Friday in the Sun (July 6): Fourth of July edition

Friday in the Sun is here

Being a few days late with a recap has never stopped us before, so today’s Friday in the Sun will be mostly dedicated to the weird and fun stuff we’ve heard about from this Fourth of July. There’s reports on candy, horse-drawn carriages and creative floats.

Remember to wear your PFDs.

Adam Berg

We want to take a moment to remember legislative aide Adam Berg, who passed away last week. His funeral was on Thursday and the guest list goes a long way at showing just what an impact he had on the Legislature during more than 20 years working there. The list of elected officials who attended include, but aren’t limited to: Gov. Bill Walker, House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, Sam Kito, Jennifer Johnston, Les Gara, Matt Claman, Lyman Hoffman, Hollis French, Johnny Ellis, Anna MacKinnon, Paul Seaton, Kurt Olson and Dan Saddler as well as too many staffers, lobbyists and others to name.

As Ellis put it “Damn Cancer.”


It seems that most everyone celebrates Anchorage like the rest of the state: By getting outside Anchorage. Details of the day’s festivities proved more difficult to come by than we had planned.

Former Gov. Bill Scheffield was the parade marshall and reportedly got a huge applause. First Lady Donna Walker was also in the parade. We didn’t hear much about legislative candidate presences at the parade as it didn’t make much of an impression on our insiders.

We did hear about a separate Republican party away from the downtown events where Mead Treadwell made an appearance, saying something along the lines of his plans in office would be to: “Pay our bills and get us in the gas business.” The event also featured the largest American flag our insider had ever seen.


As always, Seward was the place to be on the 4th of July.

Gov. Bill Walker (whose campaign boasted had a presence in 15 different parades on the 4th of July) participated via tractor. Mark Begich was also there after a brief appearance at the Anchorage park strip celebrations. Republican Mead Treadwell also made an appearance.

Rep. Paul Seaton, the Republican-turned-independent from Homer, also made an appearance at the parade. Even though it’s a solid three hours away from his hometown, we’re told that most of his constituency was probably partying it up in Seward anyways.

Runner Allie Ostrander also earned herself the title of “The Mark Begich of Mount Marathon” by keeping everyone guessing about her entrance into the Mount Marathon race until the last moments. The polling must’ve been bad, though, because she didn’t get in.


In the race for House District 33 (downtown Juneau, Douglas, Haines and other areas), Tom Morphet reportedly had the best candy and enthusiastic support from the crowd, Steve Handy had mermaids and “people seemed happy to see him” and Sara Hannan reportedly didn’t have much of a presence. That’s most of the Democratic field there. Meanwhile, independent candidate Chris Dimond had a “huge, enthusiastic group.”

At one point Don Etheridge was spotted running to catch up to his parade group, which was admirable given the heat.

People must have really been in the parade mood as even Mike Dunleavy was apparently able to muster some 50 volunteers for the parade. They reportedly got a pretty lukewarm reception in Juneau.

Still, the biggest parade groups were fielded by Senate candidate Jesse Kiehl and the Walker/Mallott campaign (they were marching separately). The lack of any Mark Begich presence was surprising.


By our insider’s estimation, about half of the Chugiak parade was political in nature. That’s because every one of the area’s legislative seats save for Rep. Cathy Tilton’s House District 12 has a contested Republican primary.

In the race for Senate, both Reps. Lora Reinbold and Dan Saddler were out in force, but it was Reinbold that fielded the more impressive contingent complete with multiple types of vehicles and–no joke–a white carriage pulled by two horses.

(Reinbold for Alaska)

In the contested House race scene, Craig Christensen fielded the biggest group for House District 13 race. In House District 14 primary both Kelly Merrick and Jamie Allard fielded good-sized groups.

Dunleavy made a personal appearance at the parade, which was one of two parades he participated on that day, and seven that his crew made an appearance at. His contingent was pretty impressive by our insider’s opinion, especially the big ol’ offroad machines that were part of the parade.


The Wasilla parade was more low-key according to our insider who attended both. The Dunleavy group was biggest here with some 70 volunteers at the event (we heard about 300 statewide) and it was his second personal appearance of the day.

Overall, it was a far larger parade than the Chugiak parade so the overall density of political floats was far lower.


Only a handful of Fairbanks candidates showed up to the celebration at Pioneer Park. The biggest showings came from Democrats Rep. Scott Kawasaki and Van Lawrence, who’s challenging Rep. Steve Thompson. Multiple other candidates were no-shows.

Grier Hopkins, the Democrat running for House District 5, is not only looking to step into his uncle’s office, but also his uncle’s Uncle Sam costume. Hopkins donned Rep. David Guttenberg’s traditional Uncle Sam costume for the quirky Ester Parade, which has previously included awards for things like the best use of vegetables and in 2017 had an award for best bribe of the judges.

(Grier for State House)

We heard his Republican opponent, Jim Sackett, got a lukewarm response from the crowd. But it’s still pretty admirable that he showed up at all.

North Pole

Over in North Pole, there was yet another volunteer-driven Mike Dunleavy parade presence. North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward, who’s still by all accounts the only person seriously considering a run for the mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough (which has the general consensus of “Worst Job”) this fall, had a big presence at the parade.

But none could outdo Rep. Tammie Wilson, the city’s uncontested Republican, who put together a “Never Forget 9/11” float in honor of first responders complete with rubble and costumed children.

(Tammie Wilson)

Odds and ends

Mark Begich and Bill Walker will both be in Anchorage next Wednesday. Walker’s holding a fundraiser “An Evening on the Coastal Trail,” which the campaign says is its biggest campaign event of the year from 5 to 7 p.m. that night. Meanwhile at 5:30 p.m. that night Begich will be holding a “Crime Town Hall.”

The following day, Begich will be holding his kick-off fundraiser, which might go a long way to explaining why the former U.S. senator has not had a huge campaign presence in the last month. Not to be outdone by Walker’s lengthy co-host lists, Begich’s kick off has somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 names.


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