Friday in the Sun (Nov. 11)

Friday in the Sun is here
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.

Definitive proof

Party Republicans have long accused Gov. Bill Walker of being a secret Democrat, and now there’s 100 percent, unassailable proof that the pro-life, parental rights-supporting and regressive tax-backing governor has been a dirty Democrat all along.

Tonight, he’ll be hosting a fundraiser at Bobby’s restaurant up in Fairbanks.

Everyone up in Fairbanks knows that all good Democrats host their fundraisers, election parties and birthday parties at the ritzy (at least for Fairbanks) Greek restaurant. Might as well just sign up for the Alaska Democratic Party’s primary now.

Back to basics

Newspaper owner Ryan Binkley teased big changes for the Alaska Dispatch News while giving an address to the Resource Development Council this week, telling attendees to expect a new look and, oh, even maybe a new name this weekend. The anticipation was cut short when the paper’s Facebook page jumped the gun and updated its name to the Anchorage Daily News.

The Facebook page followed it up with a new blue logo and a short explanation: “You may have noticed we’ve changed the name of our Facebook page. It’s not a mistake: We are changing our name back to the Anchorage Daily News starting this weekend. It’s a big change and it’s a somewhat complicated process. While the name change won’t be official on all our platforms, including the newspaper, until Sunday, our friends here are getting an early preview. Look for more changes in the coming days. As always, thanks for reading!”

It’s an expected move given the new owners’ desire to move on from the Alice Rogoff (who accused GCI head Ron Duncan and the Binkleys of conspiring together to force her out of business in a Columbia Journalism Review article) dream of a dominant statewide paper and focus on a more Anchorage-centric operation.

One of Rogoff’s claims from the CJR article is that Duncan and the Binkley family are keen on turning the paper into a conservative propaganda machine. Binkley of course disputed this, but he’s at least telling the business community at the RDC what they’d like to hear when he said the paper would bring back balanced opinion pieces.

In and out

Well-respected (at least in journalism circles) journalist Rich Mauer is reportedly out of a job just a week after joining KTVA. There’s been plenty of talk about why he’s left—most relating to the station’s decision to run a story about Sen. David Wilson’s latest alleged bad behavior in the halls of the capitol, which KTVA reporter Liz Raines encountered first hand—but no definitive answers and most of it smacks of conservative attempts to discredit the entire story as liberal media fake news. Having a reporter go on TV to give her first-hand report of something like that is no small matter and given KTVA’s roots (see above) isn’t something the station took lightly.

Regardless of the reason for Mauer’s departure, there’s hope (again, at least in journalism circles) he’ll find a job in the media before too long. Mauer is talented at making Alaska’s political figures rightfully uncomfortable.

Legislative council

Speaking about alleged bad behavior in the capitol, Legislative Council is set to meet next Tuesday with an agenda that includes its records policy, its “legal priority policy,” establishing a sexual harassment policy working group (because who doesn’t like working groups to address problems that you’ve known about for six months) and a legislative legal budget discussion. It also has an executive session (if necessary) where certain legislators may be able to see a certain security tape of a certain alleged action.

We’re still not certain anyone will get to see the tapes as word has been that the Senate leadership has been reluctant to let anyone see it. We wonder why. Also unless something wild happens, don’t expect to see the tape popping up on YouTube anytime soon. A legal case, however, might change things.

On the front of the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy, we sure hope legislators won’t be taking advice from the mouthpiece of the Alaska Republican Party, which wrote off the alleged harassment because, apparently it doesn’t count as an upskirt if the victim is wearing leggings.

And then there was one fewer

Republican Sen. Mike Dunleavy has officially suspended his gubernatorial campaign in an email to supporters. The towering senator suspended his campaign earlier this year due to health concerns, but has since been improving. Though there was plenty of doubts about the candidate’s ability to run for governor within the party, Dunleavy at least offered a clear-cut outsider choice compared to his party-line colleagues.

DC shuffle

Matt Shuckerow, the communications director for Alaska Rep. Don Young, announced this week that he’s heading over to Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan‘s office, where he’ll be deputy communications director and spokesman. Young will be bringing on Murphy McCollough as his new press secretary. McCollough is currently the deputy press secretary for Texas Republican Rep. John Culberson.

Palin sighting

Sarah Palin was reportedly sighted hanging around the U.S. Capitol this week, where she was reportedly meeting with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. It was an opportunity for reporters to pepper her with questions about sexual harassment allegations, to which she said: “I think a whole lot of people know I’m probably packing so I don’t think there’s a whole lot of people who would necessarily mess with me.”

Though those are the words that caught headlines, Palin did elaborate saying sexual harassment is “not a partisan issue.”

“I don’t mean to be lighthearted, this is a serious issue,” Palin continued. “It really stinks for women in the workplace that for too long, men have thought they can get away with that old-school thinking that it’s okay to belittle and harass women.”

Gross

That’s the first word that comes to mind after reading Washington Post opinion writer Kathleen Parker’s editorial “The GOP tries to trade polar bears for tax cuts” wherein she compares child molester Roy Moore to the latest efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“That a few Republicans would sacrifice even a square inch of the Arctic unnecessarily for the profit of a political victory is, frankly, as stomach-turning as the image of a tighty-whitey-wearing Roy Moore pawing a 14-year-old. Surely, there’s a better way to make a buck — and a better soul to warm Sessions’s seat.”

Legislator flights

A certain far-right conservative representative who was spotted flying first class on his way to Juneau has since been spotted just flying in the lowly premium section of the Anchorage to Juneau flight. He was reportedly seen reading “Confrontational politics,” which has some hot tips on how to “confront and defeat the effort of the political left to change the American system of government into one resembling the socialist welfare states of the rest of the world.” Go get ’em, boys!

Legislature departure

Rep. Paul Seaton‘s hard-working and well-liked legislative aide Taneeka Hansen, who’s done the yeoman’s work on an array of complicated issues during her time in the Legislature, got a nice send off this week as she heads off to pursue higher education. Best of luck.

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