The War At Work — The race to replace Sen. Lesil McGuire is heating up between Republicans Natasha Von Imhof and Jeff Landfield. Nowhere more so than in the halls of GCI. The telecom company is known to be very, very politically active, but it also happens to be where Landfield works.
They join a rapidly growing list of GCI’ers who have donated to one side or the other, with Von Imhoff getting the most of the head honchos, and Landfield getting donations from more of his co-workers in the rank-and-file. That’s gonna make the company picnic a lil’ bit tense, don’t you think?
AKGOP Convention (Part 1) — The Alaska GOP is holding their convention starting today in Fairbanks. All eyes appear to be on the 25 delegate slots for the national convention that are to be decided over the next two days. Word is, there are as many as 170 applicants, and party Chairman Emeritus Randy Ruedrich has been calling the list to ask who applicants would support for the presidential nomination once unbound after the second ballot. Who Ruedrich, errr, I mean the nominations committee (wink, wink), chooses will be interesting.
AKGOP Convention (Part 2) — Speaking of Ruedrich, readers of this column have questioned why I feel so strongly Tuckerman Babcock is the front-runner for party chairman. After all, Ann Brown appears to have a lot of hardcore conservative support. Numerous sources have informed me that Randy is supporting Babcock, and no one in Alaska organizes for the state convention better. That’s how he came to rule the party for the last 16 years, ya know. I’m now being told that those who were nervous about having to miss the convention, for personal reasons, or because of the legislative session that never ends, were given permission by Ruedrich to stay home. He says he has all the votes he needs to do what he wants to do at the convention.
AKGOP Convention (Bold Predictions) — Because of what I said right there ^^^, I am going to formally predict that Babcock is your new AKGOP chairman, Rick Whitbeck is Vice-Chairman, and longtime Ruedrich ally Glenn Clary will win National Committeeman. Oh, and Cynthia Henry will win her uncontested run for National Committeewoman. AKGOP Convention (Cupcake Towers) — Here is a seating chart for the Alaska Republican Party Convention. I don’t care how much of a tree huggy, hippy-type
, pinko, liberal you are, don’t you kind of have to feel for AKGOP convention delegates? I mean how would you like to try to conduct your business with massive Donald Trump and Ted Cruz cupcake towers looming over you? Its enough to make me not eat one….well, not really. Lisa On The Move — Those supporting U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski for re-election got up at the butt-crack of dawn Thursday to get on a Lisa-sponsored bus to Fairbanks for the convention. Here are some pics. Don’t worry, these folks looked happier once 7 AM rolled around.
Speaking of Conventions — Let’s not forget the Democrats too have a state convention coming in the next few weeks. You haven’t heard about it, but trust me, it’s happening. In fact, it will have some national Democrat star power with DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz making an appearance. That will be interesting given the widespread allegations thrown at Wasserman-Schultz that she was rigging the system to aid Hillary Clinton. The recent Alaska Democratic Party Presidential Caucus proved Alaska is Bernie Sanders country . . . to the tune of 81%. Will some of those Alaska Bern-ers throw some drama Wasserman-Schultz’ way? Stay tuned.
Definition Of Insanity — So it seems everyone in the state, including a judge, has gotten on the same page with the idea that the Legislature horribly abused the sole source contracting process in buying the Anchorage LIO. That process allows state officials to just pick who they want to do business with, and then negotiate a deal, rather than put a good or service out to transparent and competitive bidding per a request for proposals (RFA) process.
With that mistake fresh in their mind, state legislators are making sure to do things right this time around. They are being much more transparent in their contracting for temporary office space in Juneau during their current overtime session (rather than use a facility they have already paid for in Anchorage) and exploring the purchase of the Wells Fargo building in West Anchorage for their new Anchorage LIO.
Ummmm, wait, no, I’m told they are using the exact same behind-closed-doors sole sourcing for those projects too. Maybe one of us should call the the House Majority’s Idea Line (1-844-414-5949) and suggest the idea of competitive bidding and transparent government.
Mags Out Of Stock — Word spread this week that all may not be right in the campaign world of former Republican, but currently Independent, but trying to get on the Democratic Party-ballot, a.k.a. U.S. Senatorial candidate Margaret Stock’s campaign. This is the time in a U.S. Senate race when if things aren’t going well candidates tend to make a change in campaign management.
Remember, it was almost this exact same time two years ago when the floundering campaign of former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell shook things up. So it is with Ms. Stock. I’m told she has parted ways with campaign manager Mike Edwards in favor of Keith Rosendahl.
Mr. Rosendahl is a Democrat political operative from the lower 48 who has previously run Democrat Bill Hughes’ congressional campaign in New Jersey and, until recently, Democrat Victoria Steele’s congressional campaign in Arizona. Did Ms. Stock’s lackluster $270,000 first quarter fundraising numbers prompt the change? Almost certainly.
Best Line From The New Assembly — New Anchorage Assembly member Eric Croft had the best line from his first meeting on Tuesday: “I’m starting to get the hang of how things work here; we speak as many times as we want but then we apologize for it.” Best Line On The Legislature Moving To West Anchorage — I requested comment from several public officials about the idea of moving the Anchorage LIO out of downtown. Assemblyman Eric Croft also had the best line when comparing the West Anchorage location (in his district) to Downtown:
“Pros: Better bars (for Legislators to slip away to at 3:00ish for “business meetings”), easier parking, closer to the airport (for junkets to Asia and DC). Cons: Our trash cans don’t know when you are near, sucks to own the downtown monstrosity and have to pay rent somewhere else too.”
New Battle Lines — Speaking of the Anchorage Assembly, this past Tuesday was the first substantive meeting for the newly elected trio of Eric Croft, John Weddleton, and Forrest Dunbar. It’s probably too early to make any hard judgments about the new dynamics on the Assembly. But judging by that one meeting, here is how things look. The Assembly appears to generally split into the following groups:
Old Pros: This group consists of Patrick Flynn, Elvi Grey-Jackson, and Dick Traini. They are generally ideologically aligned with our progressive Mayor, but all of them have served at least 8 years on the assembly and pre-date the current administration. That means they are more likely to think and act independently of the administration. New Guys: This group is made up of the newly elected Dunbar, Weddleton, and Croft. They are also ideologically aligned with the Mayor, but are much more willing to carry the admin’s water. They appeared to do exactly that on both Patrick Flynn’s move to define the Mayor’s power to veto assembly amendments to legislation, and on the issue of how and when to offer taxpayers a rebate. In both cases, folks from this group could be seen strolling over to talk with the Mayor and City Attorney during debate, presumably to coordinate arguments.
Along For The Ride: Assemblymen Time Steele and Pete Peterson are progressive, but they aren’t a driving force on anything. The Cons: Assembly members Amy Demboski, Bill Starr, and Bill Evans are all philosophically conservative and thus out of line with the administration and considerably out numbered on the assembly. They will articulate a competing vision on most issues, but the Mayor can easily get his needed votes elsewhere. So there isn’t much power in this group.