be running on his military record and as a candidate who gets things done. As many readers of this blog know, he is a former Alaska attorney general and DNR commissioner. He’s also had a long career as an active duty and reservist Marine. About five years after moving to Alaska to practice law, he went back to D.C. in 2002 to work for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a fact that he mentions often and most likely won’t serve him well as he continues to get labeled as a D.C. insider.

He’d probably do better to put that in the background and highlight his Alaska successes.

As Alaska’s attorney general, he was one of the first AG’s in the country to sue over ObamaCare. And as DNR commissioner, he crisscrossed the world, touting Alaska’s natural resources. He also successfully negotiated with ExxonMobil to begin work on Pt. Thomson, the huge North Slope oil and gas field, something that has eluded others for decades.

Treadwell, Alaska’s lieutenant governor since 2010, highlighted his long ties to Alaska. He moved to the state in 1978 to work on Wally Hickel’s losing gubernatorial run. He returned in 1982 armed with a master’s from Harvard to work for Hickel’s company, Yukon Pacific which tried, but failed, to build a natural gas pipeline that would run from the North Slope to tidewater in Valdez. Hickel ran again for governor and won in 1990 and Treadwell served as his deputy commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Treadwell was appointed to Bush’s United States Arctic Research Commission, and became president of the commission. Among other things during his tenure, he supported the Law of the Sea Treaty, a fact that won’t likely serve him well with Tea Party activists, to whom such international treaties are anathema.

Throughout, Treadwell invested in a series of successful tech companies.

Vince Beltrami, head of Alaska’s AFL-CIO, said he didn’t see much difference in the two candidates as far as issues went. “They’re like peas in a pod,” he said, which was a sentiment shared by others in the room.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Senate candidate Treadwell releases fourth-quarter fundraising numbers

On Friday, U.S. Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell announced that he had raised more than $228,000 in the fourth fundraising quarter, with about 1,000 donations. More than 80 percent of those funds came from Alaskans, he said.

“We are very proud to have received such backing from voters who have a real stake in our campaign to replace Mark Begich,” he said. “Every quarter our campaign to bring decision-making home grows, as each quarter the number of donors nearly doubles the previous one. We are very excited about our constant progress.” (The full release is below)

Federal candidates must file quarterly reports with the FEC. The official fourth-quarter reports aren’t due until the end of the month.

Among Treadwell’s two main challengers in the Republican Senate primary, only former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan has released the total fourth-quarter fundraising amount. He said that he has raised more than $1.25 million. Much of that money is said to have come from high-powered fundraisers in the Lower 48.

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich hasn’t released his numbers yet. In the last quarter he raised $813,000, and had $2.4 million on hand.

Fundraising has not been Treadwell’s strong point. In the third quarter, he raised $196,000 and only had $155,000 cash on hand.

Expectations were higher for this quarter, as he hired high-powered D.C. fundraiser Lisa Spies.

Here’s Treadwell’s release in full:

Today, the Mead Treadwell U.S. Senate Campaign released their 4th quarter fundraising numbers. The campaign raised over $228,000 with over 80% of donors from Alaska.

The Treadwell campaign released the following statement regarding the 4th quarter finance numbers:

“Our campaign is thrilled with the amount of support we have received, especially from Alaskans. Of the nearly 1,000 donations received this quarter, more than 80 percent came from Alaskan voters. We are very proud to have received such backing from voters who have a real stake in our campaign to replace Mark Begich. Every quarter our campaign to bring decision-making home grows, as each quarter the number of donors nearly doubles the previous one. We are very excited about our constant progress. This is a campaign for Alaska, supported by Alaskans.

“Even with outside money pouring in, Alaska’s votes are not for sale. Mead has led in this race from the beginning and continues to do so. Mead has spent 40 years serving the state, and no one can buy that kind of experience or the loyal support it creates. Alaskans need a senator who understands our state and values. In November we will make a change in the Senate and Mead is proud to have such overwhelming support from those who will make that change.” – Fred Brown, Treadwell for Senate Campaign Spokesman.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Treadwell calls himself ‘pro-life leader’ on 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Calling himself a “pro-life leader,” Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell put out a statement and a campaign video in support of anti-abortion protesters gathered in D.C. and Juneau on Wednesday, the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Treadwell is in a three-way race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Since entering the race, he has veered to the right, most notably on social issues such as abortion.

“Every person has a purpose and path in the world and I firmly believe life begins at conception,” he wrote. “I have worked with pro-life groups in Alaska for decades. I’ve fought to help pass the parental notification initiative and to clarify ‘medical necessity.’ As Senator, I will fight to make sure tax dollars are spent to save lives, not take them away.”

Recently, the state passed regulations that dictate that the State of Alaska’s Medicaid program will no longer pay for abortions unless a doctor deems such abortions “medically necessary.”

Thousands of people protested in the cold in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. In Juneau, about 30 people protested in the pouring rain in front of the state Capitol Building.

President Obama also put out a release today. “We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom,” he wrote.

Obama also said that his administration aims to “reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Weekly roundup: Aloha moderate malarkey flu

aloha It’s still very early in the election season. The sun is still low and coy, objects hidden under the snow haven’t even begun to think of stirring, and most Alaskans haven’t even begun to think about who they’re going to vote for in the upcoming elections.

It feels a lot like Joe Miller time.

I know that many of you common-sense conservatives have written Miller off. But common-sense conservatives have never been accused of being commonly sensitive enough to feel the fury of that small group of primary voters, the ones that Sarah Palin awoke from their long slumber and the ones that are now gathering during these long winter nights to plan for a Miller win, much like they did in the early days of 2010.

Word is that the meetings are happening with increasing frequency, particularly in the Mat-Su Valley, where there’s something in the water which makes everyone feel dispossessed. The meetings are revivalesque, I’m told. In other words: those people vote.

In the meantime, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell , who also tries really hard to act like he’s dispossessed, is plugging along, sending out press releases accusing Begich of being soft on energy and not “enthusiastically” supporting Murkowski’s bid to end exports on oil. I say be careful of what you wish for. Any more enthusiasm from Begich and he’ll be knocking at your door, using that soon-to-be-grating,  folksy voice to try and convince you that he’s as “independent as Alaska.”

And he’ll keep going until you agree.

Speaking of Begich. How’s this for his new moniker, a la Art Hackney: “Malarkey Mark.” And isn’t it interesting that the national Republicans are bashing him giving a speech in Hawaii rather than being in D.C., voting to extend unemployment benefits? Maybe they’ve been employed for so long that those same Republicans forgot they don’t like the bill?

Besides, in addition to attending fundraisers and giving a speech, Begich likely spent the rest of his waking hours in Hawaii convincing Alaskans that he’s as independent as they are. Indeed, you can’t throw a stone this time of year in Hawaii without hitting an Alaskan. Former Mayor Tom Fink is reportedly there, giving lectures to anyone who will listen on laissez faire economics and school choice. Rep. Les Gara is riding a girl’s 10 speed bike around Oahu. It was the affordable one available, he said.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

Speaking of throwing stones, neither of the two Republican candidates running for lieutenant governor showed at the first state-wide candidate forum in Anchorage on Tuesday night. Mayor Dan Sullivan had other plans, so he declined immediately. Sen. Lesil McGuire called in sick right before it started. Malarkey? Who can blame her? I’d be sick too if I were a moderate Republican in that crowd, in this state, where to win statewide office, you have to get at least a handful of those Valley folks to cast their vote for you. Maybe the remedy is in the Valley water.

Anyway, because no Republican showed, the show was left to Democrats Sen. Hollis French and Palmer teacher Bob Williams, and independent Craig Fleener. As expected, Gov. Sean Parnell took a beating.

Sen. Hollis French, as usual, was like, “au contraire Parnell!” He was like, “Oil companies j’en peux plus!”

I don’t know Craig Fleener well enough to poke fun at him. He seems really nice, smart. Besides, he’s a former Marine.

But the line of the night belonged to Bob Williams.

Bob Williams? I hadn’t heard of him either, and yet he has blue eyes and even comes with props! On Tuesday night, there was a red cup, yellow cup and green cup, and some sort of piece of cloth all of which represented something important enough to warrant them. I can’t remember what it was, however. (My dog ate my notes, and then I suddenly came down with the moderate malarkey Republican flu.)

What I do remember, perhaps the only thing I remember, is when Blue Eyes called Parnell a wimp.

That got the requisite, snide, liberal chuckle. But Williams wasn’t done. Because it’s so uncool in school to call anybody a name, he went on to explain what he meant was that Parnell is “Wildly Inaccurate, Misleading, and Partisan.” It doesn’t quite work as an acrostic, but nobody, least of all Parnell, is going to challenge him.

What else is going on out there? Mayor Dan hired his buddy, high school friend and chief-of-staff Dan Kendall to run ML&P. His qualifications for running one of the state’s largest electrical utilities? For 30 years he was a corrosion technician for ENSTAR. For 30 years, he did nothing but drive around in his truck, getting a big union paycheck to check for cronyism. Oops! I mean corrosion.

Whispers of Eagle River Rep. Lora Reinbold, and Valley Rep. Wes Keller organizing what’s being called a “conservative caucus” in the House to push out the moderates. Because, you know, Alaska’s Republican dominated House is so full of moderates. Must be something in the water.

And there’s lots of talk about the good bureaucrats at Revenue and DNR, who could probably use a chug or two of Valley water, trying to untangle the state from the very last vestige of the Palin regime. Next session, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, or AGIA, will be likely be a goner, taking its hundreds of millions with it, and one of the countless big dreams of a big natural gasline. Aloha AGIA.

As William’s might put it: “Alaska Gets It in the….Abdomen again.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Joe Miller’s stealth Senate campaign

19660467_mlThe fourth quarter officially ended on Dec. 31 and now, federal candidates  — Dem. U.S. Senate Mark Begich,former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell — are busy preparing their reports due to the FEC by Jan. 31. It’s hard work. Each receipt has to be accounted for, and politically suspect contributors need to be checked, and in some cases scrubbed and their checks sent back. Some, particularly the ones who have raised lots of money and have lots of checks they are accounting for, are spending more time than others.

Senate candidate Joe Miller, for one, likely isn’t spending tons of time with all of that. From looking at his past reports, he’s not putting much time and energy into fundraising, nor is he engaging in high-profile events that catch the eye of the media. What he appears to be doing instead is taking a page out of his own playbook: he’s slowly, but surely, building grassroots support, far from the eyes of the media. Just this past weekend, for instance, he met with living-room groups in Anchorage, Wasilla, and Sheep Mountain.

Mike Coons, who is the former head of the Conservative Patriot Group and writes for a blog The Alaska Conservative, attended one of those meetings. He said that the room was packed.

Coons supported Miller in 2010, the last time he ran. This time, he hasn’t yet decided who he will vote for in the Republican primary. Treadwell isn’t conservative enough for him, and hasn’t yet heard much from Sullivan. He’s leaning strongly towards Miller because of his conservative values and because he’s reaching out to people like him.

“Stealth mode has advantages,” Coons said, who saw how it worked for Miller in 2010, when seemingly out of nowhere, Miller beat Murkowski in the Republican primary.

Indeed, in 2010, Miller didn’t file for that race until April, and only a few months prior to that, Murkowski’s polls had her positives at more than 60 percent. Murkowski had a war chest. Miller was a pauper in comparison.

Yet he won the primary. As Miller’s spokesperson, Randy DeSoto put it then: “If your message is good and it resonates with people, the person with the biggest bank account doesn’t necessarily win.”

One Valley political activist noted that people are so committed to Miller’s message, that his gatherings are reminiscent of revivalists meetings. The other candidates may have a lot going for them, but none, as of yet, have that.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Error riddled article on Senate candidate Sullivan sensationalizes tragic murders

Thursday began as a very good day for U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan. Roll Call, an inside-the-beltway publication owned by Congressional Quarterly, wrote a story about his campaign, highlighting that he worked for Condoleezza Rice in the Bush administration, his time in Alaska as the state’s attorney general and as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. It mentioned his service in the Marine Corps, and that he was deployed as a reservist to Afghanistan this summer.

“Sullivan’s résumé reads straight out of a Republican textbook,” Roll Call wrote.

Most importantly for Sullivan’s campaign, the article suggested that Sullivan might be out fundraising Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller, his opponents in the Republican primary.

And then another story appeared about Sullivan. This one was in Brietbart.com, an online conservative news site that was founded by the late Andrew Breitbart, who had been a staunch tea party and Sarah Palin supporter. The site has not been known for always getting things right and does not shy from controversies. The headline on this piece read, “Dan Sullivan, Alaska U.S. Senate candidate, ran office that let child molester free.”

An alternative headline read: “Dan Sullivan AK US Senate child molester coddler.” (That alternative headline appears to have been written for search engine optimization purposes, or for getting as many hits as possible. Hit baiting, they call it in the business.)

The article indicates that as attorney general, Sullivan was responsible for the heinous 2013 double murder and rape of a 2-year-old and 92-year-old in Anchorage.

Mike Anderson, Dan Sullivan’s spokesperson, said that the Brietbart article “is riddled with inaccuracies and reads like a political hatchet job.”

Indeed, the author appears to be using the crime to score political points against Sullivan by exploiting the victims and playing loose with the facts.

Jerry Andrew Active is accused of committing the crimes 12 hours after he was released from jail, where he was serving time for a parole violation. An error in the state database system likely was the result in the light sentence he received for a 2009 rape, after which he was let go, sent back to jail, and let go again.

Sullivan was attorney general during the time that Active received his “soft” sentence as a result of a plea deal. However, the initial charge for the 2009 rape happened months before Sullivan took the job, and the problem with the database pre-dated his tenure. According to a report done on the case by the current attorney general, the database error took place on Jan. 30, 2009, when Sullivan was on duty with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Sullivan wasn’t appointed as Alaska’s AG by Sarah Pain until June, 2009, five months after Active was charged, and was the DNR commissioner when Active committed his crimes.

Additionally, it was the database maintained by the Alaska Department of Public Safety that made the error on Active’s record; not the one maintained by the Department of Law, as the article states.

According to the Department of Law, “It is unreasonable to suggest that anyone could have predicted the crimes Mr. Active is presently charged with committing over the Memorial Day weekend in Anchorage this year.”

It’s unclear from whom or where the writer of the article, Charles Johnson, is getting his information. According to Sullivan’s press secretary, they played phone tag in late October or early November, but were never able to touch base.

The piece also appeared on Joe Miller’s website, the content of which is primarily culled from other conservative sources and websites. Miller’s campaign spokesperson did not return a call requesting comment.

Fred Brown, a spokesperson with Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s campaign responded to a request for comment via email. “This was a very tragic event,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims families for this senseless and heinous act of violence. I sincerely hope that the policies in the Attorney General’s office that let this criminal out onto the streets have been reviewed and addressed to ensure that something like this never happens again.”

During Sullivan’s time as AG, there were about 47,287 criminal cases handled by the Department of Law. About 12,155 of these cases were felonies, according to the department. His campaign said that his number one priority was “protecting Alaskans, particularly the most vulnerable.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Sullivan fundraiser proves he can raise money. Will he connect with Alaskans?

10349421_mThe food was lousy – greasy, boney, and ungainly – but the long awaited first fundraiser for former Alaska DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan’s run for U.S. Senate, held on Wednesday night at Ruby’s in midtown Anchorage, was a success. According to the campaign, the evening’s spoils were more than 25 percent of what his most heavily financed primary challenger, Mead Treadwell, managed to raise in 90 days.

Which would be about $50,000.

Depending on who you ask, somewhere between 70 to 100 people showed and a good many were co-hosts, such as former GOP chair Randy Ruedrich, ENSTAR president Colleen Starring, head of Alaska Gasline Development Authority Dan Fauske, Northrim Bank’s Marc Langland, private equity guy Mark Kroloff, Jim Jansen who owns Lynden Transport, Cook Inlet Tribal Council head Gloria O’Neill and the always aggravating lobbyist Ashley Reed, with whom I’m in a relationship.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan was there and joked about walking away with the evening’s take to use in his own race for lieutenant governor. Whatever you think about the mayor, he can be funny.

Also in attendance: Acting DNR Commish Joe Balash, head of Alaska Housing Finance Corp. Bryan Butcher, Alaska state Sen. Charlie Huggins and his lovely wife Becky, Alaska GOP brain trust Frank McQueary, and Attorney General Mike Geraghty, among others.

A handful of staffers from other campaigns also showed to monitor the event. “Trackers,” they’re called in political circles, and they’re pretty easy to spot. Their presence proved what some in the room were saying: Sullivan’s the candidate that most scares both Mark Begich and Mead Treadwell.

DNR Dan’s obviously got the money behind him, as well as the Republican credentials. But this is his first run at political office, and it sometimes shows. His campaign slogan is “New Energy for Alaska,” (the same slogan Sarah Palin used in her 2006 governor’s race) and his stump speech needs some of that energy. As I wrote before, Sullivan is at heart a Marine, but he also has the illusive quality best known as charm, and there’s a fine line between charm and superciliousness.

Treadwell doesn’t have charm. He does, however, have an awkward, pulling gravitas that can be appealing. Alaskans will accept a lot from their politicians, as long as they feel that you’re talking to them and with them as one of them. Sullivan has some work to do in this area, some are saying.

What Treadwell doesn’t seem to have, however, is a smart campaign. On Wednesday night, a young man from out of state sat in the building’s hallway, outside of the restaurant, taking pictures of those who were leaving. He said his name was Austin and that he was working for Treadwell. Everyone inside knew he was there and what he was doing. It was a horribly demoralizing job.

Some of Sullivan’s staffers went outside the restaurant to offer him food. He didn’t accept, but he looked hungry, and grateful.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com