People Person — One of the reasons we love Rep. Don Young is that he listens, he really listens. Loyal readers will remember a few months ago we pointed out someone in Young’s office was using his office account to pay for their celebrity gossip fix with a subscription to People magazine. Apparently Don heard us and acted. According to congressional records, the feds have now been reimbursed for that subscription.
Gone Gonzo — The big news of the week is clearly Mayor Dan Sullivan filing against Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Imagine how bad I felt when sitting in the Division of Elections office 10 minutes before the filing deadline I messaged someone at the Murkowski campaign saying “Mayor Dan Sullivan is here but won’t say what he’s filing for.” Then as I was typing “just kidding” Sullivan actually walked in and filed. Apparently Sullivan is Alaska’s Beetlejuice; Joke about him three times and he’ll appear and file for something.
Good On Ya — Young and energetic Jason Grenn filed just before the deadline to run for the House seat Rep. Liz Vazquez currently holds. I’ve heard from several sources the uber-upbeat Grenn wanted to be fair to his bosses at the Alaska Community Foundation and told them he was planning on running. The non-profit’s board then said he didn’t have their permission because they were afraid of a perceived conflict that would be created if he got elected. That is questionable logic, to say the least. Grenn decided to file anyway.
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Bold Move — When Kevin Kastner filed to run against Sen. Bill Wielechowski for the East Anchorage Senate seat, the media focused on Kastner’s job as Executive Director of Iron Dog. The more compelling and impactful part of his announcement was that Kastner in his press release chose to acknowledge his partner. For an Alaska Republican to openly talk about being gay in campaign material takes guts. I can’t say that I ever remember seeing it done.
Oh Dan, No — After sending shockwaves through the political world Wednesday night by filing to run against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, former Mayor Dan Sullivan headed off to the fundraiser for South Anchorage candidate for State House Jennifer Johnston. By the time he arrived word had spread through the event. Those in attendance say the Mayor had a hard time finding anyone interested in talking to him other than the occasional “what the hell are you thinking?” In fact, the Mayor was even spotted getting scolded by his old financial consigliere Cheryl Frasca for the move.
Johnston Kickoff — Speaking of the Jennifer Johnston event, she kicked off her campaign Wednesday night with a fundraiser at the home of Roger Phillips and Gloria O’Niell. Notable attendees included Judy Brady, Jim Udelhoven, Chris Birch, Jason Metrokin, Tara Sweeney, Beth and Lee Leschper, Curtis Thayer, and as mentioned above, Cheryl Frasca. Word is Johnston raised over $9,000 at the event.
Primary Fights — As we reported yesterday, Alaska Republican Party threats of primarying members who work across the aisle fell flat. What is going unreported is it that the Alaska Democratic Party appears to have successfully carried through on the same threat. Both Rep. Bob Herron (Bethel) and Rep. Ben Nageak (Barrow) — the only Dems caucusing with the Republican majority and not part of the more moderate Musk Ox Caucus — drew primary challengers.
We’re being told by those who know rural politics that both are serious challengers. In fact, Democrat insiders told me the challengers will receive significant support from the Alaska Democratic Party.
One Dem quipped “It will be fun to watch Bob Herron suddenly stop voting with Rep. Charisse Millett and Rep. Craig Johnson and start voting like Rep. Bryce Edgmon.”
Ross Files — Yesterday candidate for the Hillside House seat Ross Bieling posted this on Facebook:
Sigh, so much wrong here. It’s like a Where’s Waldo of “I’m Not Really Alaskan” campaign material. Let’s do this bullet point style:
- Would someone please return Ross’ caps lock key? There is nothing less Alaska folksy than screaming at people online.
- “This campground known as Alaska,” since when do Alaska Republicans proudly proclaim our state is a park or campground? Isn’t that the kind of thing we get upset with Outsiders for implying?
- What’s up with the plaid lumberjack picture? Every Alaskan, even Dem Ivy League lawyer Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar, knows the “I’m Alaskan” uniform is a Carhartt jacket with at least one stain somewhere on it.
- Bieling says of his opponent Jennifer Johnston “The municipal government is a billion dollars in debt on the backs of Alaskan families. During your tenure, you helped create that debt with your votes.” I think most Anchorage-ites are aware the Muni has a tax cap and isn’t allowed to deficit spend. The debt Bieling mentions comes from bonds that were passed by voters. It was not thrust upon them by the Anchorage Assembly or Mayor.
Ross Files (Part 2) — I’m told to expect a challenge to Ross Bieling’s residency soon. You are supposed to live in Alaska three years, and in the district you want to run in for at least one full calendar year. The Alaska Division of Elections initially found Bieling did not meet those standards, but he refiled a few weeks later and says he’s all good now. We’ll see.
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