This is the 13th edition of the Sunday Minefield. When it began, my concern was having enough content every week, but it quickly became evident that wouldn’t be a problem. There’s so much interesting political info in Alaska, I have to pick and choose what to include and what to leave out each week. Special thanks to everyone who sends in tips! If you have anything good, email me at email@example.com
Governor and Legislature
The 30th Session of the Alaska Legislature begins on Tuesday (1/16/18) and things are already kicking off in Juneau. Governor Bill Walker has plenty on his plate as well. Among them, selecting someone to fill the District 40 house seat vacated by Dean Westlake’s resignation. Per state law, the Alaska Democratic Party sent Walker 3 names to choose from. They are:
1) Eugene Smith of Kotzebue
2) Sandra Shroyer Beaver of Kotzebue
3) Leanna Mack of Utqiagvik
Walker’s office says they are currently reviewing the nominees (legally, he has until January 24th to make the appointment – which must then be approved by a majority of the House Dems.) If this is the same Sandy Shroyer-Beaver, I’m guessing this might be an issue:
Walker also has to fill the senate seat that Senator Mike Dunleavy is resigning from in order to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. Both house representatives, David Eastman (R – Wasilla) and George Rauscher (R – Sutton), have expressed interest in the seat. I really hope he picks Eastman to give Senate President Pete Kelly a fun new project for this session – dealing with the antics of Eastman. But before we get ahead of ourselves, it was overheard in the capital that Eastman received a call from Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock telling him to not even bother applying. David, please apply, PLEASE APPLY!
Word on the street is that an independent expenditure for Mike Dunleavy’s campaign is about to be announced. Sounds like it will have plenty of talent and plenty of money.
Looks like my good buddy Grace Jang has been promoted by Bill Walker. Jang is currently Walker’s Communications Director. I can’t confirm her new title but the job has something to do with streamlining communication between the different state departments. Sounds like a lot of high-level meetings! My guess is that newly hired Press Secretary Austin Baird will pick up some of her existing work.
Representative David Guttenberg (D – Fairbanks) hired a new staffer, Lelañea Fulton. I suggest taking a few minutes to look her up on Google. The first result is an article titled “Meet Lelañea Fulton, Dirty French’s Savvy, Stylish Wine Director.” She also has a website, The Loving Somm, which has some interesting content. Her bio reads like a James Bond movie plot. On the main page she says about herself, “Lelañea’s style and approach to wine reflects her humble roots and salt of the earth charm that allows her to interact with her clientele in a language that illuminates and clarifies the mysteries of wine.” What a sentence! Can you use the term salt of the earth about yourself? I’m not sure how much experience she has in government but I have a feeling she will fit in just fine in Juneau. Not many of us know a sommelier after all. Oh, and check out her Instagram too.
Friday, the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics had a meeting that lasted all day. The majority of it in executive session. What could they have discussed for so long? I doubt it was about the legislative bowling league. My bet it was about the new sexual harassment policy and training. I would have loved to be a fly on that wall. Check out the legislators on the committee:
The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday. No meeting agenda is posted. The meeting info just says executive session. Word is they will be discussing the sexual harassment report regarding former Representative Dean Westlake. I wonder if they are going to release it?
Here is something bizarre. Last year a group of kids from a village was taking a tour of the Capitol. Apparently Representative Justin Parish (D – Juneau) saw them, raised his hand like he was giving them a blessing, and said something to the effect of:
“Hark young children, from a land far away. Who art thou? Welcome to the land of laws.”
One of the kids apparently thought Parish was a homeless guy. When someone told the kid he was a state legislator, the kid didn’t believe him. I really want to go door to door with Parish.
Alyse Galvin, who is challenging Congressman Don Young, held her campaign kickoff event on Thursday (1/11/2018) at 49th State Brewery in Anchorage. More than 100 people were reported to have attended, including politicos: Mark Begich, Deborah Bonito, Commissioner of Administration Leslie Ridle, Representative Harriet Drummond (D – Anchorage), and many others. Galvin has been active in grassroots organizing and the group Great Alaska Schools. I didn’t make it but it looked very #highenergy!
Galvin, an Independent, is planning to run in the Democratic primary. But the Alaska Supreme Court has yet to rule on a case by the State of Alaska challenging a Superior Court ruling allowing Independents to run in the Democratic primary. So it could get interesting if the court overrules the decision. Also, Dimitri Shein – a Democrat, filed to run for Young’s congressional seat last year. His campaign provided the following comment about Galvin running as an Independent in the Democratic primary:
More women should run for public office and it is great that Alyse is running as an Independent. I can appreciate the Democratic Party being open and allowing Independents to run in our Democratic primary even though some do not fully embrace the platform of the party and would not want to be called Democrats. I am running as Democrat because I believe in the Democratic party and what it stands for. I am proud to be a Democrat and to run as one.
I sense some drama to come in this race.
Nathaniel Markowitz left his position as Finance Director of the Alaska Democratic Party to consult on Alyse Galvin’s campaign. I really hope he did not use a private email server while working at the party.
The Wasilla City Council voted to ban the use of plastic bags effective July 1. A loyal Landmine reader suggested the following scenario taking place this summer: A guy is walking out of a Wasilla Fred Meyer with several plastic bags full of meth. A police officer stops him and arrests him for using the plastic bags, not for possessing the meth. #SB91
This week a very interesting Politico article came out about Alaska titled “How to Turn a Red State Purple (Democrats Not Required).” The article talks about the history of Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D – Sitka), Assemblyman Forest Dunbar and John-Henry Heckendorn, Director of Projects for Governor Walker, and how they have been working together to get progressives elected. It’s definitely worth a read. But not everyone is happy about it. Many Democrats are unhappy that the article left out key groups that helped make the Democrat led House Majority possible. Here are some comments that were made about the article:
A senior staffer described the article as “Nauseating.”
A current Democratic legislator described the three as, “Mediocre white men.”
A former senior staffer said, “I wanted to vomit everywhere.”
Whoa! I expect there will be more fallout to come from this.
This Week’s Loose Unit
This week’s Loose Unit is a no brainer. Former Senator Bill Stoltze is the clear winner. The Alaska Landmine broke the story (click here to read) this week about how Stoltze went off the rails on colleagues and his history of bullying behavior while in the legislature. Reportedly screaming, cursing out colleagues, and punching out a window, all because of a bill that limited the Alaska Railroad’s right-of-way authority. Damn he is a bit of a loose unit. A loyal Landmine reader suggested the Alaska Railroad hire Stoltze to be their lobbyist.
However, the story did bring some closure to Representative Les Gara (D – Anchorage), who was relieved to find out that he was mistaken in his long held belief that Stoltze had punched out the window out of anger towards him.
One more thing, after the Landmine broke the story that senate leadership told Representative Tammie Wilson (R – North Pole) to just avoid Stoltze after he went off on her, the Midnight Sun, KTUU, and the Juneau Empire all wrote about it. Noticeably absent from the coverage was Alaska GOP blog Must Read Alaska. I know Suzanne, there is just some stuff you just can’t spin.
And finally, I attended the Burns Supper last night at the Sheraton in downtown Anchorage. It is a yearly celebration of the life and poetry of the Scottish poet and legend Robert Burns. They happen all over the world and are an awesome time. Plenty of haggis, scotch, toasts and speeches. This is the 18th Burns Supper in Anchorage. Lots of folks from the resource industry were in attendance, as usual. Very high level. Several people requested they not appear in the Alaska Landmine. Hey, I guess people are reading!
Of the many funny and memorable moments that occurred, I have to mention one. At one point the master of ceremonies told everyone to raise their glasses for a toast to Scotland, Alaska, the President of the United States, and the Queen. When he said the President, a good portion of the room chuckled. Make America Giggle Again!
I also ran into Senator Natasha von Imhof’s (R – Anchorage) chief of staff, Shareen Crosby. She and I have an interesting past. She ran Natasha’s campaign when I ran against Natasha in 2016 (Yes Natasha you beat me). Shareen was telling people she was my secret girlfriend. Hell, let’s just make it official.
If you have a nomination for This Week’s Loose Unit, or if you have any political news, stories or gossip (or any old pics of politicians or public officials) please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.