You think Sen. Mark Begich has a lousy record to run on now, wait until the fall season rolls around and with it a major hike in health insurance rates in Alaska. The Heritage foundation estimates health insurance rates will shoot up 13 percent in Alaska once the state finalizes its rate. Other states will see even higher increases with estimates showing rates going up almost 25 percent. According to politico.com, so far no state has finalized its rate, but 21 have posted bids for 2015. You guessed it, premiums went up in all 21 states.
Big news from the Washington Post:
The Environmental Protection Agency will issue a proposal Friday under the Clean Water Act that would limit mining activity in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, according to two individuals familiar with the decision. The proposed determination, which will now be subject to a public comment period, represents the latest step by the Obama administration to impose restrictions on a massive gold and copper mining project, called Pebble Mine…Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has repeatedly warned EPA not to issue a “preemptive veto” against Pebble Mine, though Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and other Democratic senators from the Pacific Northwest such as Maria Cantwell (Wash.) have argued it poses too great a risk to the wild fishery.
I’ve been traveling today–hence the few posts–so I haven’t been able to listen to any of recordings of the GOP debate in Homer last Tuesday night, nor have I had much chance to talk to people who were there. But a few press releases from the candidates and from the Democratic party gave me of flavor: Mead Treadwell tried to out conservative Joe Miller, and Dan Sullivan, with an eye on the general election, tried to save something for the middle and for the Independents, votes that will determine if Mark Begich gets sent back to D.C. this winter.
Treadwell went so far as to spend his closing comments on parroting Begich’s attacks on Miller and Sullivan, and he sent out a release Continue reading
As she’s done in the past, particularly on social issues, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski bucked her party and voted to advance a bill that would have reversed a recent Supreme Court ruling that allows closely held corporations to decline to provide employees insurance coverage for some forms of birth control based on religious objections. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich. As expected, it failed.
In addition to Murkowski, two other Republican senators voted to advance it: Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Susan Collins of Maine, both of whom, like Murkowski, are known for being moderate Republicans.
Murkowski’s vote is consistent with what she said in 2012 after she supported a measure called the Blunt amendment that would have done through Congress what the Supreme Court eventually did. Continue reading
U. S Rep. Don Young reported raising $131,258 in the 2nd quarter of this year, which runs from April until the end of June. He spent $236,784, leaving him with $589,812 cash on hand. His challenger, Democrat Forrest Dunbar, raised $36,500 during the same time period and has $30,603 cash on hand.
Dunbar, a first-time candidate, mined the numbers for some good news. Most of his money has come from 303 individual donors, and about 90 percent of it from Alaska donors, his campaign said. In contrast, Dunbar says that only about 20 percent of Young’s money has come from Alaskans and that “the vast majority” has come from lobbyists and federally-registered PACs.
It’s not surprising that Young would out raise Dunbar. What might be surprising about the numbers Continue reading
I’m waiting to get some audio from the GOP Senate debate on Wednesday night in Homer. Until then, here’s some tweets from Mead Treadwell, who I heard spent a lot of time trying to out-conservative Joe Miller. Among other things, Treadwell called for the elimination of the ‘fraudulent” IRS and of the income tax, vowed not to support an immigration bill while Obama is in office, and supported congressional term limits, a position that probably doesn’t sit well with Rep. Don Young, who is the longest serving Republican in the House, and would likely have the late Ted Stevens shaking his fist. As Treadwell repeatedly reminds us, he has been in Alaska for 40 years, and until he ran for lieutenant governor in 2010, his reputation was one of a moderate, wonkish Republican who seemed most interested in international organizations and treaties. Now, he’s a pro-life, “stand with Ted Cruz and Mike Lee” conservative firebrand.
— Treadwell for Senate (@Mead_Treadwell) July 16, 2014
Yes, I support term limits & session limits. Cong. should get its work done..then spend time in state. Pass a Bal. Budget! #HomerGOPDebate
— Treadwell for Senate (@Mead_Treadwell) July 16, 2014
GOP Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell continued the attack against fellow Republican candidate Dan Sullivan over Sullivan’s support on ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation. Sullivan has said that he supported the legislation, and helped pass it while he was the state’s attorney general. Treadwell, and the other candidate in the campaign, Joe Miller, as well as Sen. Mark Begich’s allies, and one political fact-checking organization, have all questioned Sullivan’s support for ‘Stand Your Ground.’
Treadwell, who said it was important to be honest, went so far as to issue a challenge: “Produce one piece of credible, time-stamped evidence that proves you fought to pass Stand your Ground during your tenure as Attorney General, and I’ll put up one of your campaign signs in my yard,” Treadwell wrote in a release on Wednesday.
Sullivan’s campaign spokesman Mike Anderson fired back: Continue reading
Here’s the latest ad from U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, which this time features Iraq War Veteran, Master Sgt. Troy Bouffard, who credits Begich in the ad for pushing the administration to help save 3,000 jobs in Alaska by keeping the F-16 fighter jets at Eielson Air Force Base. As a member of Senate Armed Services Committee, Begich held up the nomination for the promotion of Lt. Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle to four-stars and taking command of Pacific Air Forces until he got a commitment to keep the F-16s in Fairbanks.
About 50 people chanted, waved signs and rang bells –one even rode a unicycle–to greet a group of men who showed up to bid on three properties in the Government Hill neighborhood in order to make room for a bridge that would span the Knik Arm. The Department of Transportation put out a bid to buy the properties in order to demolish them. It is spending anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million to get the job done. That’s on top of the roughly $2.5 million the state paid to acquire the properties. About seven men showed to walk through them. They were media shy and wouldn’t answer questions, particularly with the crowd of protesters across the street, imploring them to go away.
The bridge, if it gets built at all, is years away from being complete. It has yet to get necessary federal loans–loans that the state has applied for repeatedly and has been turned down for repeatedly. And even if it gets the loans, it still needs a host of permits, including from the Corp of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Continue reading
GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan released his fundraising numbers on Tuesday for the second quarter of the year, which runs from April to June 30. During that time, he raised $1.2 million, bringing his total haul in the election cycle to $3.8 million. It’s the third straight fundraising quarter that Sullivan has raised over a million dollars. Official FEC reports aren’t due until July 15.
No word yet on what Joe Miller and Mead Treadwell, the other Republicans running in the primary, have raised, though it likely won’t be nearly as large of a number. Begich released his numbers last week, saying that he raised $1.25 million in the quarter. He also touted in a release that he had 700 new Alaska donors. It was the first time since Sullivan has entered the race that Begich raised more than Sullivan, albeit only by $50,000.
Sullivan’s campaign said that 1,000 Alaskans have donated since he announced in October, and that in the current quarter, Sullivan raised more than $195,000 in Alaska, with over 400 new Alaskan donations.
On Monday independent governor Bill Walker was on the Dan Fagan/Glen Biegel show, where he talked about his support for repealing SB 21. Fagan, who can be relentless, drilled down on Walker’s support for repeal. Fagan focused on the fact that since the current tax structure has been in place, oil production has ceased to decline. Last December, the state estimated a 4.4 percent decline for this year. That didn’t happen. For fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30, oil production averaged 530,939 barrels per day, roughly the same amount of oil produced as the year before. Production decline averaged about 5 percent between 2008 to 2011, and slipped 8 percent between 2012 and 2013. Until this year, the last year the state didn’t see a decline in production was in 2001. Those who advocate for repeal say that the flattening is the result of geophysics, not taxes,. Some of them say that the oil companies are increasing production temporarily to make it seem as the new regime is working. Walker, who is usually not at a loss for words, stumbled his way through the interview and only alluded to the latter. Listen to the clip here.
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign sent out a release on Monday questioning GOP Senate candidate and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s commitment to privacy. The release pointed to a company that Treadwell helped form in 1995 called Digimarc, which has provided the potential technology for REAL ID, “an invasive national ID program widely unpopular with Alaskans of all political leanings,” the release said.
“Almost everyday Mead Treadwell tells Alaskans the government ‘snoops too much’ while concealing his history of profiting from a national ID card scheme Alaskans roundly rejected as an invasion of privacy,” Susanne Fleek-Green, Begich’s campaign manager, said. Continue reading
According to federal disclosures, Put Alaska First, the pro-Begich super-PAC, raised $3,647,539 between April 1st and June 30. Only $90,000 came from donors other than the Senate Majority PAC, which is run by former aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Well known Democratic donor and real-
Here’s MSNBC’s Morning Joe having some fun with Sen. Mark Begich’s strategy to distance himself from President Obama, highlighted in a not completely flattering Washington Post article:
From the Washington Post piece:
Begich, 52, is a first-term senator known for being pro-gun and pro-oil. But he is not actually that well known for anything. In the Senate, Begich is a junior figure, moving through the chamber’s power structure at the speed of a mastodon trapped in a glacier. Over five years, just one of his bills has been passed into law. It renamed a courthouse in Anchorage…. But now, thanks to the midterm elections, Begich is temporarily one of the most important politicians in the country. Continue reading
David Mayberry has been appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. He is a lawyer who has represented lots of oil and gas companies for Crowell & Moring, LLP. He’ll have to be confirmed next session.
I wrote earlier about a whisper campaign claiming that GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan has lots of “dirt” on him that will come out if he wins the GOP nomination. Those of us who have seen the oppo file have rolled our eyes. Talk show host Bernadette Wilson, who supports Mead Treadwell, isn’t backing down. “I’m still taking bets theres info laying around on Sullivan if there’s any takers :),” she wrote in an email to a group of “dear friends” which was then passed on to me.
Jim Lottsfeldt, an Anchorage-based lobbyist and the head of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s super-PAC, had a fundraiser on Thursday for Forrest Dunbar, the young and inspiring Democrat who’s challenging Rep. Don Young. Continue reading