Friday In The Sun (Jan 8)

Newb — Alaska State Representative Lynn Gattis is welcoming Chrystal Randolph to her staff for the upcoming legislative session. According to Gattis, Randolph “Was born and raised in the Matsu, and graduated from the University of Alaska Southeast this December, with an English and Communications degree.”

Bye-Bye, Kinda — Jordan Marshall is leaving his position as External Affairs Manager (sounds like code for lobbyist) with the Rasmuson Foundation. He’s apparently decided to pursue the greener pastures of being a “Government Relations Consultant” for the foundation (still sounds like code for lobbyist), but now he’ll be able to take on other clients. Most everyone likes Marshall, so we’re sure he’ll do well in this new endeavor.

Congrats — Showing that we have a heart too, we’d like to send out warm congratulations to former KTUU anchor Jason Moore and former Democratic staffer Susanna Orr who tied the knot last week. The two met in 2002 while working on former Lieutenant Governor Fran Ulmer’s failed gubernatorial campaign and then were re-introduced on election night 2010 while celebrating Senator Lisa Murkowski’s write-in victory. Will they be the Moore-Orrs? The Orr-Moores? This could get fun. Word is they’ll just keep their names as is. Good call.

Midnight Sun On The Air!!!!  
Master of Morning Radio Rick Rydell (AM 650 KENI) has asked us to come on every week and share Friday in the Sun with his audience. So listen for our inside scoop every Friday morning at 7:35.

Early Bird Gets To Travel — On Tuesday Governor Bill Walker issued a freeze on state hiring and travel. As with any such announcement one immediately wonders how frozen the freeze actually is. The Governor said at the press conference the travel ban won’t apply to things that are part of a state worker’s job duties, but is intended rather for “conference type” travel. The problem there is the Governor had a conference he himself was sponsoring on Alaska housing issues that began the very next day. Would his brand-new travel ban apply to his own conference?

We’re told by the Governor’s office the answer is yes, buuuut since some of the people had already begun their travel to the conference, such as DHHS’ Scott Ciambor, they were fortunate enough to finish the trip as planned. Others who waited until the last minute to travel, such as Deputy Commissioner of Corrections Dianne Castro had the ban applied, so no trip for them.

As a follow up, it’s worth noting that the “no travel for conferences” policy apparently has no effect on elected officials. Both Lt. Governor Byron Mallott and Sen. Lesil McGuire are still listed as attending the Arctic Encounter conference in Seattle next week. We’ll of course be interested to see the travel receipts from their offices.

Speaking Of Bans — While in the process of covering the story of radio host Bernadette Wilson being dropped by KFQD and replaced by Mark Colavecchio, who starts his new show monday, it was uncovered that former KFQD host Casey Reynolds (yours truly) is now welcome to come on the station any time, ending a ban Wilson claimed existed. (It’s my column, I can write about me if I want to.)

Fly Into The Sun
If you have morsels you’d like shared in this column please email me at mnsunak@gmail.com.

Run Jennifer, Run — Current Assemblywoman from South Anchorage Jennifer Johnston has decided to run for Rep. Mike Hawker’s state house seat. A formal announcement should be forthcoming sometime soon. You’ll remember Hawker announced last week he won’t seek re-election. That sets up an interesting fight between the staunchly conservative Ross Bieling and the decidedly moderate Johnston for the seat. Expect that race to get nasty, quick.

US Senate Race Fun — For most of us in Alaska, the US Senate race seems like a guaranteed Republican win. It might be Lisa Murkowski or it might be a Republican challenger to her, but it will definitely be a Republican, right? Apparently nationally renowned race handicapper Charlie Cook isn’t totally convinced. His site doesn’t list Alaska among the 12 races it sees as “Solid Republican” meaning the race is “not considered competitive and are not likely to become closely contested.” He ranks Alaska rather as “Likely Republican” meaning the race has “the potential to become engaged”. Is there any Democrat in the state other than Mark Begich you could see winning that race under any, and I mean ANY, circumstances? And is Begich enough of a specter to move the race rating all by himself? Apparently to folks Outside.

Event Of The Week — The big gathering this week took place at the Bootleggers Cove home of former Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell where over 60 Alaskans gathered to support John Sturgeon’s lawsuit to stop federal overreach in land management issues. Word is they raised $5,000 to help keep the suit going. Notable attendees included Treadwell, US Sen. Dan Sullivan, Verne Martell, Sen. Murkowski staff Angelina Burney and Mike Pawlowski, Craig Fleener, Attorney General Craig Richards, Eddie Grasser, Rep. Lora Reinbold, Rep. Cathy Tilton, Rep. Craig Johnson and Malcolm Roberts . We’re told special thanks goes to Danna of Moose Mamas for the yummy food.

Big Week — This week the political calendar comes alive after a slumber for the holidays. Tomorrow alone is packed. State legislators will be gathering for an Anchorage Caucus listening session at the Loussac Library at noon, Rep. Lora Reinbold is hosting a “symposium” on “Common Core” at 9AM, and the Alaska Republican Party is hosting an event for Millennials at 5PM. The really big event this upcoming week will likely be the Wednesday campaign kickoff event for Anchorage Assembly candidate Forrest Dunbar. Check out these and other political events from across the political spectrum on our political calendar.

About the Author

Casey Reynolds
Reynolds served as communications director for the Alaska Republican Party from 2008-2011. He left the Party in 2011 to host his own popular morning radio political talk show on AM750 / FM103.7 KFQD. Reynolds now runs The Midnight Sun (midnightsunak.com), crowned by the Anchorage Press as “Alaska’s best political blog.”