Friday in the Sun (June 29)

Friday in the Sun is here

It’s been a tumultuous week, but hopefully there’s always some room to sit back and enjoy some entirely unsubstantiated rumor and political gossip.

A crummy week

Yesterday, the world of a lot of journalists came to a shocking halt as news broke of the Capital Gazette shooting (honestly, it kind of sidelined my regular work for this post). As the story of the shooter emerged–a man who hated the paper for reporting on his criminal harassment conviction–rang scarily true for me and a lot of reporters I know, particularly those who cover crime and courts. I’ve seen a lot of personal stories posted to social media that recognize the ingredients of that shooting aren’t too far off from many of us have experienced.

My parents once implored me to start wearing body armor to public meetings after I got threats while covering my first election, which were tame compared to the threats some of my colleagues, particularly the women, would see in their inboxes or hear in their voicemails.

We’ve walked each other to cars and kept an ear out for disgruntled newsroom interactions.

Life as a journalist is largely thankless and increasingly disheartening in a world filled with more and more vile derision and dehumanizing comments direct from the president and his cronies. Some will certainly take any issue with placing any blame at his behavior, but words–and particularly words from people in power–have consequences.

I have no idea what else to say in a time like this other than to please remember that–no matter what the president and his cronies say–journalists are people. They’re people who care immensely about their communities, particularly at small newspapers. We want to see things work out, we want to see the best happen for the communities that we live in, we feel shitty when we get it wrong and we want the people who mess our communities up to be held accountable.

Attacks on local newspapers are an attack on the community itself. In the meantime, consider subscribing to your local paper or pledging to your local radio station.

A tale of two fundraisers

Gov. Bill Walker held his much-anticipated fundraiser hosted by an all-star list of Alaska Native leaders on Thursday of this week (sorry for the boneheaded misreading of tips last week, I am not, in fact, a time traveller). First, it’s hard to overstate just how big of a deal the host list from the event is. Those are some significant and important people in the Alaska Native community that put their support behind Walker and Mallott.

Next, we can actually report that the attendance of the fundraiser was smashing with more than 100 people attending the event that was held at the home of Georgianna Lincoln and Chris Cooke, with many flying in for the event. Georgianna Lincoln and Rep. John Lincoln gave the introductory speeches, representing the older and younger generation of leaders, and Rep. Lincoln reportedly said it was hearing Walker talk that got him interested in seeking office (he was appointed by Walker this year and is now running for his first election).

The attendance and audience sounds a lot like reports from Walker fundraisers in both Juneau and Fairbanks: the sort of crowd that Democrat Mark Begich would probably like to see at one of his events.

Speaking of which, on Thursday night Begich held a fundraiser down in Juneau at the local IBEW union hall where about 45 people attended. It was reportedly a pretty good event, just maybe not as well-attended as the previous Walker one.

It seems like a lot of key supporters are galvanizing in recent weeks, and a decent portion of the support seems to be going Walker’s way (even though polling suggests regular voters might feel differently). Still most people will be watching to see where the unions put their chips–and fundraising bucks–in this race.

Landfield in politics

We knew we forgot something last week. Alaska Landmine editor Jeff Landfield is now the head of the pro-Josh Revak independent expenditure group. Revak is the combat-wounded veteran running against Rep. Charisse Millett in the Republican primary. The group has the backing of former lodge owner Mel Gillis to the tune of a cool $30,000, a pretty enormous sum for a state House race.

The mouthpiece of the Alaska Republican Party took issue with new job for the “provocateur,” posting, among other things a picture of Landfield in his trademark Speedo (which at this point has got to be a point of pride for the guy) as well as highlighting some of Landfield’s crappy posts along with the name of his boss and workplace.

It’s pretty much an expected post between the two feuding blogs, which has apparently included attempts to go after Landfield’s advertisers. Wither way, I guess an election year isn’t complete without Landfield.

Fun under the Midnight Sun

Rep. Scott Kawasaki and former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell were spotted along the course of the Midnight Sun Run in Fairbanks this past weekend, as well as a Mike Dunleavy water table that a lot of runners seemed to be steering clear of. Rep. Adam Wool also was spotted running the race, finishing in a respectable 1:01:30, with his daughter who finished in 1:01:17.

Polling party

We’ve heard tips that more polling on the governor’s race will come out in the next week and have been told that it might look quite a bit different than the numbers we saw in this week’s poll by the Alaska Correctional Officer’s Association that showed Republican front-runner Mike Dunleavy on top of the three-way race.

And while plenty of people looked at the ACOA poll with the takeaway being that third-place finisher Gov. Bill Walker should consider dropping out, one friend of the blog pointed raised the question of just where Walker’s votes might go if he drops out. Would they all go to the Democrat? The Republican? Or split somewhere in between? Then ask the same question if Begich were to drop out.

Campaign season

Candidates are out in force on their door-knocking season, and this one from Liz Snyder is simply the best.


Last week, we reported that we had heard Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux was knocking on the doors of some Democrats asking them to consider switching registration to support her in the Republican primary. We’ve heard continued talk about this, with some wondering just how permissible this activity is and. We checked and didn’t really get a clear answer. State law specifically bars registrars or anyone else from filling out the party affiliation line for anyone else, and that’s about all we could find on the matter.

Redemption, of sorts

Begich got dinged by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for his claim that the FBI labelled Alaska “the most dangerous state” in the country because the FBI makes no such rankings, but at least he can point to U.S. News and World Report’s Best State Rankings that put Alaska dead last in terms of crime and corrections, and the economy. The crime and corrections ranking isn’t just about public safety, but also the fairness of the prison systems and racial bias. When broken out, Alaska is 49th for public safety (ahead of just New Mexico) and 36 in corrections.

Alaska also is in the bottom rankings for education, infrastructure and fiscal stability. Alaska does rank fifth in opportunity, however, carried by its second-place ranking in economic opportunity (while it ranks 18 in equality and 46 in affordability).

Sweeney confirmed

Tara Sweeney was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, making her the first Alaska Native to hold the position. Congratulations.


Speaking of crime, Palmer Sen. Shelley Hughes’ son was put in the hospital by a hit-and-run last week. Hughes, who I’ve always found to be one of the more straightforward legislators, commendably handled some of the responses, including one that seemed to pin the blame for her son’s condition on her vote for Senate Bill 91. What a world.

Now that’s service

The city of North Pole is having its annual July 4 celebration next week. One reader pointed out that the flier says for more information to just give Mayor Bryce Ward a call, which is some real dedication. Maybe that’s also why Ward is pretty much the only person anyone expects to run for mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, a job that one local politician said “is the worst job imaginable” (though Rep. Tammie Wilson, who’s run for it twice, will certainly have the time as she’s uncontested in this year’s legislative race).

Job opening

The Anchorage Daily News is hiring. Talented political reporter Nat Herz left the publication earlier this month to move over to radio. The posting on Journalism Jobs doesn’t specifically mention it being for a political reporter that’d fill Herz’s shoes, but instead is simply looking for multiple “reporters with smarts, curiosity and a strong understanding of online news.”

Endorsement round-up

Alyse Galvin, the independent candidate seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for Congress, got the endorsement of NEA-Alaska. The endorsement by the state’s largest teachers union isn’t all that surprising given Galvin’s background as a key organizer of Great Alaska Schools, a very active pro-schools group that’s put enormous pressure on Juneau in recent years.

According to a news release that hit our inboxes a while ago, Cliff Groh has the endorsements of Steve Lindbeck (who ran for Congress on the Democratic Party’s ticket in 2016), former House Speaker Terry Gardiner, Janet Bidwell and Alan Mitchell. Groh was the third Democrat to enter the primary for former Rep. Les Gara’s House District 20 seat.

Begich got the endorsement of former Gov. Tony Knowles.

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