Friday in the Sun!!! (October 21)

Friday in the Sun is here

Elections Have Consequences — A recent piece in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer talking about the implications of a Democrat takeover in the Senate had an interesting point about Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who currently chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The story said:

“Maria Cantwell stands to become chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  She has previously headed the Indian Affairs and Small Business Committees.  Cantwell is on no fewer than five Senate committees, three of them front-rank.”

“Alas, Cantwell will no longer have Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, as the panel’s senior Republican.  Murkowski is a competent adult.  The new ranking Republican (or chair) will be Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, who brought a snowball to the Senate floor to refute climate.”

Senate Republicans have their own hard to follow rules regarding how committee leadership and seniority is governed, we won’t dive into here. When we talked to Murkowski’s people, they pointed out that it is Sen. John Barrasso who would be the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in a Democrat takeover, not Sen. Inhofe. Otherwise, they say, the point made is true.

For those interested, Murkowski’s folks say she would likely become the ranking member on the Indian Affairs Committee.

Dirty Thinking — Last Friday Joe Miller’s campaign got all kinds of exercised after catching a spy:

The Joe Miller campaign for US Senate denounced the Murkowski campaign dirty tricks today, after a Murkowski staffer entered Miller HQ to sign up as a volunteer.”

“We knew Lisa Murkowski supported the surveillance state,” said campaign manager Shawn Dow. “But we didn’t know she’d take it this far. But it shouldn’t be surprising. Stands to reason that she’d campaign a lot like she governs.”

The Murkowski campaign says the guy in question isn’t a staffer, but an overly-zealous young volunteer, who has received a good talking to. Eh, this is the kind of thing that happens with young volunteers. That is why we tend to believe the person most deserving of a hug on large campaigns is the volunteer coordinator.  

Days until the General Election — 18

Coordination — The Alaska Democratic Party this week decided to start highlighting their candidates via email saying:

“Elections are about the future and it’s important to be informed. That’s why we are introducing the members of the Alaska Democratic Party’s 2016 Coordinated Campaign.”

“This is the first in a series of Candidate Spotlights featuring candidates seeking your vote on November 8.”

dems-on-stockSo who was their very first candidate to spotlight? Independent U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Stock. Wait, what? Not only is she not a Democrat, but the Democratic Party actually has their own candidate in that race in Ray Metcalfe.

It has been an open secret that the Democratic Party hierarchy doesn’t like Metcalfe and hates that he is their nominee, but with just over two weeks until election day they have stopped even pretending to even tolerate him.

Five Thirty Alaska-hate — We at The Midnight Sun are big fans of political analytics site fivethirtyeight.com, but not of some shade thrown on Alaska by the site’s frontman Nate Silver. Here is what he said in a chat about the presidential election this week :

micah: OK, so if we’re ranking Clinton’s “reach” states in terms of feasibility, seems like we’re going 1. Arizona, 2. Georgia … then what?

natesilver: A.L.A.S.K.A. I’m not sure why Alaska is close, and the polls there are kind of crap. But the polls there have it close.

Ok, so Silver isn’t wrong. Alaska polling is notoriously erratic and unreliable, but he doesn’t have to tell the world that.

New Leader — Word on the street is Fairbanks Sen. Pete Kelly has the votes locked up to be the next Senate President if a GOP-led majority holds on election day, which they probably will.

Bye Bye — We are hearing long-time leg finance staffer James Armstrong has made it known he plans on retiring after the coming legislative session. That will leave a pretty cushy $100K+ legislative staff gig up for grabs. It will be interesting to see who gets tapped to be the heir apparent.img_1532-1

Stirred — Several corners of Alaska’s political community spun up yesterday over the website and Facebook page for a group called Protect Our PFD. The site is clearly intended to influence elections and takes a shot at Sen. John Coghill specifically for not protecting the PFD. The site, however,  does not have the proper “Paid for by” disclosure and isn’t registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC).

We talked to several political consultants who told us they got calls from APOC yesterday saying the watchdog group img_1533-pngis investigating who is behind the site.  

This will be a good test of how effectively APOC can uncover who is behind such covert political operations.

Don on Don — Yesterday Rep. Don Young and Steve Lindbeck debated, primarily on resource issues, at the Hotel Captain Cook. When allowed to ask Young a question of his own, Lindbeck asked the obvious question, “Are you going to vote for Donald Trump” to which Young responded, “Probably not, but I don’t know for sure right now.”

That was interesting, but we found even more interesting Young’s response to moderator John Sturgeon’s question “What can realistically be done to fix the federal overreach impact in Alaska?” Young said, “Secede from the union would be the best thing, but that isn’t going to happen.”

Do it — Early voting starts in Alaska on Monday…GO VOTE!!!

Governor Comes In — The Southwest Anchorage battle in House District 22 between Rep. Liz Vazquez and Jason Grenn has quickly become one of the biggest battles in the state. There is a growing belief that Grenn could win. That belief is bolstered by the attendance at Grenn’s Wednesday fundraiser of business leaders Ed Rasmuson, Jim Jansen, and ConocoPhillips Government Relations guy Michael Hurley.

So everything is going Grenn’s way, right? Well, yes, but the hot news from Grenn’s fundraiser was an unexpected appearance by Gov. Bill Walker. According to some recent reports, Gov. Walker’s popularity has dipped since vetoing a portion of the PFD this year, so it is an open question whether his personal support of Grenn will really help in this overwhelmingly Republican district.

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.

APOC-ed — It is that time of the year. Just buckle in and wait for the inevitable slew of APOC complaints and fights over campaign signs in inappropriate locations. We have already seen a complaint filed against Natasha Von Imhof by Jeff Landfield over some of her husband’s business dealings.

Now we see that APOC itself has filed two complaints against Rep. Liz Vazquez for late and completely unfiled campaign disclosures. We also hear that another complaint will be filed against her Monday, so we’ll watch for that.

As with sign battles, it is important to note that APOC complaints almost never have an impact on the outcomes of races. That doesn’t stop candidates, party officials, and campaign staff from freaking out about them. In the end, that is their only real impact on campaigns.

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

Here are just some of the other events you can find on our Political Calendar

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