Monday in the Sun: The ‘I think we should respect (Alaska Native languages), but…’ edition

Friday in the Sun is here

Most newspapers and outlets have a general policy against doing any major political coverage in the final hours of a race to avoid big surprises that campaigns can’t effectively respond to in time, but, hey, we’re a political news blog. Still, I can’t help but feel the tug of my former editors at my shoulder so we’ve combined everything we’ve heard over the weekend into a supplemental edition of Friday in the Sun.

Walker votes for Begich

Independent Gov. Bill Walker went to the poll on Friday to cast his early vote, which he told reporters afterward was for Democrat Mark Begich. His endorsement support is just as tepid as it’s turned out to be all along, telling reporters that he’s not actually all that supportive of the Democrat.

“I don’t align with (Begich) on everything, obviously, that’s why I have not given him an endorsement,” Walker said, according to the ADN. “But I certainly think that he is better for Alaska than Dunleavy is.”

He repeated his similarly grudging support for the former U.S. senator when he went up to Fairbanks over the weekend, where he visited with Fairbanks Local Union 375 Plumbers and Pipefitters. His support for Begich, he said, is mostly due to his opposition to Republican Mike Dunleavy.

“I was very clear in my statement of my withdrawal that I’m very concerned about the damage that Mike Dunleavy would do to Alaska and that’s why I did what I did, to make sure it was a two-way competitive race,” Walker said, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Though a lot of people would have you think that Begich and Walker get along because they both oppose Dunleavy, that’s all on the surface. From what we’ve heard the two men really dislike each other on a personal level (some of the early talks between the campaign were particularly nasty) and these recent exchanges fit into that narrative. Still, it’s even more remarkable that Walker has put that aside.

After all, that’s what he said when he suspended his campaign: “Alaska before me.”

Alaska as English-only

We received a few angry messages about our decision to publish Amanda Frank’s guest editorial “We are not pawns” that took issue with Mike Dunleavy’s platform for rural Alaska and Alaska Natives to seem to consist largely of “My wife is Alaska Native.” To be clear, Frank’s was far from the first Alaska Native woman to take issue with the Republican’s performance at AFN and other forums.

To many, 19 years in Koyuk and Kotzebue don’t really do much to comfort people living in rural Alaska when your positions include a consolidation of villages schools into a boarding school system or that English should be the state’s official language.

Oh, yeah, that second part was uncovered after a clip of Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Kevin Meyer began circulating this weekend, where the Anchorage state senator suggests English should be a requirement for attending public schools. The clip was obviously edited down, so we found the full clip here:

And the full quote:

“I talked about this a little bit when I talked about education and the frustration that the teachers have, well one of the frustrations is that there’s 95 languages of kids coming into the school. So before these people send their kids to our school—that we pay for—they need to learn and promote learning English before you send your kid to our schools,” Meyer said. “We can’t, we shouldn’t have to have a teacher hired just to help the two or three kids who haven’t learned the English language yet. That should be a requirement. Yes, this is an English-speaking state—excuse me, country—and if you want to live in this state and this country then you should speak our language.”

We also saw that sitting next to him at the forum was Dunleavy, so we found his answer, which is just as problematic.

“English is our language, and yes, I would be willing to make English Alaska’s official language–it should be,” Dunleavy said. “We have a number of Native languages in the state of Alaska, which I think we should respect, but the language that we all communicate with is English and English should be our language as a state.”

Both Meyer and Dunleavy voted in favor of the 2014 bill that added Alaska Native languages to the state’s official language list.

Here’s the full exchange, including the question and, surprise, a reasonable response from Mead Treadwell:

Subsistence rights

And, hey, here’s a video of Republican candidate for House District 1 Bart LeBon saying he doesn’t support subsistence rights at a Native People’s Action event over the weekend.

Election thinking

Still, the thinking is that it’s still Dunleavy’s race to lose, but an interesting point was brought up to me over the weekend. Ask yourself, what percentage of the vote will the salmon habitat initiative get? Few expect it to win, but it’ll probably get in the neighborhood of 46 to 48 percent of the vote, right? How much of that vote would also go to Begich?

For the record, FiveThirtyEight puts Begich at a forecasted 46.8 percent of the vote with Dunleavy receiving 50.9 percent of the vote.


That’s the final odds that FiveThirtyEight gives Alyse Galvin of prevailing in the race against U.S. Rep. Don Young. Galvin is currently on her 40-in-4 tour, attempting to visit Alaska’s 40 house districts in four days.


Young appeared on the Alaska Landmine’s weekend podcast, where he said among other things that Nixon should have burned the tapes, but what’s getting less attention are comments the Dean of the House had when he’s recalling his relationship with U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson.

“I used to go over to visit his office every day at about 10 o’clock, and I’d go over there primarily to look at all the attractions,” he said, referring to Wilon’s female staffers known as “Charlie’s Angels.” “There were two people–Charlie Wilson and Murphy from New York–that competed to see who had the most attractive people working for them.”

Bree’s Law

It’s safe to say that Cindy and Butch Moore didn’t really appreciate their family being used in a political ad that attacked Dunleavy’s record on the law that carried the name of their daughter, Bree Moore, but after the weekend it’s also safe to say that they aren’t fans of Dunleavy, either. Both Cindy and Butch penned posts and letters over the weekend that take issue with the revisionist history put forward by Dunleavy and the Republican Party, suggesting they were actually big fans of Bree’s Law all along and never meant to nearly kill it by loading it up with a bunch of his own personal changes.

Ouch. As any Senate Republican can attest, best not to mess with the Moore family.

Walker endorsements

Walker might not be thrilled about supporting Begich, but the independent governor has come out strong in support of independent house candidates Chris Dimond and Jason Grenn. Over the weekend, Walker went door-to-door for Grenn (as did Assemblyman Christopher Constant and Alaska Landmine editor Jeff Landfield).

A big reason for Walker’s support of Grenn came down to the government accountability initiative that Grenn co-sponsored (that initiative also had the involvement of Midnight Sun Publisher Jim Lottsfeldt) before it was passed as a regular ol’ bill.

At what point does become vote buying?


Anchorage Sen. Bill Wielechowski isn’t the only person out there sending cease-and-desist letters over independent expenditure ads. We were tipped off that an ad by the union-backed Putting Alaskans First in favor of Rep. Scott Kawasaki has run afoul of the Alaska Fun and Sports Center, which sells Kawasaki Motor Corp. products.

The ad apparently borrows from the dealership’s ads by using one of its jingles (and the letter comes from an attorney who’s backed Kelly). Here’s the ad:

Spotify’s GOTV playlist

Music streaming service Spotify made some handy get-out-and-vote playlists for each state. Alaska’s is, uh, interesting with bangers like: “Subtle White Noises,” “Pink Noise for Sleeping,” “Pouring Rain – Loopable with No Fade” and Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still.” Huh?!?

Hear it still on Spotify.

A positive note

Hey, at least one Republican knows how to properly mix politics and music.

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