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.”
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