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We Build Alaska

The Sunday Minefield – December 17, 2017

As Christmas and the new year approaches, politics is not slowing down. Just the opposite, this week saw a multitude of holiday parties and political events.

The new conservative political consulting firm, Pinnacle Group, held a holiday party on Monday at Davis Constructors near Dowling and C Street. Pinnacle currently represents 5 state house candidates: Joe Riggs, Connie Dougherty, Marcus Sanders, Stephen Duplantis, and Sara Rasmussen. Their well-attended event included plenty of politicos: Dave Stieren, Representative Charisse Millett (R – Anchorage), Lynn Gattis, Marilyn Stewart, former Mayor Dan Sullivan, and many others. One big issue (for me at least) was – a complete absence of alcohol! I realize that Pinnacle represents 2 pastors and a pregnant woman, but come on guys, booze is a must at these things.

All 5 candidates spoke, but Marcus Sanders stole the show with an extremely high energy and impassioned speech. Sanders, who is running against Democrat Andy Josephson, tapped into his inner preacher and had the whole room mesmerized. Can I get an amen!

Representative Andy Josephson (D – Anchorage) seems to have a real race on his hands – so, no surprise that he held an event at a downtown home last Monday. I arrived late but there were still around 40 people in attendance. Notable politicos included: Harry Crawford, Anchorage Assemblyman Pete Petersen, Sheila Selkregg, former Anchorage Mayor and former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles, and Anchorage School Board Member Tam Agosti-Gisler. The highlight for me was Harry Crawford’s incredible Cajun etouffe. Harry can cook! He needs to open a food truck.

On Thursday, Representative Jason Grenn (I – Anchorage) hosted more than 40 people, mostly from his district, at the incredible lake front home of a constituent. Former Anchorage Assemblyman Ernie Hall introduced Grenn as a strong independent and hard worker. UAA and ISER economist Scott Goldsmith was also at the event. The best part of the event was lots of holiday spirit! And, by that I mean bourbon, brandy and Jameson. Pinnacle Group take note!

The Midnight Sun Republican Women’s Club Christmas Party took place Friday night at the hillside home of Chris and Pam Birch. It included an ugly Christmas sweater party, which I did not win. I smell collusion. It was a low key event with no speeches although all of the legislators and candidates were introduced. There were A LOT of people there so I will just name elected officials (sorry if I left anyone out): Senator Kevin Meyer (R – Anchorage), Representative Lance Pruitt (R – Anchorage), Representative Jennifer Johnston (R – Anchorage), Representative Charisse Millett (R – Anchorage), Representative Chris Birch (R – Anchorage), Representative Dan Saddler (R – Anchorage), and Anchorage School Board Member Elise Snelling. Surprisingly not in attendance were Joe Riggs and Albert Fogle. They are facing each other in the Republican primary for Chris Birch’s seat (he’s vacating it to run for state senate). Definitely a missed opportunity to talk with some of the voters.

Other Happenings

Speculation over whether John Binkley will throw his hat into the gubernatorial race has been running rampant recently, with many saying that he’s already decided not to run. The Midnight Sun wrote on December 8, 2017, “We’ve also heard that our favorite candidate to speculate about—John Binkley—won’t be running.” Landmine readers wanted to know for sure so I picked up the phone and gave him a call. So you heard it hear first, as of this week, Mr. Binkley says that he is “still considering” a run for governor.

The deadline to file is not until June 1, 2018, and Binkley can certainly raise enough money for the campaign, so he has the luxury of sitting and watching to see how things unfold.

Many Republicans are still hoping Ralph Samuels gets in the race. I reached out to Ralph to see if he is considering it, but he has not gotten back to me. In fact, he has not responded to any of my messages in the last 5 years. I’m glad I’ve seen him around at resource events because otherwise I would think he was dead. Ralph? Are you there? Ralph???

Senator Mike Dunleavey (R – Wasilla) was spotted at a gun show at Raven Hall in Palmer. He walked out with a double barrel shotgun he had just purchased. Some wonder if he is planning on getting back in the governor’s race as many rank and file Republicans, as well as establishment ones, aren’t happy with the current choices. Maybe he is planning on coming out guns blazing?

Rich Mauer accepted a job as a KTUU political reporter covering the legislature in Juneau. Just prior to that, KTVA hired him as their News Director, but they then let him go just 6 days later for no apparent reason. Hopefully his tenure at KTUU will be much longer. Looking forward to his coverage from Juneau.

KTVA reporter Liz Raines is not returning to cover the legislature in Juneau next session. Instead, she will focus on anchoring in Anchorage. Word is KTVA hired a new political reporter to cover Juneau and will announce who it is this week. The dynamic with Rich should be interesting.

Pro trip: If you are running for office and feel the need to call women (yes, plural) to see if they are going to “say anything” about your behavior towards them, perhaps you should just drop out. Everyone knows. The jig is up.

Someone should teach Juneau Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis, who is running against Representative Justin Parish (D – Juneau), how to setup a new email address. This is from his Alaska Public Offices Commission official filing. I kind of respect that email address though #nankyspanky

Former aide to Senator Kevin Meyer, (R – Anchorage), Suzanne Cunningham, left for D.C. this week to take a new job with the senate energy committee. She had a public going away party on Monday at Little Italy. Then on Tuesday, she had an invite only going away party at La Mex that included high level officials and lobbyists #highlevelmeeting. I did not get an invite to that one… I wish her all the best on her new role.

Word is Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock is considering a run against Senator Peter Micciche (R – Soldotna). So the question is – will he stand for re-election as Alaska Republican Party Chairman at the March convention in Anchorage or not?

Three well-known lobbyists (Kris Knauss, Kent Dawson, Royce Weller) have started a new firm, Confluence Strategies. Their Facebook page has no information and their website is just a page asking for a password. You guys need a fourth guy? Or some tech help?

Representative Dan Ortiz (I – Ketchikan) wrote a lengthy rebuttal to a letter submitted to SitNews by perennial Anchorage candidate David Nees. I get the feeling Dan doesn’t know who Nees is. His response can be seen here.

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? If so, I should feel flattered. Check out this Christmas card from Senator Natasha von Imhof (R – Anchorage) and family. The hat says “Make Golden Horn Great Again” I’m not sure what that is but I bet it’s expensive.

Natasha, I still have a “Make Alaska Great Again” hat for you. If you want to arrange an exchange, call me maybe?

Alaska Governor Bill Walker and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott are hosting a fundraiser in Anchorage at former Governor Bill Sheffield’s home in Anchorage on Monday December 16th. Check out the long list of co-hosts. They are definitely sending a message.

I would love to attend but am headed to New Mexico to spend Christmas with my parents and sister. Side note: Next week’s column will be truncated due to my travels and Christmas. Merry Christmas to all the folks reading this. I appreciate your support.

If you have any political news, stories or gossip (or any old pics of politicians or public officials) please email me at

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