Tag Archives: lesil mcguire

McGuire drops out of lt. gov race

Citing family pulls, Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire announced that she has dropped her bid to run for lieutenant governor in the GOP primary. McGuire will continue her job as senator, and will likely continue to be in a leadership position. Here’s her statement in full:

It is with a year’s worth of thought, contemplation and visiting with Alaskans across our great state that I’ve arrived at the decision it is more effective for me to remain as a policymaker and continue serving Alaskans in that capacity.

I’m particularly anxious to have all of my family together, after 14 years of service, and always putting them behind my public servancy. My husband, children and parents are the most important part of my life. Today, I put them first.

My eight year old son Grayson said it best to me, several weeks ago at a moment when I couldn’t pay attention to him because of the time-consuming campaign, when he asked “Mommy, you’re always busy and working! Would you just be the Lt. Governor of our home?”

It’s been an honor serving my constituency in South Anchorage for the last 14 years. As Rules Chairman, and a member of Senate leadership, I’ll be cognizant of and responsive to the input and opinions received from the thousands of people I have met and listened to across our state.

I love Alaska and it’s been my home all of my life. I look forward to a productive legislative session in 2015 and working with the candidate who wins the seat and becomes our next Lt. Governor.

God bless all Alaskans.


So many reasons for McGuire?

Here’s a web ad from Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire, who’s running for lieutenant governor.

The singer is Sarah Page, a South Anchorage McGuire constituent. It’s cute, and catchy, except the music and the visuals are nearly identical to this other video about how many ways there are to die. This is how this one starts:

Set fire to your hair

Poke a stick at a grizzly bear

Eat medicine that’s out of date

Use your private parts as piranha bait

We’ll see where this one goes.


More on Alaska’s lieutenant governor forum

Last night I wrote about Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s comments about union membership and slavery at the lieutenant governor’s forum on Monday sponsored by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Below are a few more tidbits from the forum, which featured Democrats Alaska state Sen. Hollis French and Wasilla teacher Bob Williams on one side, and Republicans Sullivan and state Sen. Lesil McGuire on the other.

    • Despite public opinion polls that show broad public support, all four candidates said they were against legalizing marijuana.
    • French, Williams and McGuire oppose right-to-work legislation. Sullivan adamantly supports it.
    • The two Dems, as expected, are for repealing the oil tax legislation passed in 2013. Both Republicans were against repeal.
    • On prioritizing the three big projects: both McGuire and Sullivan put the large natural gasline first, the Knik Arm Bridge second and the Susitna dam last. French put the Susitna dam first, a bullet line second, and the Knik Arm Bridge last.

Best lines of the event:

  • From Bob Williams about the Anchorage Legislative Offices building:  “Never before have we seen such a disconnect between our values and our actions… When we’re talking about a legislative palace…spending $1 million for furniture, $100,000 to design a furniture theme. My dad was a logger: We can do a furniture theme for 10 bucks. But when it comes to education, we say we don’t have the money…”
  • From Mayor Dan about where he sees the state in five years:  “Lesil McGuire is back in the state Senate where she sponsors the Sullivan Teacher Initiative…President Rand Paul opens ANWR, armed with a Republican House and a Republican Senate….The Knik Arm Bridge is being built.” And the natural gas pipeline is under construction.
  • From Sen. Hollis French on where he sees the state in five years unless there’s a change in leadership: “In five years, there will be three or four half-built projects when we run out of savings.”
  • From Sen. Lesil McGuire on right-to-work legislation and the tension between Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and the unions: “What we’ve seen at the local level — what’s happened — it’s been somewhat of a disaster here in Anchorage. When you go so far and start pushing almost a war, if you will, against the working men and women in this state.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Alaska Republican candidates make questionable remarks related to race

Republican candidates have made questionable remarks related to race at two different candidate forums in the last few days, including comparing union membership to slavery.

The first one was after a GOP Senate forum on Saturday, when candidate Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell used the widely disavowed Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy as a symbol for government overreach. He told Anchorage Daily News reporter Nat Hertz that although Bundy was problematic, he was “like Joe the Plumber.”

For a short time, Bundy was a hero among those who have fought against such overreach. When the federal government tried to make him pay for the 20 years that his cattle had been grazing on federal land, his supporters rode in on horses and brought guns. Fox News loved him. Right wing radio sang his praises. Then he began talking about his world view, including of race, and people didn’t love him much anymore. This is where he got “problematic.”

This is a truncated version of what he told a New York Times reporter about “the Negro:”

And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.

Hertz asked Treadwell about Bundy because of an allusion that Treadwell made about him in a speech at the forum. The racist comments got bigger headlines than Bundy’s original war against the feds. However, Treadwell, who had been following the story, told the ADN reporter that he wasn’t aware of the racist comments. “I don’t know what he said about race issues, and I don’t support that,” he told Hertz.

In a follow-up interview, Treadwell again said that he didn’t know about Bundy’s comments about race before referring to him, and that he didn’t support the rancher, but that he was nonetheless a symbol of a “sage brush rebellion” that’s brewing in the country over federal control of lands. If he were elected to the Senate, Treadwell said, wresting that control from the feds and putting it back into the hands of the state would be one of his top priorities.

Then, on Monday at a lieutenant governor’s forum, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan compared being in a union to slavery.

In response to an audience question about right-to-work legislation, Sullivan said that he adamantly supported it. “We ended slavery a long time ago,” he said.

In an interview after the debate, Sullivan clarified his remarks. He said that when someone has to pay to get a job, referring to union dues, it’s “economic slavery.”

Right-to-work laws vary in the 24 states that have such laws, but they generally mean that employees can’t be required to join a labor union and pay dues to get a job that has been negotiated through labor agreements.

None of the three other candidates in the forum—Republican state Sen. Lesil McGuire, Democratic state Sen. Hollis French, and Wasilla teacher Bob Williams—support the legislation.

In the past few years, conservatives have likened slavery from everything to affirmative action, to abortion to social security. And they often get reminded that it’s an offensive comparison. Most recently Sarah Palin made headlines for comparing the national debt to slavery.

In any case, the comment indicates that Sullivan plans to take his battle with the unions with him on his statewide campaign. Anchorage-based Republican consultant Marc Hellenthal said that it’s a battle that will likely help him in the Republican primary, but could hurt him and Gov. Sean Parnell in the general.

As the Alaska Democratic Party pointed out in a press release, Alaska has the second-highest rate of union participation in the country.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


State suspends grant money that includes funding for tennis courts

Scott Ruby, a director at the Department of Commerce, sent a letter to Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan telling him that disbursements for the $37 million grant which includes funding for Anchorage tennis courts has been suspended pending “resolution” of issues surrounding the grant: namely the use of the grant money to build new tennis courts.

Ruby wrote that the department is “taking this action in response to a legal concern raised by the Legislature’s Legal Services Division.” Ruby said that the action was “unfortunate,” and he hoped for a speedy resolution.

Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire alerted the division to the legal services opinion in a letter she wrote to the department and to Gov. Sean Parnell.

Last year lawmakers added the funding for the courts to a larger package in the state capital budget earmarked, “Project 80s Deferred and Critical Maintenance.” The money was originally intended to support renovations to aging facilities like the Dempsey-Anderson Arena, Sullivan Arena and the Ben Boeke Ice Arena.

Sullivan and Rep. Lindsey Holmes pushed for the tennis court money to be part of the appropriation, a push that has since captured the public’s attention and has turned into a symbol of murky government process.

Hilary Martin, the legislative lawyer Ruby is referring to, wrote on April 2 that the law says that a condition of a grant is that the grantee will “spend the grant for the purposes specified in the appropriation or allocation.” New tennis courts “would not likely fit with the purpose of the appropriation,” Martin wrote. Nor would they fit the definition of deferred and critical maintenance of buildings built in the 1980s, she said.

McGuire is running against Sullivan in the lieutenant governor’s race. She recently asked the Senate Finance Committee to re-appropriate the tennis court money and put it into the library instead.

The Committee voted against doing do.

McGuire denies that she’s pushing the issue for her campaign, and welcomes a rewrite of the grant to fit the stated purposes. One of her main goals, she said, is for the public to be aware of the fact that the Legislature didn’t authorize tennis courts when they allocated the money.

“This is precedent setting,” McGuire said. “When you’re asking for public money, you should be clear what you’re asking for.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Mayor Dan defends tennis court appropriation

Give Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan credit for responding to stories about his administration. Below is his response to the Friday story on this site about Sen. Lesil McGuire’s attempt to re-appropriate money slated for Anchorage tennis courts:

The indoor public courts were requested by the Alaska Tennis Association so that all kids could have an opportunity to play the lifetime sport of tennis without having to be rich enough to afford the Alaska Club. All the high schools will use the facility for their regular season and regional tournament, as well as teams from around the state for the state competitions. The need became essential with the pending sale of the Alaska Club North, which has 5 of the 9 private indoor courts in town.

The first location considered was in south Anchorage (in Lesil’s district) but because of poor soils the current site was proposed. It does not matter to me where the location is, because I will continue to be a member of the Alaska Club, as I have been for nearly thirty years, because there is a wider variety of exercise options and amenities.

As for investing in our public facilities before building new ones, my administration has invested over $650 million in our parks, trails, public facilities, etc., over the past five years, the largest amount ever invested in our public infrastructure in Anchorage history.


McGuire requests Senate Finance re-appropriate tennis-court money

In a rather gutsy move, Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire has officially entered into the controversial tennis court debate by requesting that the Senate Finance Committee, which drafts the capital budget, re-appropriate the $7 million dollars to be used for courts. She wants that money to go to the Anchorage Loussac Library instead.

The tennis court project has been pushed by Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan. Both he and McGuire are running to be the GOP nominees for lieutenant governor. It’s unclear who, or if, any of the senators on the committee will offer the amendment. Protocol would dictate that either Anchorage Sens. Hollis French, Anna Fairclough, or Kevin Meyer do so.

One thing is clear: it puts the project back into the public glare. Also, McGuire is chair of the Senate Rules Committee, which wields a tremendous amount of power.

The tennis issue has “drawn a great deal of criticism, divided the Anchorage Assembly and served to drive a wedge into our community,” McGuire wrote in a memo to the committee. She also blamed the controversy on failure of the public to vote on an April 1 library improvement bond measure.

The $7 million is part of a $37 million appropriation that was intended to be used on “critical and deferred maintenance” on buildings built in the 1980s. Sullivan has pushed to have the $7 million go to a new tennis court, to be built in the Turnagain neighborhood, where he lives.

McGuire said that the money is “necessary to protect the State’s original investment in this facility.”

Read the full memo here.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Fundraising numbers for statewide candidates dribbling in

Because it’s a holiday, official financial fundraising reports for candidates aren’t due to the Alaska Public Offices Commission until Tuesday. However, as of Monday afternoon, some numbers were dribbling in.

Alaska state Sen. Hollis French, who’s running for lieutenant governor and has already filed with APOC, reported raising $51,328 from Oct. 30, 2014 through Feb. 1, 2014. French brought $22,605 into the campaign, and spent $12,233, leaving him $61,700 cash on hand.

French’s fundraising total isn’t likely going to match the GOP lieutenant governor candidates. Both Sen. Lesil McGuire and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan have said that they raised in the ballpark of $100,000 apiece. However, $61,700 on hand is a pretty good number for French.

As reported earlier, Gov. Sean Parnell raised $407,253, and had over $330,000 on hand.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott beat expectations by raising more than $230,000. However, he hasn’t filed his report yet and it’s unclear how much money he spent raising that amount.

Finally, independent candidate for governor Bill Walker hasn’t released his official report, but he did send out a release on Monday saying that he raised more than $200,000, also beating expectations. According to the release, that number includes $29,000 of his own money.

Walker said that unlike Parnell, he has to pay for his own travel.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


McGuire airing first radio ad in lieutenant governor’s race

Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire is airing her first radio ad—a $5000 buy—in her quest to be lieutenant governor. McGuire is running against Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan in the Republican primary, who, to my knowledge, has not yet begun running ads. While Sullivan will likely go after the more conservative primary voter, McGuire is positioning herself as a listener, a “visionary” and a “consensus builder,” one who would appeal to audiences tired of leaders displaying “too much arrogance and disregard for what matters.” Click on the hyperlink to listen to the spot.  


Weekly roundup: Aloha moderate malarkey flu

aloha It’s still very early in the election season. The sun is still low and coy, objects hidden under the snow haven’t even begun to think of stirring, and most Alaskans haven’t even begun to think about who they’re going to vote for in the upcoming elections.

It feels a lot like Joe Miller time.

I know that many of you common-sense conservatives have written Miller off. But common-sense conservatives have never been accused of being commonly sensitive enough to feel the fury of that small group of primary voters, the ones that Sarah Palin awoke from their long slumber and the ones that are now gathering during these long winter nights to plan for a Miller win, much like they did in the early days of 2010.

Word is that the meetings are happening with increasing frequency, particularly in the Mat-Su Valley, where there’s something in the water which makes everyone feel dispossessed. The meetings are revivalesque, I’m told. In other words: those people vote.

In the meantime, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell , who also tries really hard to act like he’s dispossessed, is plugging along, sending out press releases accusing Begich of being soft on energy and not “enthusiastically” supporting Murkowski’s bid to end exports on oil. I say be careful of what you wish for. Any more enthusiasm from Begich and he’ll be knocking at your door, using that soon-to-be-grating,  folksy voice to try and convince you that he’s as “independent as Alaska.”

And he’ll keep going until you agree.

Speaking of Begich. How’s this for his new moniker, a la Art Hackney: “Malarkey Mark.” And isn’t it interesting that the national Republicans are bashing him giving a speech in Hawaii rather than being in D.C., voting to extend unemployment benefits? Maybe they’ve been employed for so long that those same Republicans forgot they don’t like the bill?

Besides, in addition to attending fundraisers and giving a speech, Begich likely spent the rest of his waking hours in Hawaii convincing Alaskans that he’s as independent as they are. Indeed, you can’t throw a stone this time of year in Hawaii without hitting an Alaskan. Former Mayor Tom Fink is reportedly there, giving lectures to anyone who will listen on laissez faire economics and school choice. Rep. Les Gara is riding a girl’s 10 speed bike around Oahu. It was the affordable one available, he said.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

Speaking of throwing stones, neither of the two Republican candidates running for lieutenant governor showed at the first state-wide candidate forum in Anchorage on Tuesday night. Mayor Dan Sullivan had other plans, so he declined immediately. Sen. Lesil McGuire called in sick right before it started. Malarkey? Who can blame her? I’d be sick too if I were a moderate Republican in that crowd, in this state, where to win statewide office, you have to get at least a handful of those Valley folks to cast their vote for you. Maybe the remedy is in the Valley water.

Anyway, because no Republican showed, the show was left to Democrats Sen. Hollis French and Palmer teacher Bob Williams, and independent Craig Fleener. As expected, Gov. Sean Parnell took a beating.

Sen. Hollis French, as usual, was like, “au contraire Parnell!” He was like, “Oil companies j’en peux plus!”

I don’t know Craig Fleener well enough to poke fun at him. He seems really nice, smart. Besides, he’s a former Marine.

But the line of the night belonged to Bob Williams.

Bob Williams? I hadn’t heard of him either, and yet he has blue eyes and even comes with props! On Tuesday night, there was a red cup, yellow cup and green cup, and some sort of piece of cloth all of which represented something important enough to warrant them. I can’t remember what it was, however. (My dog ate my notes, and then I suddenly came down with the moderate malarkey Republican flu.)

What I do remember, perhaps the only thing I remember, is when Blue Eyes called Parnell a wimp.

That got the requisite, snide, liberal chuckle. But Williams wasn’t done. Because it’s so uncool in school to call anybody a name, he went on to explain what he meant was that Parnell is “Wildly Inaccurate, Misleading, and Partisan.” It doesn’t quite work as an acrostic, but nobody, least of all Parnell, is going to challenge him.

What else is going on out there? Mayor Dan hired his buddy, high school friend and chief-of-staff Dan Kendall to run ML&P. His qualifications for running one of the state’s largest electrical utilities? For 30 years he was a corrosion technician for ENSTAR. For 30 years, he did nothing but drive around in his truck, getting a big union paycheck to check for cronyism. Oops! I mean corrosion.

Whispers of Eagle River Rep. Lora Reinbold, and Valley Rep. Wes Keller organizing what’s being called a “conservative caucus” in the House to push out the moderates. Because, you know, Alaska’s Republican dominated House is so full of moderates. Must be something in the water.

And there’s lots of talk about the good bureaucrats at Revenue and DNR, who could probably use a chug or two of Valley water, trying to untangle the state from the very last vestige of the Palin regime. Next session, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, or AGIA, will be likely be a goner, taking its hundreds of millions with it, and one of the countless big dreams of a big natural gasline. Aloha AGIA.

As William’s might put it: “Alaska Gets It in the….Abdomen again.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Glitches in Alaska’s DHSS computer system delay Medicaid payments

Gov. Sean Parnell has certainly had his complaints about ObamaCare, some of them—the disastrous rollout and the problem with the federal exchange website, to name a couple—are nearly universal. He has called it a “boondoggle,” and has used those issues, in part, to justify why he declined federal funds to expand the Medicaid program, the health care program partially funded by the federal government and administered by the state.

However, it appears that while Parnell was criticizing the program, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has been experiencing its own share of computer-related issues with a new system that processes Medicaid payments. In some cases, those glitches have resulted in months-long delays in Medicaid payments to doctors and other medical providers.

In a letter published in the Anchorage Daily News, a long-time Anchorage-based psychiatrist, Aron Wolf, took issue with Parnell for not accepting funds to expand Medicaid and for criticizing the problems with the federal exchange while the state is having very similar problems.

“Gov. Parnell should get his own act together and make payments for services rendered to these needy Alaskans,” he wrote.

DHSS spokeswoman Sarana Schell said that the department is updating its old payment processing system for the first time since 1987, and that with any technology project of this size, “there are bumps in the road.”

The department, Schell said, is working to fix the problems. “We’re not quite halfway through the glitches we’ve identified – about 730 down, 900 to go,” Schell said. “We are, of course, prioritizing as we go, addressing the problems that affect the most providers first.”

Schell said that DHSS processes roughly 100,000 claims a week, and expects to reimburse medical providers about $25 million a week. However, it’s currently only reimbursing about $20 million a week.

In other words, there are still about $5 million of claims each week that aren’t getting paid by DHSS.

Wolf, the psychiatrist who wrote the letter to the ADN, has a private practice. About 12 percent of his patients are Medicaid recipients. He also consults with nonprofits that are more reliant on Medicaid, all of which have had problems with billing.

“These are nonprofits with very limited budgets,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “This is causing real problems for some of them.”

DHSS is urging providers to call if they are having a problem, and assuring them that the state will make sure they are paid. It takes about two days from the time of reporting to receive a check. It also said that the department is holding regular webcasts to educate providers.

According to providers, the checks that DHSS are cutting are based on historic payments and general good faith. They say that the state is considering it an “advance.” Many providers, according to Wolf, don’t know that this is an option. Others don’t trust such a payment from the state.

Senate Rules Committee Chair Lesil McGuire, who is running for lieutenant governor, said that she has heard complaints from those who haven’t received payment for Medicaid services. She was at a meeting recently of medical professionals, many of whom were complaining about the system. One provider said that she cashed out her IRA in order to continue to stay in business rather than accept money that might be later audited and turned into an accounting nightmare.

McGuire said that the lack of communication between the DHSS and the community was frustrating. “One of the things that Alaskans hate most about government is the lack of communication,” she said. “Government should communicate with all businesses anyway, but it’s most fundamental when you’re talking about caring for the most needy, for someone’s son and daughter.”

Wolf doesn’t blame the Medicaid division for wanting to modernize the system. He also praised the Medicaid division and the people who work there. However, he thinks that it should have communicated better with the providers that there was a problem, particularly as the governor was criticizing the federal government for having similar kinds of issues with its website. He discovered there was an issue only after he hadn’t received four weeks of payments from the state.

The changes and the problems, he said, were “snuck under the rug.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


New study gives guidance for female political candidates

We all know that women are held to a different standard than men, and this is no more true than in politics. The proof in Alaska is in the numbers. Only three women — Lt Governor Fran Ulmer, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Gov. Sarah Palin—have held statewide office. According to the 2010 census data, women make up 48.3 percent of Alaska’s population, yet out of 60 state legislators, only 17 are women.

So far, the only female candidate running for statewide office in 2014 is Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire. She is running for lieutenant governor. Depending on how redistricting plays out in the courts, nearly all of the current female legislators may have to run again for their seats.

And new research might help them with their campaign ads. Over the years, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation has done an incredible amount of research on women’s campaigns. One of its findings was that women candidates pay a higher price than their male counterparts for running negative ads.

Given that, how do women draw a contrast with their opponents without paying a higher price at the polls?

The foundation put that question to a team led by Chesapeake Beach Consulting and Lake Research Partners, which is run by Celinda Lake, the pollster and key campaign strategist for U. S. Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign.

The new research, developed through a series of focus groups, offers evidence-based guidance. Key findings include:

  • It works for a woman candidate to represent herself in an ad. Voters react more favorably to a woman candidate confidently speaking for herself and her positions.

  • Voters respond well to negative ads when they feel the negative message is subtle and is delivered by a real person, as opposed to the candidate.

  • Flipping conventional wisdom on its head, voters appreciate humor from a woman in a negative ad. Humor also added an element of the unexpected, which helped voters remember the ad.

  • Voters want to hear what a candidate will do for them. Voters respond more favorably to negative ads if the candidate offers them a positive message about her plans, in addition to contrasting with her opponent.

  • Women voters, especially, want to see and hear from a woman candidate because they “hoped” and “expected” more from women candidates.

  • The most convincing ads are those in which a real person shares his or her story. Voters feel this helps the candidate’s platform become more relatable and authentic and makes the negativity of the ad seem more subtle. This seems particularly powerful from women candidates whom voters believed would be more likely to bring the voice of real people to the dialogue and would be more in touch with real people’s lives.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Thank God it’s Friday: In the company of women edition

Thank god it's FridayEarlier this year, Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire, who is also running for lieutenant governor, released a startling study that she had commissioned about the status of women in Alaska. Among other findings, the review found that when both full and part time work is included, Alaska woman make 67 cents on the dollar for each dollar a man earns. Nearly 56 percent of unmarried men with children under the age of 18 own their own home in Alaska. For a single mother, that rate drops to 42 percent. Nearly 62 percent of all adults with children in a shelter were women.

McGuire is planning a conference, scheduled in October, about the economic status of women in Alaska. The list is growing, but the speakers thus far include First Lady Sandy Parnell, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and President of BP Alaska. Janet Weiss.

On Thursday, Sen. Mark Begich joined a group of about 20 women, including representatives from Planned Parenthood, to speak about some of the same issues, and federal laws that he’s pushed and continues to push. (Read more about those here). Begich’s ability to connect in small groups is one of his major strengths. And he’s particularly good with women and comfortable discussing women’s issues.

It’s too cynical for even this cynical writer to say that politics is the sole driver in both McGuire’s and Begich’s focuses on women’s issues. There are real problems here that anybody, public official or not, should be concerned about. And anybody with the ability to do something about it should.

But politics can’t be too far away from either of their minds.

McGuire’s report may point to a sad reality for many women in Alaska. But another reality is that they vote in greater numbers than do men. About 257,000 men were registered to vote in Alaska’s 2012 general election. Only 147,588 voted. In that same election, about 248,000 women were registered to vote and 152,075 did so.

Those are numbers to pay attention to. They could easily make or break a candidate.

Below are some random facts amassed about women in Alaska, facts that any politician worth his or her spit should know on the tops of their heads come election time:

  • According to the 2010 census data, women make up 48.3 percent of Alaska’s population.
  • Two women have won the Iditarod: Libby Riddles was the first and Susan Butcher was the second, who went on to win it four times.
  • Three women have won statewide office: Lt Governor Fran Ulmer, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Gov. Sarah Palin.
  • Two women have served as Alaska Speaker of the House of Representatives: Ramona Barnes and Gail Phillips.
  • Two Three women have served as the president of the Alaska Senate: Jan Faiks, Drue Pearce and Lyda Green.
  • Out of fourteen total, there are five women in Parnell’s cabinet. They are at Commerce, Administration, Labor, Fish and Game, and one is the Acting Commissioner of Revenue.
  • There are 17 women currently serving in the Alaska Legislature: 13 female members of the House of Representatives and four senators.
  • There are four major publically traded companies based in Alaska with a total of 38 board members. Of these board members only seven are women.
  • GCI recently added one woman to its board of nine. ACS’ sole female on a board of seven is Margie Brown. Northrim Bank’s sole female on the board of 12 is Irene Sparks Rowan. First National Bank has nine members, four of whom are women: Betsy Lawer, Margy Johnson, Jane Klopfer, and Lucy Mahan. Not to take anything away from them, but Lawer is the president of the bank and she Klopfer and Mahan are the chairman’s daughters.
  • Klondike Kate, the most famous female performer during the gold rush days in the late 1800s, fell in love with Alexander Pantages. In 1902, the two left Dawson to set up their own theater company in the Pacific Northwest. While in the lower 48, Kate discovered that Pantages was already married and that he had been stealing all of the money she made from her activities in the greatland. Good on her that she never forgave him.
  • In 1927, Marvel Crosson was the first female pilot to ever get a license in Alaska. In 1929 she set a new altitude record for women. She also died in a plane crash in 1929.
  • The first Latin teacher in Alaska was Ruth Schaefer who arrived in Alaska in 1939 and settled in Palmer. She is this writer’s grandmother and died in 2001 in Iowa City, Iowa. She was 92 years old and she is missed.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Sen. Lesil McGuire running for lieutenant governor

The tenacious, smart, impetuous, and always interesting state Sen. Lesil McGuire will be announcing on Wednesday at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium that she’s running for lieutenant governor in the 2014 election.

McGuire was first elected as a state representative in 2000 when she was 29 years old. She won her current Senate seat in 2006, even though during her early years of public service she drew some controversy for issues related to alcohol and her ex-husband, former Rep. Tom Anderson, who was later sentenced to five years in federal prison.

McGuire’s fought hard to prove her mettle and has risen to be part of the Senate leadership team. She chairs the powerful Senate Rules Committee, which dictates the flow of legislation to the floor for action. Sometimes that entails stopping bills, which McGuire has been known to do, even when pressured by other members of leadership.

Rumors have it that Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, who also has raised eyebrows again for issues related to drinking, is also running. He’s yet to confirm his intentions though he did file a letter of intent to seek statewide office. He’s also reportedly been calling potential challengers, all but telling them that the seat is his and to butt out.

McGuire, however, is going to decline to do so.

No matter which other Republican she will run against in the primary, McGuire’s candidacy will be interesting if nothing else because she is likely to be the only one in the race whose politics, particularly on social issues, might be described as moderate. That is if being a moderate these days means that you don’t believe that abortion should be outlawed in cases of incest, rape, and when the mother’s life is in danger.

It’ll also be interesting because she will likely be the only candidate who can walk just as  gracefully down the carpeted halls of the Capitol building as she can on icy sidewalks, wearing stilettos.

And she’s a fighter.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com