Friday in the Sun!!! (Post 2016 General Election Version)

Friday in the Sun is here

On The Trump Stump — We have heard from several sources that former Republican state Senator Jerry Ward, who has been serving as the Alaska State Director for the Donald Trump campaign, has been invited to serve on Trump’s transition team.

Shady Poop — The more and more we see from the Pat Higgins campaign the more and more we really hope he gets sent packing when all the votes are tallied. In previous weeks we told you how offended we were by Higgins quoting his military contractor service shuffling paperwork on a peaceful tropical island to the war zone service of our active duty military.

Well, this is just as bad, just in a different way. In the closing days of the campaign, Higgins’ campaign sent out this mailer to Republicans in his district.

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The mailer is a blatant attempt to deceive and mislead voters. First, the mailer implies Assemblywoman Amy Demboski was part of an effort to get people not to vote for Millett, which she wasn’t. Perhaps most disturbing the “paid for by” disclosure required by law and intended to tell voters who is really behind campaign messages is intentionally manipulated. It is printed upside down, in the smallest font we’ve ever seen on a mailer, and is literally camouflaged on Dembski’s jacket.

It is an example of the worst we’ve come to expect in politics and reminds us of this disingenuous attempt by Democrats to deceive voters in 2010.

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This mailer was paid for by the Alaska Democratic Party. Back then liberal activists and even the Young Democrats had the good sense to call out and condemn such tactics. Will they do it again this time? They should.

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.

Back In The Fold — It looks like Alaska Republican Party leadership is quickly making good on their promise to welcome back party office holders who had to resign their positions in order to support non-Republican candidate Joe Miller. Last night Republicans in House District 11 met and, with the support of party leadership, re-elected Miller supporters Shannon Connolly and Daniel Hamm as the district chair and bonus vote respectively.

We’re told similar moves will happen across the Alaska GOP’s structure as the process of post-election healing continues.

Come On DOE, Just Get It Right Already — Conservative activist David Nees sent us a note last week about there being a discrepancy regarding the number of signatures the Alaska Division of Elections (DOE) required this year for non-party affiliated candidates to petition to get on the general election ballot in senate district N.

The requirement is that non-partisan candidates need to get 1% of the number of people who voted in that district’s previous election. That would make the number of signatures required for senate district N about 190 signatures. DOE set the number at a far lower 50 signatures for this election. Because union top dog Vince Beltrami used that provision to get on the ballot to run against Sen. Cathy Giessel Republicans tried to make an issue of the discrepancy.

So we asked DOE why the number was set so low when other senate districts in similar situations required the higher number. This is part of the response we received from Director of DOE Josie Bahnke:

“Since the calculations for 2016 Senate districts were done in December 2014 and the staff that completed the calculations are no longer with the division, we do not know exactly why Senate N was designated as requiring 50 signatures.”

Are you serious? DOE is literally saying they have no idea why a standard for getting a candidate on a ballot is what it is? We aren’t lawyers, but we can’t imagine that is a legally defensible position. We are stunned.

After taking a deep breath we should credit Bahnke for being honest and transparent. We should also acknowledge that this standard was set in 2014, only hours after the Parnell-Treadwell administration left office and all of their people and policies were still in place at DOE so this really reflects on them and not on the Walker-Mallott administration.

But still, given the failing of election systems and standards in rural voting in this year’s primaries and current failings such as not being able to tell the public how many uncounted ballots the state currently has, the Lt. Governor absolutely has to make some changes at DOE going forward.  

We don’t know is almost never an acceptable answer from officials when it comes to the functioning of our elections. That it has become DOE’s default answer to everything is….beyond troubling.

Party Power — The Alaska Republican Party sent quite a public message to state house Republicans choosing to organize with the bipartisan majority. The party stands ready to recruit candidates to take them out in primary elections in two years. The message was clearly intended to keep more Republican legislators from joining the coalition than as an actual threat to those who already have.

Don’t be fooled into thinking only the Alaska GOP is doing this kind of thing, however. Last week word spread that longtime Democrat Sen. Lyman Hoffman agreed to caucus with the Republicans no matter what. By election night, one prominent elected Democrat said party insiders had heard already agreed to start searching for a viable primary opponent for Hoffman.

Hoffman is something of a political institution in Southwest Alaska, but Democrats seem confident he can be beaten after watching him finish third in Calista Corp.’s board elections last year.

Walker Shuffle — Word is a staff shakeup is coming before the end of the year in the Governor’s Office. We haven’t heard any specifics on who is likely to stay and who will be going, but we’re told changes are likely to be in place before the legislative session begins.

Next Time — Remember all those Alaska GOP mailers attacking Sen. Lisa Murkowski six years ago that the party is now so mad Joe Miller’s people kept them to use against her this time around? Well, there are still a bunch left so maybe we’ll see a Joe vs. Lisa round three in 2022.

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Days Until The Next State Election — 726

Committees — The House Majority put out their full list of committee chairs yesterday. Interestingly Juneau Rep. Sam Kito will Chair the Legislative Council. That means three things to us:

  1. No more special sessions outside of Juneau
  2. Anchorage won’t be getting that third LIO we have all been clamoring for. We’ll just have to make do with the two we’ll end up having to pay for.
  3. Pam Varni, the legislative staffer most responsible for us having to pay for two Anchorage LIO’s to begin with, can breathe easy as her job is now safe.

New Comms Crew — Communications Directors for the Alaska Republican Party (Suzanne Downing) and the Alaska Democratic Party (Jake Hamburg) have announced they are leaving those positions. Who will take their place? We’ll let you know.

Math — Number of Alaska legislators: 60, Number of freshmen legislators this year 15. That is a full 25%. That could make for some very interesting learning curves.

Parish The Thought — We haven’t met brand new Juneau/Mendenhall Valley Rep. Justin Parish, but he already has a reputation among even his Democratic colleagues. One high-profile elected Democrat lamented to us about Parish being “really immature” and worried that he is best known for being “a fixture in the Juneau bar scene.”

Late Word — Late yesterday word broke that Rep. Dan Ortiz was added to the House Finance Committee. That is important because it literally guarantees Southeast Alaskans a seat at the table.

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

2 Comments on "Friday in the Sun!!! (Post 2016 General Election Version)"

  1. Regarding the 50 signature issue for the Senate district: I think if you check, you will find there were several senate seats with the 50 signature requirements, not just the one Beltrami was after.

    Presumably this was because all seats up for the first time after a reapportionment followed the regulation setting a 50 signature requirement, waiving the normal 1%.

    • Senate N was up for election in 2014. That was after reapportionment. All other seats up that year no have the higher requirement.

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