Friday in the Sun (Nov. 2): The ‘Evening in the Sun’ edition

Friday in the Sun is here

Welcome to the latest and sometimes greatest round-up of Alaska political gossip and rumor. As always, use your brain and have a little bit of salt to go along with these unsubstantiated rumors.

And, hey, tune into KTVA’s Frontiers this Sunday to see your humble editor’s uncomfortable body language alongside the Anchorage Daily News’ Tom Hewitt talk about the race.

The debate to end the state

KTVA hosted the final major gubernatorial debate before the election on Thursday night, and while it didn’t get nearly the attention as KTUU/Alaska Public Media’s debate last week it was definitely worth watching. The biggest winner of the night was moderator Joe Vigil, who proved all the TV haters wrong with some excellent and surprisingly thoughtful questions.

The format also allowed him to challenge Mike Dunleavy and Mark Begich, like this exchange:

The general takeaway from the debate was: “Oh, that’s why Dunleavy has avoided so many debates.” It didn’t go great for the 6’7” Republican who seemed to lose most of his advantage on the PFD, have most of his budget claims debunked (the exchange over the 2,000 vacancies in state government was rough) and multiple “I don’t know” answers. We got the feeling that Dunleavy knows he’s losing ground, on the PFD in particular, and his last great hope, it seems, is to tie Mark Begich to Ballot Measure 1 (and its $12 million+ of advertising opposing it).

It turns out that maybe buddying up Dunleavy with Sen. Bill Wielechowski didn’t go exactly as hoped. There hadn’t been a whole lot of attention on Dunleavy’s mixed voting record when it came to the PFD in the Legislature, but it’s certainly out there now thanks to an irate Wielechowski. Binding caucuses, huh?

(On that note, it’ll be interesting to see what legislators who’ll be up in 2020, like Sen. David Wilson, do when it comes to organizing especially when Sens. Mike Shower and Shelley Hughes have already said “Thanks, but no thanks” to taking marching orders from the Republicans. Can’t imagine Sen. Lora Reinbold would be game either.)

Begich once again brought his usual polish to the debate, as well as some good stingers like his response to the 2,000 empty positions line Dunleavy’s built his budget around: “I guarantee the Senate, especially with Pete Kelly at the lead, would have found that money and used it some way.”

To which Dunleavy boldly responded “We’re not sure where that money is going,” which garnered an incredulous “How can people not know where the money is going?” from Vigil.

Revisionist history

Speaking of Republicans who know they’re in trouble, it looks like everything’s going fine in Senate President Pete Kelly’s re-election bid according to this billboard a reader sent in:

Everything’s FINE.

We’ve heard throughout the race that Rep. Scott Kawasaki is really giving Kelly a run for his money and that Kelly’s essentially be caught flat-footed after not having particularly difficult matchups in 2012 and 2014. That anyone was caught by surprise by Kawasaki’s campaigning should itself come as a surprise given Kawasaki’s easy batting away of every challenger the GOP could throw at him.

As for the billboard, it’s pretty notable that Kelly, who was a key player in shaping the Legislature’s PFD-cutting fiscal plan this year (at the very least providing the mocking laughter), is now promising a full PFD. Don’t forget that earlier this year Kelly said adding the PFD to the Alaska Constitution was “problematic,” saying “the biggest roadblocks it (Wielechowski’s SJR 1) has is it enshrines a government check in the constitution.”

That’s not the only bit of revisionist history at play in the race.

Another reader (and, for the record, not anyone involved with either campaign) brought up Kelly’s answer from a recent forum at UAF. There, Kelly argued that the whole Senate hold up with Bree’s Law was simply because of some budget issues, which is why it had to make an extra stop in the Senate Finance Committee (where Bree’s parents were subjected to plenty of finger wagging).

The problem? (Beside the other evidence that suggests much of the hold was more of a personal grudge against the Moores) The bill had a zero fiscal note throughout the process. It only got a price tag once it arrived in the Senate Finance Committee.

Sign vandalism

Kelly’s signs aren’t the only ones getting some updates, but the ones made to Sen. Peter Miccihe’s signs aren’t the good kind. Sign vandalism is always a problem, but it sounds like things have reached a new height for the Soldotna Republican, who barely survived his primary.

According to a post on Facebook, Micciche said he’s lost 32 of 4’x8’ signs to vandals or straight-up theft. At a cost of $120 per sign, he says it’s cost the campaign $3,600 (plus the dozens of sandbags.)

Maybe he should connect with Republican candidate Jim Sackett, who spent $159.98 at the Anchorage Cabelas (is Fairbanks’ Sportsman’s Warehouse not good enough? Though, I guess he is a Cabela’s guy after all) for a “battery operated security camera & locking case for remote operation to catch sign vandals trashing campaign signs.”


That’s the average daily income the Begich campaign has seen since Gov. Bill Walker suspended his campaign on Oct. 19. The Democrat has seen a… um… wave of contributions since the race became a head-to-head battle, tallying a whopping $290,860.75 (about 40 percent of his total contributions) in that time.

Meanwhile, the Trump endorsement didn’t translate into any kind of bump for Dunleavy. His fundraising since Walker suspended his campaign is a grand total of $77,332.28 that came at a daily average of $8,592.48.

We don’t’ have a great look at how Hillary Clinton’s endorsement played for Begich because it happened after the end of the reporting period. We are, however, into the 24-hour reporting period where anything above $250 has to be reported. Begich didn’t see any uptick on the day that Clinton made her endorsement, but Begich has had back-to-back $20,000-plus days on Halloween and Nov. 1.

Independent Expenditures

The fundraising of the individual campaigns of course only paints a small portion of the overall picture, especially when the Dunleavy campaign has been more than happy to abdicate a majority of typical campaign activity to the Dunleavy for Alaska independent expenditure group.

We did a quick rundown of where independent expenditures targeting candidates currently stand. One takeaway is that progressive-leaning independent expenditures sure don’t get up to Fairbanks very much. Independent expenditures going after Interior Democrats has generally outpaced any support from those groups (poor Rep. Adam Wool, who has $0 in IE support while he’s been targeted by more than $50,000 in expenditures by Republican State Leadership Committee proxy group Interior Voters.)

Here’s a look:

CandidateTotal SpendSupportsOpposes
2018 - Michael J. Dunleavy$5,204,845.18$3,242,192.49$1,962,652.69
2018 - Bill Walker$1,669,632.82$973,493.83$696,138.99
2018 - Mark Begich$1,772,559.05$660,277.67$1,112,281.38
2018 - Peter Gene Kelly$229,161.55$191,696.10$37,465.45
2018 - Scott Kawasaki$214,885.07$43,974.51$170,910.56
2018 - JASON GRENN$179,700.27$133,354.75$46,345.52
2018 - Jim Colver$109,240.69$81,507.25$27,733.44
2018 - Joshua C. Revak$104,850.61$91,621.55$13,229.06
2018 - Kathryn Dodge$100,955.82$51,181.91$49,773.91
2018 - Mead Treadwell$70,550.00$70,550.00$0.00
2018 - Kevin Gerald Meyer$70,086.55$70,086.55$0.00
2018 - Adam Wool$52,890.92$0.00$52,890.92
2018 - Sarah Vance$51,543.27$51,543.27$0.00
2018 - Pat Higgins$47,478.71$35,816.21$11,662.50
2018 - Jamie D. Allard$43,144.14$25,978.73$17,165.41
2018 - Paul Seaton$42,745.08$14,804.77$27,940.31
2018 - Liz Snyder$41,192.88$29,511.88$11,681.00
2018 - Gabrielle R LeDoux$40,642.92$39,647.92$995.00
2018 - Don R Etheridge$38,220.65$38,220.65$0.00
2018 - Nancy Anne Dahlstrom$34,780.74$34,780.74$0.00
2018 - Lance Pruitt$31,399.88$9,005.70$22,394.18
2018 - George Rauscher$28,541.49$19,541.49$9,000.00
2018 - Andrea "Andi" Story$27,920.87$27,920.87$0.00
2018 - Louise B Stutes$27,548.55$8,000.00$19,548.55
2018 - Kevin M McKinley$24,423.78$24,423.78$0.00
2018 - Chuck Kopp$24,392.68$23,112.68$1,280.00
2018 - Barton S. LeBon$21,515.54$21,515.54$0.00
2018 - Jesse Kiehl$19,922.12$13,476.93$6,445.19
2018 - Daniel H Ortiz (Dan)$19,275.00$19,275.00$0.00
2018 - Matt Claman$16,953.37$7,543.59$9,409.78
2018 - Sara Rasmussen$14,749.82$14,711.62$38.20
2018 - Mia Costello$12,431.61$12,431.61$0.00
2018 - Chris Dimond$11,049.55$11,049.55$0.00
2018 - Lyn Diane Franks$10,464.35$10,464.35$0.00
2018 - Marilyn Stewart$9,559.78$9,559.78$0.00
2018 - RICHARD WALKER$8,480.63$8,480.63$0.00
2018 - Ed Alexander$7,718.54$7,718.54$0.00
2018 - Sara Hannan$7,666.54$7,666.54$0.00
2018 - Laddie Shaw$6,222.25$6,222.25$0.00
2018 - KELLY MERRICK$6,115.58$5,965.58$150.00
2018 - Dustin Thomas House Darden$5,767.71$0.00$5,767.71
2018 - Tiffany Zulkosky$4,280.64$4,280.64$0.00
2018 - Jake Sloan$4,004.27$4,004.27$0.00
2018 - Joe Riggs$3,650.00$3,650.00$0.00
2018 - Shawn A Butler$3,586.55$3,586.55$0.00
2018 - Andrew Louis Josephson$3,478.53$3,478.53$0.00
2018 - Ivy Spohnholz$3,478.53$3,478.53$0.00
2018 - Elvi Gray-Jackson$3,411.77$3,411.77$0.00
2018 - Albert Fogle$3,191.35$0.00$3,191.35
2018 - Peter A. Micciche$1,456.71$1,456.71$0.00
2018 - William Z "Zack" Fields$1,079.23$1,079.23$0.00
2018 - Debra Lynn Call$1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Geran Tarr$1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Grier Hopkins$1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Harriet A. Drummond$1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Janice Park$1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Joe Hackenmueller$1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins$1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Oliver Schiess$1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Sam Cason$1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Gloria S. "Sue" Levi $1,059.55$1,059.55$0.00
2018 - Amber Marie Lee$1,059.54$1,059.54$0.00
2018 - Jerry Nankervis$975.00$975.00$0.00
2018 - Jim Sackett$521.52$521.52$0.00
2018 - Charisse E Millett$483.73$0.00$483.73
2018 - Chris Birch$483.73$0.00$483.73
2018 - DeLena Johnson$483.73$0.00$483.73
2018 - Bekah Halat$483.73$483.73$0.00
2018 - Edna DeVries$483.73$483.73$0.00
2018 - William Weatherby$455.00$455.00$0.00
2018 - Michael K Shower$405.00$405.00$0.00
2018 - Van Lawrence$236.56$236.56$0.00
2018 - Steve M. Thompson$189.50$189.50$0.00
2018 - Connie Dougherty$100.00$100.00$0.00

Shady disclosure

Rep. Les Gara is on the warpath over the latest series of ads by Republican Governors Association proxy group Families for Alaska’s Future. The group already got dinged by APOC in a complaint brought by the Walker group, and now Gara is arguing that their garbled disclosure at the end of ads violates the state’s disclosure laws. Judge for yourself:

Blogger Dermot Cole has a great breakdown of why this should probably fall short of the state’s disclosure laws.


While Begich has seen some good news in polling (and we should mention, we’ve heard it’s not just Ivan Moore polls), the general consensus is that it’s still largely Dunleavy’s race to lose to which conservative ad makers have said: “Hold my beer.”

First, there’s the pretty gross ad by the Alaska Republican Party claiming Begich was born with silver spoon in hand (a claim that runs over video footage of the Democrat talking about his father’s death). Tom Begich, Mark Begich’s older brother, quickly penned an editorial for us that laid out the real story of their upbringing (Which, truth be told, sounds a heckuva lot like the life experience of your humble editor’s great grandparents. My great grandfather died unexpectedly young and left my great grandmother to scrimp and scrounge, running a junk shop in the Sacramento area, and raise my grandmother and her siblings. Absolutely nothing about it was silver spoon-y).

Then, as if mixing death and politics wasn’t enough, another brain genius decides to cut an YouTube video titled “What Would Uncle Ted Say?” Going on to throw out just a putrid and partisan bashing of Begich while poorly aping the late Ted Stevens. Classy.

Big fish

Speaking of independent expenditures, the extra months between the primary and the general election have allowed the total spend on the salmon habitat initiative to surpass what was spent on the 2014 referendum of the state’s oil tax law. The Juneau Empire broke down the spending this week, noting that “a spread of small fry have joined the spending spree.”

Shakes fist at ice cream aisle

Local races

We’ve paid an embarrassingly little amount of attention to the legislative races this season, but luckily many of our readers are working hard to keep us informed. Here are a few of the bigger things to come across our radar:

  • Republican candidate for House District 21 Marilyn Stewart’s name popped up in the ongoing lawsuit wrongful termination lawsuit with the Alaska Police Department. According to Steve over at the What do I Know blog, who’s been doing daily coverage of the lawsuit, Nancy Usera didn’t have particularly nice things to say about the former Office of Equal Opportunity director, saying she was “Very problematic for MOA.”
  • There’s been a lot of digging into Imperial Independent Media, a firm that’s done campaign communications for plenty of conservative candidates, including Sara Rasmussen, Jerry Nankervis, Kelly Merrick, Anthony Lekanof, Connie! Dougherty, Lance Pruitt and Don Etheridge. The firm made news in Seattle for working with a “fake radical feminist group” trying to stir up some transphobia and its managing partner, Zachary Freeman, was connected with a lawsuit over the release of the names of employees the University of Washington’s Birth Defects Research Center to anti-abortion activists. Those activities also just so happen to be the folks behind those misleading “sting” videos claiming Planned Parenthood reaped massive profits off selling fetal tissue.
  • Republican candidate William Weatherby’s legal history and questionable online advice has also been making the circuits again. We had a rundown of most of this earlier this year.
  • And, finally, to mix things up. There’s a tape going around of Democrat Pat Higgins talking off the cuff with some folks during a campaign event where he’s talking trash about his Republican opponent Josh Revak. It’s not the most withering hit piece in the world, but suffice it to say Higgins’ regard of Revak isn’t particularly high.

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