Tag Archives: Byron Mallott

New poll shows Walker neck-and-neck with Parnell

A poll paid for by independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker shows that Walker is just one point behind Gov. Sean Parnell, if the two were able to go head-to-head in the general election without a third candidate. However, throw Democratic candidate Byron Mallott into the mix, and Parnell beats Walker by about 14 percent and Mallott by 26 percent. When Mallott and Parnell are put together, Parnell wins by about 21 percent. (The questions and results are below.)

The take-away, according to Ivan Moore, who conducted the poll: Continue reading


Democratic governor hopeful Mallott calls out Parnell for budget claims

On Thursday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott said that Gov. Sean Parnell was misleading the public about the state budget in a fundraising email that Parnell’s campaign sent out bragging about his fiscal record. “As Washington D.C. continues to overspend and overregulate, Governor Sean Parnell cut state general fund spending by $1.1 billion in the 2015 budget,” the fundraising email said.

Mallott, who isn’t known so far for his brass-knuckles responses, fired back: “Under Sean Parnell, Alaska has undergone an unprecedented fiscal collapse. Parnell took a $5 billion surplus and turned it into a $2 billion deficit,” Mallott wrote.

Indeed, Parnell is on tricky ground here. While he can technically say that he cut the budget, it’s only because his past budgets were so big. Too, the state took a whole category out of that budget. In previous years, the state’s contribution to the state’s retirement program had been in the operating budget. In fiscal year 2015, it’s not. In part, that’s because the state took an unprecedented $3 billion from the Constitutional Budget Reserve and put it towards the ballooning retirement program.

Many lauded Parnell for pushing, and for the Legislature passing, the one-time payment. But though it was likely wise fiscal policy, at least some portion of that should have been included in the budget in order to get an accurate comparison to previous years’ budgets. (See Brad Keithley’s blog post on that issue here.)

For his part, Mallott also appears to be doing some creative accounting. He leaves out the $3 billion when he refers to “liquidated budget surpluses.”

What is true is that under Parnell, the state is going into nearly $2 billion deficit spending. And at the same time, Parnell who signs the budget, as well as the Legislature which proposes it, have continually excoriated Washington D.C. for overspending. In April, Parnell signed a resolution passed by the Legislature calling for a federal balanced budget.

“Now it is time the federal government takes the necessary steps to address its out-of-control debt. America remains on an unsustainable spending path and we cannot rely on Congress or the president to fix this problem,” he said. 

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Mallott and Begich will team to hire 52 new staffers in rural Alaska

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott’s campaign manager said on Monday night that Mallott’s campaign will be coordinating with U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign, and that the two of them collectively will hire 52 new, paid staffers in rural Alaska. Thirty of those will be full time positions, Mary Halloran, the campaign manager said, and the remaining 22 will be part time.

The “coordinated campaign,” as the Democrats call it, will also open up field offices in the hub cities of Bethel, Nome, Dillingham and Barrow, Halloran said.

It’s unclear as of yet who will pay for what.

Halloran told a group convened for the first gathering of “Alaska Women for Mallott” that putting those resources in rural Alaska allows more time and energy to be put into working the rail belt, where the majority of Alaska’s population resides.

Begich won by about 4,000 votes in 2008 against the late Sen. Ted Stevens. Even though Stevens spent much of his career focused on helping rural Alaska, Begich was particularly strong in the region. And the campaign is obviously betting on the fact that teaming up with Mallott, who is an Alaska Native, will help both candidates.

Mallott himself wasn’t at Monday night’s event. He was at a funeral of a family friend.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


State-wide candidates try to connect with kids and seniors at forum

AARP Alaska, along with Anchorage middle schools, hosted both a gubernatorial and senatorial forum on Wednesday. About 100 people showed, most of whom were middle school students and the questions were written by them.  First up: The three candidates for governor—Democrat Byron Mallott, independent Bill Walker, and incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, who answered about 45 minutes worth of questions ranging from education, resource development, social security and healthcare. Many of the students were engaged, at least initially and were trying to understand. Others weren’t and couldn’t,

This was the second gubernatorial forum of the week. On Monday, the event was hosted by the Anchorage Chamber, and allowed for more back and forth, along with slight tension between Walker and Parnell, mostly over the natural gas pipeline. Walker doesn’t believe that the current plan in the works will get a gasline built. At the forum on Wednesday, Walker again lamented all the wasted years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying the gasline, and Parnell again said that the state is closer than ever.

But there was no heat in the exchanges. The candidates were limited to 60 second answers. Of all the candidates, the format suited Mallott the best, who has so far focused on generalities and platitudes and has shied far from specifics. About as specific as he got was when he said that his first act as governor would be to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, something that Parnell rejected. Walker said he would also expand the program, as long as he was assured that the feds would pick up 100 percent of the tab.

Parnell told the crowd, that those who would qualify for Medicaid already get access to primary care and emergency rooms “free of charge.”

If they hadn’t before, this is probably where they lost the children.

The group of 10 or so that I talked to after said that they didn’t understand a lot. One of them said they liked that Mallott talked more than the others about education. A few of them said that Walker seemed confident. Most of them said that they liked Parnell and felt more comfortable with him than with the others.

Up next was the GOP Senate forum, featuring Joe Miller, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and Dan Sullivan. This, too, was this group’s second time meeting. The last, moderated by KTUU Channel 2’s Steve MacDonald, wasn’t live, and lacked energy, at least the kind of energy that Sullivan appears to feed on. This one also contained few fireworks. The candidates spoke about federal government overreach, about honoring our vets, and about social security.

Miller said that he would work to privatize the program for those under 50 years old, which likely didn’t go well with the seniors in the group. The two others talked around the issue, but didn’t, like Miller, address it head on. Treadwell said that we’ve got to be “flexible,” when thinking about how to save social security. Sullivan said that when the country elects “serious leaders” there’s an “opportunity for serious reform.” He didn’t elaborate.

All three candidates oppose federal government overreach. All said they would focus on the youth. And all agreed that the minimum wage hike that’s being debated in Congress should be left up to individual states.

After it was over, the kids didn’t remember much of what they said, and were mostly stymied when I asked which one they thought did the best job. One said that they thought Treadwell’s experience was important. A few of the more outspoken ones said that Sullivan connected most with the audience. All of them remembered when Sullivan asked for a show of hands of all those who had done their homework the night before.

After about half the room raised them, he said that the passing of ObamaCare was a great example of legislators not doing their homework. “It was legislative malpractice,” he said. “Not healthcare form.”

One of the students after said she was surprised how few of her peers didn’t do their homework. She also said that she had wished social issues, like gay marriage, had been discussed.

Another said that he had heard a lot about ObamaCare. Then again, he was U.S. Rep. Don Young’s grandchild. His grandfather comes over for dinner a lot, he said, and talks a lot.

“About politics?” I asked.

Yes, the boy said. A lot about ObamaCare.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Mallott calls on Parnell to accept Supreme Court subsistence ruling

On Monday, the State of Alaska lost a big case involving federal subsistence rights. Here’s a summary of the case from the Anchorage Daily News:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a long-running dispute over management of Alaska’s waterways.The decision effectively upholds a lower court’s decision in what’s become popularly known as the ‘Katie John case.’ This continues the federal government control’s over hunting and fishing on navigable state-owned waters adjacent to federal land. The decision, a blow to the state and a victory for the Alaska Federation of Natives, upholds a 2013 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The state of Alaska had petitioned the high court, seeking review.

In a release, Alaska Native leader and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott praised the decision and called on Gov. Sean Parnell to abide by it:

Rather than pursue senseless litigation, the state should engage in meaningful dialogue with its rural residents and Native peoples to protect the subsistence way of life.   I call on Governor Parnell to accept the Supreme Court’s decision and direct his administration to work constructively towards a solution that is fair and lasting.

In 2001, when Gov. Tony Knowles was governor, the state also lost its challenge in the Ninth Circuit. Knowles declined to take it to the Supreme Court.

Many in the state were puzzled when Parnell decided to revisit the issue, which outraged many in the Alaska Native community, who described it as an “assault” on their subsistence rights.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Legal services says contribution ban likely unconstitutional

A legal opinion from a legislative lawyer says that the current law banning non-incumbent candidates for governor and lieutenant governor from soliciting funds from Juneau residents while the Legislature is in session is likely an “abridgment of the First Amendment freedoms of those persons who desire to contribute.”

Therefore, a court would likely find the ban unconstitutional, Alpheus Bullard, a lawyer with the state Legislative Affairs Agency’s legal services wrote.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the only rationale for restricting the time or place in which campaign contributions may be made is the threat of corruption or the appearance of corruption,” Bullard wrote.

Bullard wrote that the threat appears not to present the same concern with non-incumbents as it might with sitting legislators or with a sitting governor.

The court already found that a non-incumbent who was running for office could solicit funds during session from Juneau residents, but a candidate for the governor’s office appears not to have been addressed.

The opinion is in conflict with a March 14 opinion issued by the Alaska Public Offices Commission, which said that the law is not unconstitutional and that the court would likely uphold the ban.

The question to the Legislature’s lawyer was posed by Sen. Berta Gardner, who did not immediately respond to questions about why she had requested the decision and what she plans to do with it. Former Attorney General Bruce Botelho, who is campaigning for Mallott, said that he had not discussed the issue with Gardner.

The law, passed in 1998 along with a slate of other campaign finance reforms, is a particularly relevant one for Democrat Byron Mallott. Campaign restrictions already make it daunting for non-incumbents to build the kind of war chest they need to compete, and this law makes it all the more challenging. Mallott is from Juneau, and his campaign is headquartered there.

APOC said that Mallott could physically be in Juneau and still solicit funds, however, he couldn’t solicit them from Juneau residents.

Campaign contributions from Juneau residents given to a campaign during the session have to be mailed, unopened, to Anchorage.

Bethelo said that Mallott’s campaign wouldn’t likely challenge APOC’s decision and will continue to comply with the agency’s guidance.

The law also makes it tough for incumbents. In an electronic age with the regular use of Facebook, email solicitations and online contributions, how do you keep track of who is contributing from Juneau?

In order to try and comply with the law, Jerry Gallagher, who is Gov. Sean Parnell’s campaign manager, posed this and other questions to APOC in January. The agency said that campaigns must put a disclosure on websites and in solicitation emails. It also said that contributions have to be returned if the campaign is aware of any Juneau resident who contributed during session as a result of any solicitation.

Gallagher said the campaign is complying with the rules.

Read the legal services opinion here. Read APOC’s staff decision to Parnell’s campaign here. The Commission upheld the decision.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Bob Williams’ campaign releases poll

A poll conducted for lieutenant governor candidate Bob Williams shows that although Hollis French, the other Democratic candidate for the seat, has a greater name recognition, French also has larger negatives than does Williams.

Williams, a teacher from Palmer, paid for the poll, which was conducted by EMC Research, a firm with offices in Washington state, California, Idaho and Oregon. It surveyed 400 likely primary voters from Feb. 4-7, and has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

It also shows that a majority of voters will not be voting for Gov. Sean Parnell and that his negatives are more than 40 percent. In the poll, only 25 percent knew who Democratic candidate Byron Mallott was.

Note: The poll did not mention independent candidate Bill Walker’s name, which makes the gubernatorial numbers suspect.

The narrative accompanying the numbers says that French has “limited appeal outside of the base,” and that Williams has “significant upside potential with a strong ability to appeal to voters across the board.”

Williams is a political neophyte. However, he surprised many by reporting having raised more than $63,000 in his last report.

Here are some key numbers from the poll.

  • 54 percent will not vote for Parnell. 16 percent will “definitely” vote for him, and 26 will “probably” vote for him.
  • 40 percent have a negative view of Parnell.
  • Mallott only has a 25 percent name ID.
  • French has a 54 percent name ID.
  • 22 percent have a negative view of French.
  • Williams only has a 10 percent name ID.

Among those who have heard of him in Anchorage, Williams’ favorability ratings is 12 points higher than French’s.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Mallott: ‘Alaska’s judiciary is under attack’

Below is a statement from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott in reaction to House Judiciary Committee action of HJR 33 to change the composition of the Alaska Judicial Council.

“Alaska’s judiciary is under attack and Alaskans need to rally to its defense. Our judiciary is universally regarded as one of the finest in the nation. That is because of the selection process our founders established in the state constitution—that the governor appoint a judge from among candidates recommended by a seven member panel that consists of three lawyers, three lay citizens and the chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court. Now some politicians want to fundamentally alter the make-up of the judicial council to reshape the judiciary into an ideological rubber stamp of government actions. They also seek to impose insurmountable barriers to lawsuits filed by citizens against corporate interests. We cannot allow them to take away the judiciary’s independence or weaken its power to protect the public.”

Continue reading


State campaign restriction being questioned by both sides

A law restricting gubernatorial candidates from soliciting or accepting campaign donations from anybody who lives or happens to be in Juneau during the legislative session is being questioned by gubernatorial candidates from both sides of the aisle.

The law was written in 1996, along with a host of other laws that restricted campaign finances, including limiting donations from individuals from $1000 to $500 a year, limiting party donations, restricting lobbyists’ contributions, and banning union and businesses from directly contributing to a candidate.

Juneau-based lawyer Bruce Botelho, who is campaigning for Democratic candidate Byron Mallott, wrote to the Alaska Public Offices Commission that given the Alaska state Supreme Court’s ruling in another part of the law, the law as it pertained to Mallott appeared to be unconstitutional. Given that other ruling, he asked for an advisory opinion as to whether or not the law was going to be enforced.

Botelho was the Alaska state Attorney General under then Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles when the campaign finance laws were passed. Knowles supported the laws.

The Commission is expected to issue its opinion this week.

Since the legislative session began, it appears that about 15 Juneau residents have contributed to Mallot’s campaign, giving a total of about $3,000. The campaign said that all such donations were forwarded to Anchorage and that the campaign had not asked for donations in Juneau since the session.

Still, the Commission could rule that the donations have to be returned.

Bill Walker, who is running as an independent, had a gathering in Juneau earlier this session. He was not aware of the law. He said he received about three contributions during that gathering and that he would return those contributions.

Campaign restrictions already make it daunting for non-incumbents to build the kind of war chest they need to compete, and this law makes it all the more challenging, particularly for Mallott, who is from Juneau and presumably has a deep bench of support there.

The law also makes it tough for incumbents. In an electronic age with the regular use of Facebook and email solicitations, how do you keep track of who is contributing from Juneau?

In order to try and comply with the law, Jerry Gallagher, who is Gov. Sean Parnell’s campaign manager, posed this and other questions to APOC. In the meantime, Parnell’s campaign has included the following disclosure on its email solicitations:

Under recent advice from the Alaska Public Offices Commission, we are required to tell you that if you receive this email, and you are in the City and Borough of Juneau, you may not contribute in Juneau while the Legislature is in session.

Mallott’s campaign said that it will also include that disclosure in its campaign solicitations.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker’s campaign report

There must have been something wrong with my eyes last night when I was searching through APOC for campaign report numbers, because I missed independent candidate Bill Walker’s numbers. In any case, Walker raised $202,629, of which $29,000 is his own money. He spent $77,952 leaving him with $124,677, a respectable amount for a non-incumbent independent.

In comparison, the Democrat in the race, Byron Mallott, raised an impressive $234,000. However, $40,000 of that came from the Democratic Party, and he spent $188,136 and owes $9,633. This leaves him with only $36,580 to spend.

Gov. Sean Parnell raised $407,253 and only spent $76,220.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Some surprises in campaign fundraising reports

10349421_mCampaign disclosure reports were due on Tuesday, and there were a few surprises in the money game. For one, GOP lieutenant governor candidate Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire out-raised Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, who is also running for the seat. On the Democratic side of the aisle for lieutenant governor, relatively unknown Bob Williams sort of out-raised Sen. Hollis French. In the race for governor, Democrat Byron Mallott raised more than expected, but he spent more than expected too. Read on for details.

  • Gov. Sean Parnell raised $407,253 this election cycle. He spent $76,220, leaving him with a hefty amount to spend on the race. Much of his staff so far, like Jerry Gallagher, have been working as volunteers. Such is the luxury of incumbency.
  • Byron Mallott raised an impressive $234,000, which included $40,000 from the Alaska Democratic Party. However, he spent $188,136 and owes $9,633, leaving him with $36,580 to spend. Much of the money he raised went to traveling around the state. A good chunk also went to staff. He spent $27,000 for management expenses to Vantage Point, a consulting firm. He paid his communications director campaign manger Claire Richardson more than $19,000, and thousands went to other staffers.
  • Independent Bill Walker raised $202,629, of which $29,000 is his own money. He spent $77,952 leaving him with $124,677, a respectable amount for a non-incumbent independent.
  • GOP  lieutenant governor candidate Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire raised more than $108,000 and spent about $35,000, leaving her with about $73,000 on hand. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan raised about $91,000, and has $57,000 left to spend.
  • Another surprise: Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Bob Williams raised $63,000, about $12,000 more than was reported by Sen. Hollis French. If you compare debts, however, Williams has $41,324 left to spend and French has $51,700. (The numbers are a little tricky because French brought $22,605 to the campaign, about $8,000 of which are funds from a previous state Senate race. The rest came from when he began raising money in August to run for governor. He changed his candidacy to lieutenant governor in October.)
  • In another race that I’m watching, Republican Rep. Lindsey Holmes raised $42,152. She brought $4,800 into the campaign and still has more than $44,200 on hand. One of her Democratic challengers, Clare Ross, raised $31,427, which is pretty impressive for a political neophyte. Ross has $18,717 to spend. Matt Claman, who’s not a political neophyte and who is also running for Holmes’ seat, raised $34,663 and has $21,974 left over.

I’ll have more on these and other numbers on Wednesday.

UPDATED: The story was updated to include Bill Walker’s tally.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Gubernatorial candidate Mallott’s $230,000 campaign haul surprises some

According to his campaign, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott raised $233,427 from October 2013 to February 1st, 2014, and received 1,100 individual contributions. Mallott will not file his official fundraising report until the deadline this weekend, but apparently wanted to get something out on the same day that Gov. Sean Parnell filed his report, showing that he had raised $407,253.

Mallott, who hasn’t been overly visible in Anchorage, did better than some pundits in Anchorage had been predicting. Anchorage based political consultant Marc Hellenthal, for one, was surprised and impressed, he said. He said that he didn’t believe that Mallott would raise more than $100,000, mostly because he’s run a relatively low-profile campaign.

Apparently, however, Mallott has been more active outside of Anchorage than many knew. According to his campaign, Mallott has been holding “Conversations with Alaskans” all across the state. His travels have been in keeping with his stump speeches, which have called on the state’s leaders to reach out beyond the power centers and to listen to all Alaskans.

“We’re going to run a spirited campaign that unites Alaskans around common values and common sense, and we’re off to a great start,” Mallott said in a press release.

Mallott is a young 70-year-old and has both business and political experience. If elected, he would be Alaska’s first governor of Alaska Native descent.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s unclear how much money Mallott spent getting those donations. His campaign didn’t immediately answer that question. Parnell still has more than $330,000 cash on hand.
  • As Mallott pointed out in his release, he raised more money than did Parnell during the comparable period when Parnell ran in 2010.
  • Because Mallott got into the race in October, Parnell had a six-moth fundraising advantage on him.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Parnell raises more than $400,000 this election cycle

Gov. Sean Parnell filed his disclosure with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Wednesday morning, showing that he has raised $407,253 this election cycle, which ran from April 15, 2013 to Feb. 1 of this year. He spent $76,220, leaving him with a hefty  amount to spend on the race.

Parnell’s campaign said in a press release that about 93 percent of that money came from 1,100 Alaskan donors, who are limited to $500 donations per year.

“I am both grateful and humbled by the incredible amount of support shown by Alaskans,” Parnell said in the release. “Our message of proven leadership and opportunity for all Alaskans is resonating.”

The reports aren’t officially due until Saturday. The other candidates, independent Bill Walker and Democrat Byron Mallott haven’t yet filed their reports. Neither was immediately available for comment.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Democratic challenger Mallott reacts to Parnell’s State of the State

byron mallottBelow is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott’s press release reacting to Gov. Sean Parnell’s State of the State on Wednesday. Mallott, like Parnell, wants more jobs, greater diversification, safer communities, and a robust investment climate.

The two areas of disagreement are on education and expanding Medicaid.

Late last year, Parnell rejected federal money to expand Medicaid, a joint federal/state insurance program for poor Alaskans. “Governor Parnell’s refusal to accept the Federal Medicaid Waiver must be reversed so that 40,000 vulnerable Alaskans can receive the health care they urgently require,” Mallott wrote.

In his State of the State, Parnell called for reform of the state’s educational system, including allowing the public to vote on whether or not public money should go to private and educational institutions.

“Public dollars must go to public schools,” Mallott wrote.

Here’s Mallott’s press release in full:

Alaska is a state of great promise and our future as Alaskans can be bright. But we need leadership to match the challenges and opportunities of today. Alaskans are faced right now with a public education funding crisis that demands immediate legislative action. Governor Parnell wants to divert public dollars to private education when every public education dollar must go to making Alaska’s education system the very best. Public dollars must go to public schools.

Alaskans together must address the challenge of a $2 billion budget revenue deficit that is expected to grow in future years. This session of the Alaska Legislature must focus diligently on reshaping spending to meet the urgent needs faced by every Alaskan, their families, and communities. Governor Parnell’s refusal to accept the Federal Medicaid Waiver must be reversed so that 40,000 vulnerable Alaskans can receive the health care they urgently require. Public safety and a justice system that is responsive to the need of every Alaskan must be strengthened. Job creation and economic diversification is crucial. Reducing the cost of energy for electricity, heating and transportation in Alaska must be a priority. A gas pipeline project that meets Alaska’s need for in-state energy, stable long-term export revenue, and jobs for Alaskans must be a priority that all Alaskans can understand and embrace. A stable, durable oil tax that is needed both for vital oil industry investment and robust public revenue must be agreed to by all Alaskans.

Governor Parnell’s agreement with Alaska democratic legislative leaders’ call for funding Alaska’s pension retirement gap is a step in the right direction to meet both responsible budgeting and a constitutional obligation. I urge the Legislature and Governor in these critical times to reach out to all Alaskans so that together in open, transparent, and responsible dialogue and decision making we can make the best choices for Alaska’s future.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Mallott shares his vision for Alaska

byron mallott IIDemocratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott spoke to a friendly crowd of about 30 people on Thursday at the Democratic Bartlett Club in Anchorage. Without using notes, he spoke for about 40 minutes on subjects ranging from education to oil to declining state coffers. With every subject, he was able to weave in the central theme of his campaign: unifying all Alaskans.

Bringing Alaskans together has been Mallott’s theme since he announced he was running for governor in mid-October. He didn’t deliver a tub -thumper, but his stump speech has gotten better over time, and he always talks as if it’s coming from his heart.

Mallott is a young 70-year-old and brings a unique understanding and perspective to both government service and the private sector, as well as to the rural/urban divide that plagues Alaska. At 22 he was the mayor of Yakutat. He was commissioner of the Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs under Gov. Bill Egan. He served as mayor of Juneau before becoming the executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund. He was the CEO of Sealaska Corp, president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, and has served on the board of many corporations.

One of the biggest applause lines of his talk came when Mallott repeated what he had said before: that he would personally vote to repeal the oil tax bill, or SB 21, that was passed last legislative session and gives oil companies a tax break during times of high oil prices. The repeal is going to figure more prominently as those who support it get more organized, and those who oppose the appeal begin to fight back.

Mallott tempered his statement, however, by saying that his vote for the repeal will be a “nuanced” one. He said that regardless of whether or not the bill is repealed, the state needs to provide a stable climate in which to do business, and it needs to recognize the risks the oil companies take in Alaska.

He also warned the crowd not to demonize those who disagree.

“It will not serve us to continue a divisive debate,” he said. “We can all speak to issues and can come away with the sense that we are all in this together.”

Indeed, support to repeal the oil tax bill is turning into a Democratic litmus test, much like support to repeal ObamaCare has turned into a litmus test for Republicans.

But the bulk of Mallott’s speech was spent laying out a vision for an Alaska as a “place that cares,” as a place that encourages diversity and visionaries, as a place that reaches out to businesses to come to Alaska, and a place that has the most vibrant university system in the country.

If we don’t create such a place, he said, “the least among us loses, and we can’t have that in Alaska.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com