Monthly Archives: October 2013

State bigwigs slated for higher paychecks

18737767_mGov. Sean Parnell makes $145,000 a year. The Alaska State Compensation Commission this week has recommended Parnell’s compensation be increased almost $6,000 to $150,872.

Governors across the country are paid on average $133,348 according to the Council of State Governments. In 2013, governors in Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Tennessee got raises. The average raise was $4,115.

The highest paid governor is in Pennsylvania and the lowest in Maine, being paid respectively $187,256 and $70,000.

The State Compensation Commission also recommended that the lieutenant governor’s salary be increased from $115,000 to $119,657. Salaries for lieutenant governors across the country range from a low of $30,400 in Idaho, to a high of $153,907 in Pennsylvania. Many other states, including those, also have secretaries of state.

The largest increases recommended are for cabinet members who are the commissioners that serve as the principal department heads in state government. Commissioners are currently paid $136,350. That would increase almost $10,000 to $146,142.

The recommendations are slated to take effect in the new fiscal year on July 1 unless the Legislature passes a bill denying the recommended increases within 60 days of their submission in the 2014 legislative session.

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Legislators on the Facebook case

16906605_mThe Legislative Council chaired by Rep. Mike Hawker decided that legislative staff will no longer be able to use their personal Facebook accounts while working in renovated offices, the cost of which was approved by the same Legislative Council, at a cost of $281,638 a month and was the result of a no-bid contract with developer Mark Pfeffer, a prodigious campaign contributor and on the board of the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank Authority. Glad our legislators are on the case.


Happy Halloween: Pete Kelly goes as Joe Paskvan

It could have been a Halloween joke, and if so, it would have been a doozy if legislators had a sense of humor. Most don’t and it wasn’t and the legislative directory was fixed before it went to press. Anyway, click on the link below to see what Sen. Pete Kelly would look like if he were really Joe Paskvan. Wait! Are the omniscient people at the Legislative Information Office trying to tell us something?  Has anybody seen or talked to Paskvan lately? Is that an SOS sign behind him?

Legislator Photo Sheet updated


Dems use spicy chili to fire up the base

11044835_mGive a politician a mic and they’ll certainly use it. Give it to a dozen or so, each having his or her turn, and that’s a lot of mic time. It’s a lot easier to listen to politicians talking into those mics with a beer in hand, and it was a good thing they had plenty of those at the Democrat’s annual chili cook off contest on Wednesday night at the IBEW hall in Anchorage.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that the Dems are hard to listen to, and the 150 or so there seemed to enjoy doing so. Joe Griffith, the President of MEA, was there.Lobbyist Jim Lottsfeldt was there. As was Anchorage Assemblyman Pat Flynn, Dean and Rhonda Roberts, and Jake Metcalf, Jane and Norman Schlittler, Malcom and Cindy Roberts, to name a few, all there, smiling and fired up.

In fact, the Dems were about as happy as I’ve seen them for a long time. They have a good candidate for governor in Byron Mallott, who was there briefly. Former Rep. Harry Crawford announced that he’s going to run again. He said he’ll wait until the redistricting mess is worked out before making the final decision about whether to run for House or Senate. As the district is drawn now, it will be against either Rep. Lance Pruitt or Sen. Cathy Giessel. In any case, he’s going to be a strong candidate.

The Dems also feel that they have an issue to rally around in repealing SB 21, or, in their words, the “oil tax give away.” The issue has turned into a Democratic litmus test of sorts, and even Byron Mallott, who has historically supported business, has gone along.

Going against an industry that supports 90 percent of your state budget, say nothing of an industry with no end of pockets, probably isn’t, in the long run, a winning strategy. But for the moment at least, it makes good politics. In the same way that repealing ObamaCare is, at the moment, good politics, among a certain crowd. But that’s a small crowd. In the middle, where most of us live, those who are arguing to fix, rather than repeal, are making the most sense.

The speeches went on too long, but it helped that Hollis French knows how to entertain an audience. He was electrifying. Johnny Ellis made people in the room feel special through introductions and recognition. Bill Wielechowski used his boyish charm. Berta Gardner has enough moral authority to smack down Ted Cruz with a smile, and it showed.

They spoke about health care, about more money for education, about social programs, about women’s rights. But most of the discussion centered around the repeal of SB 21. Buttons, proclaiming that “It’s our oil,” were even made in the repeal’s honor.

I’ve been told that the oil companies will spend whatever it takes to make sure that the law isn’t repealed. The repeal effort will not be able to match them in funds. But money doesn’t always win. The public, the reasonable ones, is pretty good at listening to both sides and ferreting out the truth.

The award for the best chili of the night went Heidi Drygas who is a labor union lawyer and has a food blog. She deserved the win. It had just the right amount of spices. It wasn’t too spicy, nor too mild.

It appealed to the middle.

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Correction: The original piece said that Drygas worked for the IBEW.


GOP official and Keithley take their fight to Facebook

men fighting Some sort of public brouhaha was bound to transpire between Brad Keithley, who is threatening to run for governor, and Frank McQueary, who’s fast becoming the whole trust in Alaska’s GOP shrinking braintrust. They’ve been griping about each other through intermediaries, one of whom would be me, for months.

Now, it’s spread onto Facebook. (Read here and here.)

To be fair, McQueary is the one doing the griping, and Keithley is the one defending himself, but I do detect a gripe in his voice as he does so. As there should be.

Keithley has been touting a message, and it’s one that Republicans, especially Republicans in the governor’s office, don’t much like. Namely, he’s been criticizing Gov. Sean Parnell for overspending and has been calling on him to walk his fiscal conservative talk and to substantially cut the budget. He has said on numerous occasions that if Parnell’s budget isn’t substantially decreased, then he’d consider taking a shot at running as an independent candidate.

By substantial he’s talking about $1.5 billion. That’s a lot of money. Keithley’s been taking his message to the people, armed with charts and graphs, which lay out a worst-case scenario if the budget isn’t cut.

McQueary doesn’t believe that our economy can sustain such a serious budget cut. Besides, he’s suspicious of Keithley’s motives. He’s long been wondering if Keithley isn’t a Democratic spoiler. He points to contributions that Keithley has made to the Dems. Further, he points out that the Alaska Constitution mandates that a candidate for governor be a resident of Alaska for seven years. Keithley says that by the time he runs, if he runs, he will have fulfilled the residency requirements. McQueary isn’t buying it. He points out that Keithley didn’t registered to vote here until 2010.

Keithley argues back that residency doesn’t require voter registration.

And it goes on.

This piece is on the verge of epitomizing the kind of “he-said-she-said” reporting for which sites like this were supposed to provide an antidote.

But I have no great insights here, except to say that perhaps they should get together and have a cup coffee. They’re both smart people and agree on more than they disagree, and if they used their brain powers to figure out HOW to cut to the budget, then we’ll all be in better shape.

Keithley: Since you brought it up, this one’s mostly on you.

As McQueary said when I talked to him, quod erat demonstrandum. Spenard translation: Them’s fightin’ words.

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Among old Anchorage, Dan Coffey announces his candidacy for mayor

Maybe it’s the lack of more than a handful of places to shop, of a sparkling downtown, of fancy events, of more than a few nice restaurants, but you can forget that there’s money in this town. Old money. Not like the money in Seattle, Dallas, or even Denver, say, and it doesn’t present itself like it does in those places, but it’s here, and on Tuesday night, much of it was concentrated in a house in downtown Anchorage with a killer view of the Cook Inlet.

The house belongs to Bill and Michelle Bittner, who opened their home to Dan Coffey to announce that he’s running for mayor in 2015. Bill is an Anchorage boy and like many in the room, grew up with Coffey. He’s a brilliant lawyer, and he’s easy company. You want to tell him things. And Michelle looks like she just walked out of a commercial for women who want to look like they just walked out of a commercial effortlessly.

Anyway, this isn’t a piece about the Bittners, though I could spend time on them on page forever. This is a piece about those who helped build this city, about misconceptions, and about Dan Coffey.

You’ll likely not find many of the people who showed on Tuesday night at other political fundraisers. It might be true that Republicans generally have the lock on the business vote, and that trial lawyers vote Democrat, but successful people tend not to be ideologues, and most have better things to do with their evenings than go to fundraisers.

But Coffey is one of their own. He’s from the Anchorage class of 1964, and give or take a few years, so were many of the people at the party. LIke Coffey, many of them or their parents came to Alaska to find and help build a new city. They built the banks, the stores, the insurance and construction companies, the businesses that create a community.

Among the 100 or so present was Dan Cuddy, president of the homespun First National Bank. There was Bob Mintz, who manages the Carr Gottstein properties. Bill Odom, whose father more than 70 years ago founded Odom Corp., one of the biggest wholesale beverage distribution companies in the Pacific Northwest. John McManamin showed. The McManamin family owns some of the most valuable land in the city. Businessman Mike Renfro was there. Chris and Mike Swalling were there. Their father, Al, brought Coffey from Seattle to Anchorage when he was six days old and handed him over to his adoptive parents. Mary Hughes was there. The infamous Bob Gilliam wasn’t there, but he’ll show eventually. He was, after all, in that class of 1964.

Current Mayor Dan Sullivan introduced and endorsed Coffey.

I had never seen most of these people, and political consultant Marc Hellenthal had to help me figure out who was who. Hellenthal grew up with Coffey and is from one of those old Anchorage families.

Coffey couldn’t be missed, however. He’s got a presence, as people who get things done often do. He sometimes doesn’t know when to tone that presence down, and it has gotten him in trouble more than a few times in the past.

“I think I can offer something,” he told me. “I think I can make this a better place to live,” he said, as if it were a new idea to him. Prior to Tuesday night, I only knew Coffey by reputation, and one thing I wouldn’t have guessed about him is how sincere he can be.

Turns out there is a lot about him that I didn’t know. Although he maybe a lawyer to the liquor lobby, he’s also a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink for more than 30 years. I didn’t know that he was a registered Democrat before changing to independent when he ran for Anchorage Assembly. I knew that he has a reputation as a fiscal conservative, but I didn’t know that at heart, he’s a social liberal, particularly when it comes to the homeless and the poor.

Mostly it didn’t occur to me how much courage it takes for him to run. He’s got long history here, and he’s going to be put under a microscope, slammed by his opponents and criticized by the media (maybe even by me), and he knows it and yet he’s still going for it. Why? He doesn’t need the money or the prestige or the name recognition. After all, there’s already a street named after his family.

Coffey said that Anchorage has been good to him, to his family, and to many of the families in the room. He wants others to have the opportunities that they all had. His friends, those who showed on Tuesday night, understood.

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Government shutdown could cost Alaska up to $39 million

Using Moody’s Analytics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee says that the recent government shutdown could cost Alaska as much as $39 million in lost wages, federal funds, and in impacts from lost federal contracts.

The 16-day federal government shutdown was at its heart a fight over the funding of Obamacare and affected, among other things, disability checks, veterans’ benefits, and federal lands and contracts.

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who is running in the U.S. Senate Republican primary, has been repeatedly calling for the repeal of Obamacare.  At one point Treadwell said that he would “stand” with the senators who were supporting the shutdown, and at other times said that he wouldn’t. Another candidate, Joe Miller, unequivocally supported it.

The DSCC called both of them “reckless,” and said that they were putting “partisanship ahead of Alaska.”

Former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan, who is also running in the Republican primary, has yet to address the issue. He declined to answer questions on the day that he announced his run on Oct. 15, the day before the shutdown ended.

Both Sens. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and Democrat Mark Begich worked to end the impasse.

Alaska appears to be faring better than other states with a high federal presence. Washington D.C. is expected to be hit hardest, followed by Maryland and West Virginia.

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Get your meatballs here! This week in fundraising fun.

15163349_mAre there more fundraisers in Alaska than elsewhere? It sure feels that we’re awash in them and that if you really wanted to, you could spend all your evenings, for eternity, eating meatballs and celery sticks while men who use hair products talk about how they’re going to redecorate their new Anchorage legislative offices that they never use while bureaucrats discuss their ever-bulging mileage accounts.

Sound fun? Welcome to my world. Anyway, there may be others, but here’s  what’s going on just this week:

On Monday night, Gov. Sean Parnell attended a campaign event in Kenai held at a private residence. More than 50 people showed. Tuesday at noon, Parnell will be attending a fundraising luncheon in Anchorage that is reportedly already over-subscribed. And in case you’re just coming fresh from a root canal, on Tuesday night, Parnell will be having a fundraiser at the appropriately named Advanced Pain Centers on Abbott Road from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The public is welcome.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker will be having an event on Tuesday evening as well. It is hosted by, among many others, Wayne Anthony Ross. WAR doesn’t use hair products or talk about redecorating anything, except perhaps his own private shooting range. (P.S. I’ve missed that guy.)

Also on Tuesday evening Dan Coffey is expected to announce his candidacy for mayor of Anchorage at the residence of Bill and Michelle Bittner, and that election isn’t until 2015.

If you’re in D.C. and feeling left out of the fun, DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan will be attending an early evening event supporting his candidacy with several prominent and well-known hosts from the Bush White House. And Mead Treadwell is in D.C. at a fundraiseron Monday night hosted by tea party braintrust Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform.

On Wednesday evening, the Alaska Senate Democrats in conjunction with the Alaska Young Democrats are hosting their Fall Fiesta and Chili Cook Off from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at 3333 Denali Street. Everyone is welcome and anyone can participate in the contest. Bring your best chili. The chili judges are Senator Bettye Davis, Anchorage Assembly members Pat Flynn and Tim Steele, and AK Young Democrats’ president Joe Samaniego. The price tag for this event is whatever you’d like to give all the way up to $5000.00.

And if you still have any interest or money left in your checkbook, there is an event Thursday evening at La Mex off Diamond for Speaker of the House Mike Chenault and uber fundraiser Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux who are both seeking reelection.

If you know of others, email me at the address below.

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DNR Dan Sullivan’s primary election voting problem

21813094_mlOf the three candidates in the U.S. Senate Republican primary race so far, it looks like former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan is the candidate who can raise money. His first fundraiser brought in about $50,000, which was more than 25 percent of what his most heavily financed primary challenger, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, managed to raise in 90 days.

His opponents know this. Both Treadwell and incumbent Sen. Mark Begich are trying to stick him with the rap that he’s not a real Alaskan and that he’s using the state for his own personal political advancement.

His voting record, specifically that he missed voting in primary elections, will likely be used to further that rap.

While Sullivan has voted in every general since at least 2004, when public records are available, he has only voted in two of five primaries in those years. He skipped the 2004, 2006 and 2008 primary elections.

The Republican primary race in Alaska in 2004 was relatively uneventful. There was no governor’s race, and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only member of the delegation to have a challenger, whom she beat handily. In 2006, however, the governor’s primary race was a three-way one, pitting challengers Sarah Palin and John Binkley against incumbent Frank Murkowski. (The rest of that story, as they say, is history.)

In 2008, Rep. Don Young only won the primary by about 300 votes against current Gov. Sean Parnell.

Joe Miller did not vote in the 2008 primary, but voted in all of the others since 2004. Neither Treadwell or Begich have missed an election.

Sullivan’s spokesperson Mike Anderson sent the following email in response to questions about his voting record:

Since coming to Alaska over 16 years ago, Dan has always voted in the state. While serving his country after 9/11, he stayed engaged in voting in Alaska while working as a National Security Council staff at the White House, then as a Marine Corps Infantry officer and finally as an Assistant Secretary of State. During that period, he did miss a few primary votes, but never missed a general election vote.

Sullivan moved to Alaska in 1997 after getting a Georgetown law degree to clerk for judges, including Chief Justice Warren Matthews. He was in private practice until 2002, when he moved to D.C. to head the International Economics Directorate of the National Economic Council and National Security Council under George W. Bush. He left the White House to become an assistant secretary of state.

In 2009, then Gov. Sarah Palin appointed him to become Alaska’s attorney general. Sullivan has also served in the Marine Corps since 1993, both on active duty and in the reserves. He was recently called to active duty to work on a counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan.

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What’s Parnell hiding in that secret Medicaid report?

In Sunday’s Anchorage Daily News, Rich Mauer wrote again about the report commissioned by the state on Medicaid expansion that Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration has for months refused to release. Their refusal is based on “deliberative process,” a catchall phrase, apparently, used by the administration to encompass anything that they’re thinking about.

Parnell hasn’t yet decided whether or not he’s going to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, a linchpin of ObamaCare. He claims to be looking out for the state’s best fiscal interest.

It should be noted here that since Parnell took over, the state’s share of the budget has increased by 55 percent and government employment has increased by 3.9 percent. A not unsubstantial part of that increase is due to rising health care costs, for which a large portion of state workers, including state legislators and those in the executive office, pay nothing in monthly premiums.

Like other Republican governors across the country, Parnell’s likely getting pressure from groups opposed to the law, including the anti-tax group, the Club For Growth, which heavily supported him during his 2008 run against Rep. Don Young.

However, As Mauer points out, there are other ways of getting information about the effects of Medicaid expansion. Through various sources, this is what is known, according to the ADN:

• 41,500 uninsured Alaska residents, including 15,700 Alaska Natives, would become eligible for Medicaid if the expansion is approved (ANTHC).

• Alaska’s statewide mortality rate would decline significantly — one prevented death per year for each 176 newly covered adults (ANTHC).

• About 3,500 new jobs would be created by 2017 through expansion (ANTHC).

• Between 2014 and 2020, the state would spend $90.7 million on expansion, while receiving $1.1 billion federal funds. Savings in other programs would offset the state contribution by at least $67.3 million. Over the first five years, the offsets would actually be greater than the expenditures on Medicaid (ANTHC).

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New Alaska Railroad president takes over in troubled times

railroadThe new president of the Alaska Railroad Corp. is Bill O’Leary, who has been an executive with the railroad since 2001, most recently as chief operating officer. As I wrote last week, the railroad received around 200 applications for the position. It’s unclear how many were interviewed.

O’Leary is from Fairbanks and has an accounting degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He’s well liked and respected among the organization. However, his political mettle has yet to be tested and he’ll need some of that going into the next legislative session.

The railroad has seen better days. It’s had a $45 million drop in revenues in the past two years and is requesting that Gov. Sean Parnell include $40 million in his fiscal year 2015 budget submission for safety improvements to passenger service. The railroad is making the request to comply with federally mandated passenger safety upgrades. All told, the railroad will need an additional $69.7 million from 2015 to 2018 to complete the project.

“At stake is the continuation of Alaska Railroad passenger service,” railroad spokesman Tim Sullivan said.

The railroad received $19.1 from the legislature last year, an appropriation that was requested by Parnell in the final hours of the legislative session without time for committee review or public comment.

Roughly 400,000 people a year ride the railroad. About 60 percent of those passengers come to Alaska via cruise ships. It’s unclear how many Alaskans take the train. The direct financial impact to Alaska if the passenger service is disrupted is also unclear. The railroad is working on an impact study, Sullivan said.

A disruption would undoubtedly impact businesses and communities that rely on tourism.

The railroad and all its assets were transferred from federal to state hands in 1985 and were established as a state-owned corporation. Those assets now total about $989 million and include about 500 miles of railroad line and about 36,000 acres of land, about half of which are available for lease, and which accounted for roughly $10 million of the railroad’s revenue in 2012.

It does not pay state or corporate income taxes, nor any property taxes.

Its total revenue in 2012 was $190.4 million, including about $40 million of federal government grants.

According to the railroad’s annual report, operating revenues exceeded operating expenses by $3.8 million.

Unlike the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., another state corporation, the Legislature has no say over the railroad’s budget, and it doesn’t pay annual dividends to the state. The intent was for the corporation to use any profits to be self-sustaining. However since 1996, it has relied on federal grants to make ends meet, and state appropriations in the last few years for capital projects.

In the past, there have been discussions about giving the Legislature more control over the railroad’s budget through the Executive Budget Act, which the railroad has always strenuously opposed on grounds that they weren’t asking for or needed state appropriations

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Miller to Begich over delay in healthcare mandate: Welcome to ‘knucklehead’ club

Obamacare U.S. Sen. Mark Begich announced a change of heart about the healthcare law Thursday. In a statement, he said that given the problems with the federal exchange, he now supports extending the deadline to sign up for healthcare delaying the individual mandate until the public can actually use the website intended to be a portal for the insurance.

“I have repeatedly said this law is not perfect and have proposed changes to make it work for Alaska families and small businesses,” he said in a written statement. “Given the recent website issues, I also support extending open enrollment season. I want to work with the administration to ensure that individuals are not unfairly penalized if technical issues with the website continue.”

Begich is among a handful of moderate Democrats in “red states” who called for the delay. Most of them are up for reelection in 2014 and their seats are considered vulnerable.

The online exchanges, or marketplaces, are part of the new healthcare law and were intended to be the place where consumers, who didn’t have it as part of their employment, could buy affordable insurance. The law requires most Americans to have coverage by Jan. 1 or face a fine.

But as the senators pointed out, it’s absurd to fine people who don’t purchase something that they can’t purchase because they can’t for technical reasons. The White House hasn’t ruled out a delay.

Joe Miller, a Republican who hopes to take Begich’s seat, used the opportunity to take a shot at Begich.  In a release, Miller questioned if Begich was turning into one of the “knuckleheads” Begich has been criticizing in radio ads.

“Senator Begich called those who offered this compromise ‘a small band of knuckleheads’ who are ‘holding the country hostage over the health care law,’” Miller wrote.  “I am happy to learn that Senator Begich has taken off his rose-colored glasses long enough to see one of the glaring flaws of Obamacare. Interestingly enough, the senator promised the people of Alaska that the healthcare exchange would function like buying airline tickets on Expedia. Well, let’s just say that was a little overly optimistic.”

Indeed, only a handful of Alaskans, at most, have been able to sign up for the health care exchange, which is widely considered a disaster.

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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.

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Quote of the day: A 16-year-old girl speaks out about sexual abuse

“I have been molested countless times by old men, young men and boys my age. I’ve been almost raped once and that’s enough to make me stand up here in front of you all here today to stop all of this… I don’t mean to disrespect you elders out there, but there’s elders out there in our communities doing this. You don’t turn 60 or 65 and automatically get respect. You have to earn it.”

A 16-year-old girl speaking at the First Alaskans Institute’s Elders and Youth conference in Fairbanks.


Why should the state help Alaskans get health insurance?

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that the private company, Enroll Alaska, involved in helping people register for ObamaCare, has only enrolled three people so far because of the failure of the federal marketplace exchange. It had hoped to enroll as many as 2,000 by this point.

When asked at a legislative hearing if the state had plans to take care of “our own,” by creating its own marketplace, Bret Kolb, the director of the Alaska Division of Insurance said it was unlikely.

“We’re trying to figure out what our motivation would be,” he said.

Good question: Would could possibly be the motivation for the state and its workers, including the governor, to help the public get health insurance, when they get such good publicly funded health insurance themselves?

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