Loose Lips: The screaming, ballsy, Republican Party picnic edition

18955141_mAll in all, the Alaska Republican Party picnic on Tuesday night was probably the most benign picnic I’ve been to, and I’ve been making a point of going for about seven years, because you never know what can happen. The most dramatic one was in 2006, when Republican Party lawyer Bill Large got whacked with a Sarah Palin “Take a Stand” sign. The whacker was a 70-plus year old Sarah Palin supporter. Large left the state shortly thereafter.

But that was then, and this is now. And if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought that the dozens of candidates, staffers, and political operatives actually liked each other.

It was all mostly mellow, except when young libertarian leaning Jeff Landfield and the outspoken head of the Anchorage Women’s Republican Club Judy Eledge began to argue heatedly over immigration. The gist: Landfield just can’t understand how she, a pro-life, save-the-children Christian, can want the country to turn its back on the children who are showing up on the border. Eledge sees a conspiracy afoot. “Tell me how all of those orphans (which you have no proof are orphans) walked all the way by themselves from South America,” she wrote in a Facebook post later about the incident. She also warned in the post that I was looking for something exciting to write about. “Judy would not let her go away disappointed,” she wrote.  Let me be clear: Judy Eledge does a lot of things, including referring to herself in third person, but she never disappoints. Nor does she argue. She yells instead. Some might even describe it as screaming.

There’s always a little tension when Joe Miller is in the same room with Randy Ruedrich and Frank McQueary. But Miller and his peeps were friendly and gracious to everyone, even to me. Joe’s wife, Kathleen even told me a story about how they met. She was a single mom in her early 20s with two small children and two dogs living in Kansas. He had just gotten home from Iraq. She was going to move to her mother’s house in Arizona to finish college, and could only take one of the dogs. Joe called the number on the ad, and even though the Golden Retriever had just been hit by a car and had a broken leg, he fell in love with the dog, and soon, with Kathleen and her two small kids. I recently told APRN that for Joe to reinvent himself, he needed a “personality transplant.” If I could redo that interview now, I would say that what he needs to do is to put Kathleen in front of every camera in the state to tell that story.

Speaking of Randy Ruedrich: I didn’t see anybody, not even Eledge, yell at him at the picnic, which must have been nice for a change. In fact, it can’t be all bad to be him right now: he’s still acting as head of the party, but has none of the real responsibilities. (Sarah Palin can likely relate.)

Peter Goldberg, the actual head of the party, was conspicuously absent. I would be lying if I said that he left a void. People were like, “Who?” when I mentioned him.

Gov. Sean Parnell came and left early. It’s odd to see a governor dress down, picnic style. It’s so odd, in fact, that people seemed to just walk by without recognizing him, which he seemed fine with. You can say a lot about Parnell, but you can’t say that he has that annoying, need-to-be noticed gene that nearly all other politicians and political wannabes in the room have. And likewise, when people talk to him, he really listens. Others should take note.

Rep. Lynn Gattis, for one, appeared to be having a ball. Some of you might have heard that a recent quote regarding her opponent’s scrotum that was published in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman turned into a cause celebre. Her opponent, Verne Rupright, is one of the trio of men running as independents against Republican incumbents. Rupright didn’t show last night, but the other two—Roger Purcell and Steve Jacobson, did. “They have some balls to snub the party and then show up and eat the food,” Gattis said, repeatedly. Then again, Purcell is known for taking things that he doesn’t have a right to have. Some will remember that when he was mayor of Houston, he took a police car on a nice ride to Fairbanks. That’s truly ballsy.

Best political give-away at the picnic was Rep. Don Young’s chocolate bars made by a Sitka chocolate company, one of which I snagged, ethics be damned. Behold:

Don Young candy bar

Westside House candidate Anand Dubey appeared to have the most people wearing his stickers.

The biggest sign award went to Brad Snowden, the fringe Republican candidate from Seward who wears a big plastic frog around his neck and is staying in a hostel and who doesn’t mind getting from one place to the other by hitchhiking, which I have written about before, and which he apparently read. “You didn’t mention my energy plan,” he said. And then he began to talk to me about this energy plan…

snowden I’m told that both Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan worked the room but kept their distance from each other. I didn’t see this, however, because Brad Snowden was trying to talk to me about his energy plan.

The weather was nice, and Rep. Dan Saddler’s band played all the right folksy, country songs.

The best sponsorship of the night went to the petting zoo, which was sponsored by “No on 1.”

Some of the other sponsorships included:

  • Ice cream by Don Young.
  • Pony rides by Gov. Sean Parnell.
  • The bouncy house by Mead Treadwell.
  • A photo booth by Dan Sullivan.

Most useful peace of information gleaned:  House Speaker Mike Chenault is going for another term as speaker.

Most intriguing conversation that I wish I could have overhead: Mayoral candidate Dan Coffey huddled with Commissioner of Administration Curtis Thayer.

Watch for a regular version of Loose Lips coming on Thursday. It’ll be a good one.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


14 thoughts on “Loose Lips: The screaming, ballsy, Republican Party picnic edition

  1. GirlGoneRogue

    Not going to lie, Snowden talking about his energy plan sounds far more interesting than Landfield rambling on about the centaur painting (in his likeness, no less) he had “commissioned” for his house. But far more important than either of these riveting conversationalists: Can you report on the picnic’s cookie selection? In past years, the GOP ladies have provided some truly delicious creations, made even better when topped with Tastee Freeze. (When faced with a sober political function, one quickly learns to improvise.)

  2. north to alaska

    Did anyone notice that Jeff Landfield posted this article on his Facebook as a point of pride? Does he not know that this embarrasses both him and The Pitbull? (Move over, Sarah.)

  3. Arctic Urbanophile

    I so agree. If someone read the ADN, they would have no idea state elections other than the US Senate race were going on. Also, the format is truly terrible and not user friendly.

  4. Sharon G.

    I agree with the Arctic Urbanophile. Frankly speaking, the new paper is increasingly becoming a disappointment. Its difficult to understand how the paper is deteriorating given that both merged papers had a fair share of decent reporters. Consequently, I suspect its either inept and incompetent editors or misguided ownership. Having met Ms. Rogoff, I suspect its the former instead of the later.
    Thank goodness this blog exists because the paper is doing a miserable job of covering politics. Seems the paper has become a rural paper based in the state’s largest town. What a waste. Also, why would you brand down instead of brand up? Ego or stupidity?

  5. Anonymous

    Good piece Amanda. I noticed no mention of John Cox whom I met at the gas pump recently. He had a huge sign in the back of his truck “John Cox for Congress” it said. Or something like that, and he had a holstered handgun on one shoulder, and lots of ammo on the other. “Do you always carry?” I asked. “Always,” he said, telling me how gun deaths are much more common in jurisdictions with strict gun laws. (Not true). Pleasant guy, though prone to the verbal effusion so common among long long long shot candidates.

    And about Joe Miller, I hate it when people I enjoy disliking turn out not to be dislikable.

  6. Arctic Urbanophile


    Can you comment on why loose lips was not included in the new ADN? To my knowledge they aren’t bringing back the Ear, so does this mean they won’t have a political commentary section? It would be nice to see them incorporate some of your quality journalism instead of the incoherent ramblings of Medred.

  7. Ben Rowell

    Ruedrich was working hard to make sure everyone, no matter which candidate’s pin you were wearing, was well fed and enjoying the the picnic. Thanks for your efforts, Randy!

  8. Anonymous

    I love the story about Joe Miller and his wife. You’re right. She should tell that story in front of every camera in the state. I found both Kathleen and Joe to be very warm and attentive. Good reporting and hilarious writing. Thanks for the laughs.

  9. Tom M.

    What were two asses (Landfield and Eledge) doing at the Republican picnic? Okay, maybe it wasn’t all that funny. But, it sure made me chuckle.

  10. Jennifer

    I had a great time at the picnic and even more fun reading your article. I missed the DY Candy Bars!
    Lynn Gattis is my favorite legiislator too!

  11. Gerry

    Why waste your time, or ours writing about Grad Snowden? Wasn’t there someting more relevant that you could have written about like the gnats at the picnic? You have a wonderful blog that I ggreatly enjoy reading. I think people like Brad Snowden jus disgrace the process and turn people further away.

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