Mat-Su Valley fundraisers are different than fundraisers in Anchorage. For one, the view is to die for. Secondly, the food is a lot better than at your run-of-the-mill Anchorage fundraiser. The menu at Mayor Dan Sullivan’s event on Thursday night included prime rib, barbeque ribs, chicken, shrimp, and as many kinds of side dishes as the kind of people there.
And unlike most fundraisers in Anchorage, there were a lot of different types of people at the New Horizon’s Hanger in Palmer to greet Sullivan, who is running for lieutenant governor in the Republican primary. About 100 showed throughout the evening. Tea party supporters and businessmen and women, politicians and construction workers. Bob Pickett, chairman of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska was there. So was Dave Cruz, who owns Cruz construction which does business on the North Slope and in North Dakota. A few homemakers. A man who invests in alternative energy projects across the country as well as in an airship business.
Another man wearing a cap that read “Dysfunctional Veteran: Leave Me Alone.” Bill Tull, a lawyer who is a huge supporter of the local arts community was there, as was Rep. Bill Stoltze.
Warm introductions and near endorsements were made by Mat-Su Borough Assemblyman and former vice-chair of the Alaska Republican Party Steve Colligan, Larry DeVilbiss who’s mayor of the borough and the founding member of the Alaska Organic Association, and Palmer Mayor DeLana Johnson, who is living proof that the Valley not only grows good carrots but fetching mayors as well.
The questions were also pointed and Sullivan didn’t pander to the questioners. After Sullivan’s introductory remarks, one person asked about the best route for a natural gas pipeline. Some in the Valley are hoping that if it ever gets built, the terminus will be in the area. Sullivan, however, said that he thought Valdez would make more sense. Vouchers? He’s not quite willing to completely endorse them, but he did point to the success that Milwaukee has had with its voucher program.
In order to win the election, “the Valley is key,” Sullivan said. Indeed, in the 2012 primary election, 80 percent of the people voting in the Mat-Su borough took the Republican ballot. Factoring the turnout, the Valley was more important in the Republican primary than was Fairbanks, Alaska’s second largest city.
Anybody who wants to win the Valley should at least talk to the man wearing the “Dysfunctional Veteran: Leave Me Alone” cap. His name is Mike Coons, and he’s the kind of tea party activist that has helped catapult that group into the national spotlight. He is the former head of the Conservative Patriots Group and was a member of the Alaska State Defense Force, the official state militia. He comments on blogs and on Facebook. He has a long email list. He’s, in a word, active.
Between Sullivan and the other Republican in the race so far, Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire, Coons doesn’t know who he is going to vote for. For all of his trenchant views, he’s keeping an open mind. But he wants to talk to both of them. And he has a lot to say about government overreach. About the budget. About the way the state and the country, his country with a view to die for, is run.
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