It’s that time of year again, where we all get together and recall the fond memories of the year that was. Look back with some guilt about all the bread, all the writing and all the other things that we were going to do during all the months stuck at home and instead think about all the great television hat has been watched and takeout that has been consumed this year.
What does 2021 have in store? Who knows! All we know is we’re looking forward to anything other than 2020. But before we close the book on this year, let’s goof on it. You can also check out our wrestling-inspired 2019 awards and our not-as-much-wrestling 2018 awards.
Most likely to successfully negotiate the release of hostages in her final days in office – Senate President Cathy Giessel
Already putting in the work of a Senate President back in the days of the Republican super-minority, Anchorage Republican Sen. Cathy Giessel’s ascension to Senate President was as inevitable as it was worrying—as it meant some competent far-right conservativism would be in charge of the chamber. But it turns out that there’s more important things in life—namely not dismantling state government and selling off the scraps to Donna Arduin’s buddies—and Giessel surprised by taking the moderate let’s-maybe-not-destroy-Alaska track. It cost her the job, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see the soon-to-be-former senator back in the audience of Senate Resource Committee hearings with a neatly earmarked binder and a better understanding of what’s going on than anyone at the table.
Most popular… except for that one time – The Alaska Court System
After taking a pummeling from Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the Alaska Court System stood its ground and vowed to stand up to political pressure and deliver fair and equal justice to everyone. The court system played an important role in responding to the pandemic this year, shuttering courts—including eviction courts—approving changes that made it easier to vote in the pandemic and understood that if Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said there’s not enough paper to reprint ballots in time then that’s cool, too.
Least popular… except for that one time – Division of Elections
Try as the Division of Elections’ Hello-Fellow-Kids Twitter personality might, there was little to like about the Division of Elections’ handling of the 2020 elections. Mertarvik didn’t get to vote in the primary because oops! The general election ballot was secretly redesigned to conveniently align with Republican talking points because why not. And there was plenty of attempted meddling in the initiatives and recalls, but at the end of the day they at least stood by the results and accuracy of the election. Which, I guess, is the low bar for excellence in 2020.
Most athletic – Dunleavy dodging the press
It’s been 129 days, as Andrew Halcro has dutifully reminded us, since Gov. Mike Dunleavy refused to answer questions about why he planned to allow Attorney General Kevin Clarkson to keep his job after harassing a junior state employee or why Chief of Staff Ben Stevens told the victim to keep her mouth shut. It’s been a pretty athletic display with plenty of dodging and a fair amount of strong arming, but he’s yet to face a tough question on it so far so can’t argue with the results.
Drama llama – Lora Reinbold
The masks are tyranny. The lack of food on flights is tyranny. The lack of booze options is tyranny. Trying to ensure that the people providing you service on a flight don’t get sick and die with the most basic of preventative measures… you got it, also tyranny.
But, hey, at least we got this:
Best senator who never was – Marna Sanford
Things looked really good for independent candidate Marna Sanford for exactly one results update before coming up short against whatever Republican it was that beat Republican Sen. John Coghill for Senate District B. Watching any of the debates for the race, it was eminently clear just how good of a legislator Sanford would have made. Unfortunately, as the polls showed, not too many people were watching.
Most likely to become governor by introducing yourself as future governor enough that people just give up – Cachet Garrett
With the rushed end of the legislative session, we were denied the confirmation battle over student regent Cachet Garrett, who along with frequently introducing herself as the future governor of Alaska had several bizarre confirmation hearings and later asked legislators to reprimand Sen. Bill Wielechowski asking why she was shown the door from the communications program.
Then on Aug. 31, students received an even more bizarre 4,200+ word email entitled “A love letter from your student regent, Cachet” that was riddled with typos, bizarre pseudo spiritualism and winning lines like “NO MORE SUICIDING.” Turns out University of Alaska students are a witty, meme-ing bunch and had a hay day with it until they were informed that they, perhaps, might be bullying Garrett. Looking forward to “A love letter from your governor, Cachet.”
Most generous (with sole source contracts) – Kelly Tshibaka
Making the government more lean and mean? There’s a sole source contract for that.
Class Clown – Lance Pruitt
Whether he’s the butt of the joke or just a butt, he just loves to make everyone laugh. His greatest pratfall being his increasingly dumb, embarrassing and embarrassingly dumb lawsuit to overturn his 11-vote election loss where the best evidence they can muster that he’s due an entirely new election is a voter who didn’t feel like waiting in line.
Biggest flirt (with losing) – Chris Tuck
Another election year, another year that Anchorage Democratic Rep. Chris Tuck hardly does any fundraising, hardly campaigns and still wins handily.
Worst consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship – Ethan Berkowitz and Maria Athens
Worst summer school class – Donna Arduin’s budget lesson
Ahead of the 2020 elections, former OMB Director Donna Arduin returned to Alaska to make another pitch that the state should be scrapped and sold to her buddies. The takeaway pitch: Rob rural Alaska so you don’t have to make any tough decisions. It went over so well that the House is firmly split 20-20.
Most likely to be left out of the group chat – Must Read Alaska
Sure, she’s the mouthpiece of the Republican Party/Dunleavy administration but we’d imagine there’s be some second thoughts about her free-reigning access to all things Republican after that fundraiser where she busted a mask-less Dunleavy and gleefully posted a picture of the year’s worst birthday party where Don Young and Josh Revak both took home covid-19.
But I guess $48,000 in government cash will keep her warm at night.
Blight we’ll be glad to see gone in 2021 – Kevin Clarkson
Honorable mention: Coronavirus