Speculating on rumors and gossip surrounding Alaska politics is a time-honored tradition. It’s time for our weekly trip through the grand, gross, weird, wild and wonderful world of Alaska politics. (Also if you feel like you have something good, you can always shoot me a tip via email at matt at midnightsunak dot com.)
ADN to go to auction
The Alaska Dispatch News is going to auction on Monday under the ongoing bankruptcy process. The Binkley family group is expected to start the bidding at $1 million, equal to the $1 million loan it put in to keep the paper afloat through the process. The group reserved the right to cut off funding the paper at any time, but according to a Thursday filing the group has paid the full $1 million.
There are some other groups that are kicking the tires on the troubled paper, with the most substantiated bidder looking to be Steve Malkowich of Alberta Newspaper Group.
We’ll have a better idea of who’s bidding by the end of today as bidders will have to pony up $1 million by 4 p.m. today to be considered for the process. (The judge never ruled on this requirement) A bidder will have to bid at least $1.2 million to outdo the Binkley’s initial bid. Bidding will be in $100,000 increments.
Here’s how the paper’s 200-plus employees will be treated through the process.
It’s a grim end to Alice Rogoff‘s ownership of the state’s largest paper. Here’s what she had to say through gritted teeth to KTUU reporter (and former Anchorage Daily News all-star) Kyle Hopkins after Thursday’s court hearing.
— Kyle Hopkins (@kylehopkinsAK) September 8, 2017
Navarre for another position
Last week, we reported a rumor that Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre had been offered and turned down the job as commissioner for the Department of Revenue. Since then, Department of Administration Commissioner Sheldon Fisher has been announced as the new revenue commissioner. In the time in between, we’ve been informed that Navarre was more likely to have been offered Fisher’s old job. Either way, it doesn’t sound like the mayor will be joining the Walker administration any time soon.
Speaking of a new revenue commissioner, it sounds like legislators are finally going to get a look at just what Gov. Bill Walker and his allies are planning for the upcoming special session. Word has been a sales tax and permanent fund restructure are on the table, but things could certainly change before now and then depending on what—if anything—legislators might be able to stomach a year before the general elections.
For those familiar with Bernie Karl it’s no surprise that the boisterous Chena Hot Springs Resort owner didn’t need “a damn microphone” at the kickoff fundraiser for Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott this week. Karl’s typically been a solid booster for pro-business Republicans, but he told the audience that Walker has since won his support.
For the man who’s famously never had a bad day in his life, it sounds like an administration helmed by anyone other than Walker could provide for a bad day or two. He reportedly said he plans to spend his grandchildrens’ college savings accounts on the race—probably joking, but you never know—because if Walker doesn’t win their future in Alaska is lost anyways.
He also thinks Walker and Mallott are the only candidates with the “gnads” to deal with the fiscal crisis.
Congratulations are in order to former Department of Resources Commissioner Joe Balash on his successful hearing in front of the Sen. Lisa Murkowski-chaired Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Thursday. Balash has been appointed to serve as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management. Balash, who was Sen. Dan Sullivan‘s chief of staff, got plenty of praise while on the stand and seemed to cut a sensible middle ground on resource development.
Leaked letter woes
Remember that oh-so-scandalous resignation letter of former Senate minority spokesman Frank Ameduri? Well, according to a recent Facebook post by Ameduri there’s plenty in the Senate minority who still do. He said the letter–which was generally (and over-the-top-edly) hailed at the time for “speaking truth to power”–has dogged him ever since, coming up in job interviews. His big beef in bringing the letter back up is the lingering narrative that Ameduri himself leaked the letter. He argues if he really wanted to give the tiny minority a black eye he would’ve done something more bombastic like hold a news conference (or maybe post a tell-all on Facebook).
That said, the general consensus is he didn’t leak the letter and it was probably a staffer.
He may have unintentionally made it easier for the letter to be leaked by sending it via email to legislators’ accounts that are easily accessed by staffers, but he’s right to be upset with a personnel document being leaked. He also, in the recent post, said he let Sen. Berta Gardner even go through his personal and work emails to find the leak. He said she didn’t find anything, but still never went to bat for him.
There’s a lot to unpack here, and a lot of it is sour grapes. The one thing, though, that Ameduri has dead right is the general uselessness of microphone shots. There’s exactly one caucus that does them well, and everyone else should take note or stop wasting their time.
Following the filings
Anchorage Republican Sen. Kevin Meyer FINALLY made official his plans to run for lieutenant governor on Thursday, making official the worst-kept political rumor of the cycle. His filing makes certain his departure from the Legislature, leaving an open seat that both representatives—Reps. Chris Birch and Charisse Millett—are eagerly eyeing.
Both the representatives have been open about their intention to go after the seat, and Birch has already beat Millett to the punch by filing the letter of intent to begin running for the seat. It leaves the question of who’ll get the seat. Will there be a primary race or a friendly agreement?
Word is, some Senate Republicans might prefer Birch over Millett.
Millett’s 2016 challenger Pat Higgins—who got within 100 votes of unseating Millett—is starting to get active for 2018. “Don’t know who I will be running against,” he wrote on Facebook Wednesday. “Lots of rumors but more on that soon.”
Fairbanks is atwitter with the entry of Republican businessman Bart LeBon into the race for the seat currently held by Rep. Scott Kawasaki. Kawasaki is departing to run for the Senate against Sen. Pete Kelly, giving his support to Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblywoman Kathryn Dodge. Dodge is already out campaigning for the seat and has the backing of local progressives John Davies, Linda Schandelmeier and borough assemblyman Andrew Gray.
LeBon brings some heavy hitters from the business community to his campaign. His APOC filing inludes Tom Bartels, Jay Ramras, Gary Wilken, Genevieve Schok, Gary Roderick and Andy Warwick just to name a few. His kickoff fundraiser also had a number of local Republicans including Alaska Republican Party national committeewoman Cynthia Henry and Rep. Steve Thompson.
Also filing APOC letters this week are Reps. Jason Grenn and Jennifer Johnston. Johnston has indicated she’ll run for the House again, while Grenn left his letter blank.