Friday in the Sun!!! (February 3)

 

Making A Change — With John-Henry Heckendorn now officially on board in Governor Bill Walker’s office, many have wondered if the very effective Ship Creek Group (SCG) campaign management operation will continue. It turns out it will. Heckendorn will be replaced by Rafi Bildner.

Bildner came to Alaska after getting started in politics down in the Lower 48, which included working on the 2012 Obama campaign. In 2016, Bildner worked on a number of successful Alaska campaigns for SCG, including those of Dean Westlake, Zach Fansler, Gary Knopp, Adam Wool, Dan Ortiz, and Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins.  

Man In The Mirror — The new Donald Trump administration is causing a lot of people to re-evaluate where they stand politically. One of those is Assemblyman Bill Evans, who has changed his voter registration from “Republican” to “Non-partisan.”

Evans isn’t publicizing the move because he sees it as a personal decision, not a protest or any kind of a message he is trying to send. He did make it clear in an email what prompted the move: “I left the Republican party for one reason… Trump.”

He also said he “flirted” with the idea of becoming a Democrat but, “there are too many D policies and attitudes that I am not comfortable with either.”

Evans now joins the largest group of Alaska voters who choose not to be affiliated with either major party. Non-partisans and Undeclareds currently make up 52.6% of the Alaska electorate, compared with 42.1% who are Rs or Ds.

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.

Not Really The Numbers You Want — A while back The Midnight Sun  shared numbers from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showing that after six days in office 35% of voters thought President Donald Trump should be impeached. That just seems crazy and as you might imagine after another full week in office those numbers have changed significantly — they’ve gotten worse. Now 40% of voters now say Trump should be thrown out. Only 48% oppose impeachment.

Less than half of voters believe impeaching a guy elected only three months ago and sworn in just two weeks ago would be the wrong path for our country. That is INSANE.

Cab Wars — There are plenty of players in the Alaska cab wars, which are being fought over whether — or how — to open the Alaska market to ridesharing companies like Uber or keep it closed to only allow traditional cab companies (Sen. Mia Costello’s SB 14). You have Uber and its lobbyist Pat Carter. Then there are the traditional cab drivers, who have lobbyist Frank Bickford as their guy. There is also a smattering of other groups, including Americans For Prosperity – Alaska, putting in their two cents.

Now, another player is taking the field. The lesser known Uber-like company Lyft has hired Alaska lobbyist Raymond Matiashowski to make sure its interests are reflected.

Appointment Listening — Join the throngs of The Midnight Sun The Podcast listeners who wait eagerly for the latest episode to drop every Sunday morning. If you aren’t already addicted, you soon will be. 

Check out our special edition this week on the protests at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

On The List — The very short period for filing to run for local office in Anchorage is underway. It opened last Friday and closes next Friday. Here is the list of who has filed so far. There aren’t many surprises. Candidates who long ago made their intention known filed immediately: Chris Constant (Assembly – Downtown), John Brassel (Assembly – Eagle River), Felix Rivera (Assembly – Midtown), Albert Fogle (Assembly – South Anchorage), Dave Donley (School Board), and Andy Holleman (School Board).

As we reported last week, David Nees has now made it official and filed to run for both School Board and the West Anchorage Assembly seat at the same time. That sets up a three-way race for School Board Seat D with Nees, Holleman, and Kay Schuster that mirrors last year’s three-way School Board race, which allowed left-leaning Starr Marsett to beat Nees and Schuster, right-leaning candidates both, with only 34% of the vote.

The question to watch here is, will Nees’ presence in the School Board race, a presence that all but guarantees conservatives lose the race, cost him some support among Republican insiders and activists in his run for Assembly? I’m guessing it will.

***Update*** As this column was being posted, David Nees informed me that the Anchorage Municipal Clerk’s Office has told him he has until next Friday at noon to decide which position he will be running for. If he doesn’t volunentarily withdraw from one of the races the Clerk will decide for him and remove him from one of the spots on the ballot.

According to Nees, the Clerk’s Office freely admits there is nothing in municipal code or state law blocking him from running for two offices at the same time. He claims they are justifying their move based on doing what is in best interests of the other candidates for office.

We have asked the Clerk’s Office for an explanation and will share it when we recieve it.

Days Until The Next State Election641
Days Until Muni Election60

New To The Party — At last weekend’s Alaska Democratic Party Central Committee meeting, the party elected some new officers and committee members, including Katherine Pfeiffer – Party Secretary; Brent Watkins – First Vice-Chair; and Shauna Thornton, Carolyn Covington, Nadine Lefebvre, and Mindy O’Neall – At-large members.

Congrats to everyone on their new positions.

In The Fight — The ACLU of Alaska is getting directly into the fight over President Donald Trump’s immigration travel ban.

According to a press release from the group:

“The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska filed a Freedom of Information Act request today with its local U.S. Customs and Border Protection office to expose how Trump administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s immigration ban, acting in violation of federal courts that ordered a stay on the ban’s implementation. The filing today is part of a coordinated effort from 49 ACLU affiliates, which filed 18 FOIAs with CBP field offices and its headquarters spanning 55 international airports across the country.”

“President Trump’s Muslim ban is unlawful, unjust, and un-American,” said Joshua A. Decker, Executive Director of the ACLU of Alaska. “That’s why we at the ACLU immediately went to court to stop it. But on top of the President’s wrong-headed ban, it’s deeply troubling that Customs and Border Protection officials defied federal court orders to stop. No one in this country, including the President and the U.S. Government, is above the law.”

Circling Back — Last week we told you it would be interesting to see how many conservatives turned out for the March for Life, the right-wing response to the Women’s March. The Women’s March easily drew 3,000 people in Anchorage alone, with plenty more marching in communities across the state. According to

According to The Frontiersman, the March for Life had a touch over 300 participants. That isn’t bad, but it definitely shows the difference in energy between the right and left in Alaska right now.  

Giving Props — Last week House Majority folks faaaaaalipped out over me pointing out how they threw ep. Charisse Millett to the curb along with her bill to offer benefits to survivors of first responders who lose their lives in the line of service. But this week, if what I’m hearing is right, they do deserve some credit.

The word I’m hearing is that Rep. Steve Thompson’s HB 16 will hit the House floor next week. The bill would allow citizens to voluntarily have a symbol added to their driver’s license indicating a disability. It is hoped such a marker could alert police to a mental disability so they can take that into account when dealing with that person. If HB 16 is passed, it would mean one of the first three bills passed by the House would be a Minority member’s bill. That would certainly show the Majority is keeping its promises to allow Minority bills to be heard and passed if they make it through the committee process.  

Y’all Need To Just Stop — I was initially amused when I heard several progressive leaders suggest Mayor Ethan Berkowitz respond to Pres. Trump’s actions on immigration by openly declaring Anchorage a sanctuary city, and dare The Donald to cut off the city’s federal funds as a result.

Then I heard chants demanding the move from dozens of marchers protesting Trump’s actions at the federal building in downtown Anchorage. And now I’m seeing Facebook fill up with posts like this one:

Ok, I’m not going to tell anyone who feels this way to change their position on the underlying issue, but I will tell you your sense of political messaging is terrible. The reason conservatives love the term “sanctuary city” is because it implies the people affected are criminals and scofflaws who need a place to hide from the law.

When you repeat, and in so doing reaffirm, that this fight is about “sanctuary” for those running afoul of the law, you are doing more to damage your own immigrant-friendly position than Trump is when he calls them “bad hombres.”

I’m not telling anyone where to be on the issue, but amateur political messaging mistakes drive me nuts.

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

 

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.”
  • Lynn Willis

    Don’t most emergency responders belong to collective bargaining units and if they do shouldn’t survivor benefits be a negotiable point in a labor agreement? Why weren’t they before now? The issue will be what the military describes as “line of duty determination” for benefits. Will the benefits be different based on the circumstances of death/disability and who will objectively evaluate those circumstances and arbitrate the benefits?

    • AkSounder

      I would say you make excellent points for putting it in state law where legislators can decide who qualifies and what the parameters are. Yes, most first responders or public safety employees belong to a bargaining unit….but not the same one. It makes a lot of sense for this to be standardized rather than vary from one contract to another.

      • Lynn Willis

        The Legislature cannot be expected to codify all the possible permutations of circumstances surrounding an event: therefore, they will constantly be returning to this issue with motivations that will not be clear. .

        Frankly, this is political posturing similar to the endless :”thanks for your service” which is deliciously ironic to we Vietnam Veterans. While I support the concept of these benefits they are best accomplished by collective bargaining to both define the benefit, the process to obtain that benefit and to protect the public interest. I would say that leaving this to the Alaska Legislature is just asking for another Fish Plant.

  • akbatgirly

    My guess is that the Republicans are going to own Donald Trump and his insanity, lock, stock, and barrel, for a very long time. Frankly, I now consider anyone who still supports him to be “off in the head”.

    The word sanctuary first brings to my mind the picture of a church. Seems like churches are very popular with Republicans. Of course they haven’t exactly been embracing most of Christ’s philosophies of late, so maybe they don’t think much of the word sanctuary anymore either.