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.
Per diem politics
No wonder the Republicans in the House Minority were so intent on pivoting away from per diem questions at Thursday’s news conference. According to a KTVA report, House Minority Leader Charisse Millett tallied the most per diem of any legislator during the two special sessions with $14,160. Her fellow minority members weren’t far behind.
The list of top five per diem takers in the House is rounded out by minority Reps. Dan Saddler and Mike Chenault at $12,095, majority Rep. Neal Foster at $11,800 and ultra-conservative minority Rep. David Eastman at $11,505.
Five legislators have claimed no per diem during the special sessions. Those include majority Reps. Jason Grenn, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Justin Parrish and Scott Kawasaki, and Sen. Shelley Hughes. Hughes was a member of the Senate majority before leaving over a budget vote.
The whole list is funny, but not haha funny.
#akleg #juneau #perdiem pic.twitter.com/KG1bqri6UH
— Cale Green (@CaleHGreen) July 14, 2017
There was a minor correction to the original chart:
Correction #excelproblems reorganized some cells/order of the names fixed now. Here r correct break downs between these groups pic.twitter.com/qz56GiocXH
— Cale Green (@CaleHGreen) July 14, 2017
More gossip on the Grenn recall
It sounds like the Sand Lake Community Council was the incubator for the recall effort against Rep. Jason Grenn. The council has been recently taken over by a slate of conservative folks.
Its president Nikki Rose was a signer on the improperly filed recall petition. The council’s vice president is Hans Rodvik, an aide to Rep. Charisse Millett who pushed the guns on campus bill as an intern to Sen. John Coghill. Talk is Rodvik could be a potential Republican challenger to Grenn. Former Rep. Liz Vazquez, who used to hold Grenn’s seat, also holds some positions on the council.
The council has also apparently not been particularly kind to Grenn. His legislative call-ins have become grilling Q&A sessions and he’s been hung up on so he can’t listen to the rest of the meetings.
Latest on 2018 elections
There’s not a lot of news out of the APOC filings this week. Rep. Louise Stutes has filed to run again for the House, closing off the fun speculation we had last week with the blank letters of intent.
Still, there’s word going around about the next year plans of some big-name Republicans.
Apparently, Mead Treadwell is considering running for governor. He’ll have to do a bit better than his 2014 Senate bid where he fizzled out well before the primary and tallied less than a quarter of the vote.
There’s talk that former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan is seriously exploring a challenge to Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.
And of the many senators who could be running for governor, Senate President Pete Kelly is now likely to stay in the Senate. Unclear if that changes Rep. Scott Kawasaki‘s plans to challenge him. It sounded like Kawasaki was a sure-fire bet if the seat was vacated. We’re likely to hear definitive plans once this miserable session comes to an end.
Box office bump-in
Speaking of gubernatorial candidates, Gov. Bill Walker and his wife, Donna, ran into former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and former Anchorage Sen. Johnny Ellis at the movies over the weekend. Bill and Donna were seeing “Wonder Woman.” Begich and Ellis were headed in to see “Baby Driver.”
There’s word that Eagle River Rep. Lora Reinbold is hoping for a new seat in the House. She doesn’t want to sit next to Rep. David Eastman, apparently. Eastman, who’s alleged Alaska Native women get pregnant so they can get free trips to Anchorage, has cemented himself as even more of a right-wing conservative than Reinbold. Perhaps she’s looking for some room to shine.
A new political action committee is in the works with the broad goal of kicking out incumbents in the Legislature, regardless of their political affiliation and performance. With the Legislature nearing an unprecedented 180 days in continuous session, the Legislature is doing a pretty good job of that themselves.
Also on the political action committee front, the Alaska Dispatch News reports the formation of two new PACs related to health insurance and Medicaid. This blog’s owner is involved with both efforts, which seem to be setting the groundwork for potential initiatives related to both issues. In a sign of editorial independence, this is all news to me.
I know that Lora Reinbold drove around Juneau before the session started in December in search of the cheapest place to rent during the session(s). Since she gets $7,000.00 in monthly per diem, I find it odd that she looks for the absolute cheapest place to stay (except maybe a trailer in Switzer Village).