As the heat, smoke, and long summer days continue around much of Alaska, things in the political world are also heating up. Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) announced his reversal on several vetoes this week, the effort to recall him says they have gathered enough signatures to submit their recall petition, a long discussed oil tax ballot initiative has been submitted, and the process to choose a replacement for the late Senator Chris Birch is underway.
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This week Governor Dunleavy was busy announcing his reversal on cuts to senior benefits, K-12 education, the University of Alaska, and others. He said it has nothing to do with the recall effort against him and everything to do with the conversation he started with Alaskans. I’m not sure anyone actually believes that. The fascinating thing to watch is how quickly so many of his hardcore PFD supporters have turned on him. The group Permanent Fund Defenders came out and said they supported the $1,600 PFD and then an additional $1,400 later. That triggered many of the full PFD or nothing crowd. Many want Dunleavy to veto the entire $1,600 and call the Legislature back and demand a $3,000 PFD. The Legislature has made it clear they don’t support that.
I wonder if Dunleavy is going to pull his bill, SB 58, “An Act repealing the senior benefits payment program; and providing for an effective date.” You can see his transmittal letter here.
Here are some other bills that were requested by Dunleavy….
Many of the hardcore PFD people have taken to talk radio and social media to describe their disappointment that Dunleavy has reversed himself on some of his vetoes. Some have even said if he does not veto the $1,600 PFD they will support the recall effort against him. Others have said he has caved to the deep state, labor, or special interests. I’m glad I don’t have such “loyal” friends.
It’s so bad that his mouthpiece, Suzanne Downing, is actually claiming he never promised a full PFD! That is rich. Even Goebbels couldn’t spin this.
This type of denial is on another level. In a bizarre attempt to provide cover for @GovDunleavy, his mouthpiece Suzanne Downing today wrote that he never promised a full PFD! WOW! Here’s a quote from a January 2019 KTVA story. SO LOOSE! Even Goebbels couldn’t spin this. #akleg pic.twitter.com/ZbYbGEnC0J
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) August 15, 2019
Dunleavy should have given one speech about all of this. He should have said he went too far, too fast, realized he made some bad decisions, and that he decided to make some corrections. Instead, he claimed he was listening to Alaskans after the conversation he started, and even partially blamed the Legislature. That is not leadership. Leadership is being able to admit you made a mistake and then explain how you are going to fix it.
Tomorrow will be the big day. Dunleavy said he will announce what vetoes he will uphold and whether or not he will accept or reject the $1,600 PFD. It was supposed to be on Friday but he decided to take the weekend to think about it. Word is his staff are split on this. No one really knows what he will do. Regardless of what he does, a lot of people will be mad. The expected result when your main campaign platform is promising people a lot of money.
Congressman Don Young (R – Alaska) held his big fundraiser, Taste of Alaska, at the home of former Governor Bill Sheffield this week. It was an absolutely packed event with hundreds of people in attendance. A real who’s who of Alaska’s political and business community. Young had just returned from a trip to South Africa, but he was as high energy as ever.
Something very funny happened at the Don Young event. While Young was speaking, the wife of a prominent Alaskan was trying to tell him to speak closer to the mic. She was motioning her fist back and forth in front of her mouth while saying, “Eat the mic, eat the mic!” She was completely unaware of how that looked. Many who saw this were trying hard to hold back their laughter.
Liz Snyder, who is challenging Representative Lance Pruitt (R – Anchorage) held a fundraiser this week at the home of Mark Begich and his wife Deborah Bonito. It was reported to have been a packed event. Word is she raised over $30,000! To put that in context, many people who run for the House do not raise that much in their entire campaign.
Sources report that the people behind the long talked about oil tax ballot initiative submitted it to the Division of Elections on Friday afternoon. Some of the big names involved are Robin Brena, former Representative Harry Crawford, and former Representative Paul Seaton. Here we go again. Alaska really is its own worst enemy when it comes to creating a stable investment climate for our largest industry. Look for the Legislature to take up an oil tax bill next year in order to prevent this from getting on the ballot.
Becky Hultberg is leaving Alaska to take a new job in Oregon. Her background and knowledge on healthcare will be missed. Good luck on your next job, Becky. We need to do a podcast before you leave!
A memorial was held for Chris Birch at Hilltop Ski Area on Thursday. Over 500 people were in attendance. He will be greatly missed. Here is an article I wrote about Chris and how special of a person he was.
The Alaska Republican Party is taking applications until today for those who want to replace Chris Birch. So far four have applied: Representative Laddie Shaw (R – Anchorage), Albert Fogle, Tali Birch Kindred (Chris Birch’s daughter), and former Senator Dave Donley. Look for a complete Landmine article on this tomorrow. Republican Districts 25 and 26 will meet on Wednesday to decide what three names to send to Governor Dunleavy. Dunleavy has until September 7 to choose a name to replace Birch. He is not actually required to pick from the list but he likely will. When Walker picked off list (Randall Kowalke) to replace Dunleavy, Senate Republicans rejected him. After Dunleavy picks a name, a majority of Senate Republicans must vote to confirm or reject the name. There are 12 Republicans in the Senate, so seven will be needed to confirm. They are split 6/6 on the PFD issue. This could end up being a big fight.
Update: Representative Josh Revak (R – Anchorage) and Lisa Sauder have also applied to fill the seat.
Governor Dunleavy signed SB 75 this week at Northern Industrial Training. He left out one thing. NIT is owned by the family of Adam Crum, his Commissioner of Health and Social Services.
Today I had the privilege of signing SB75 into law at Northern Industrial Training. SB75 lowers the minimum age to obtain an intrastate Commercial Driver’s License. This legislation is a giant step forward for economic opportunity for young Alaskans & Alaska’s trucking industry. pic.twitter.com/FxhlUGX7fl
— Governor Mike Dunleavy (@GovDunleavy) August 17, 2019
The Alaska Municipal League held their annual Summer Legislative Conference this week in Soldotna. Several legislators were in attendance, as well as Senator Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska).
I have a message for a few people:
To the legislator and their significant other whose names have repeatedly been connected to spreading unfounded and horrible rumors about their colleagues and staffers, I know who both of you are. If I continue to hear about this, then everyone will know who you are too. This isn’t a threat, it’s a promise.
This Week’s Loose Unit
This week was a no brainer. However, I am including two Loose Units this week as I did not include one in last week’s column. For last week, the Loose Unit was Al Gross. This week’s Loose Unit is Chris Cillizza.
Let’s start with Al Gross. Gross is challenging Senator Dan Sullivan (R – Alaska). He is an Independent running in the Democratic primary. He is new to this whole campaign thing. Last week, after our awesome Alaska Stalker column came out, Gross got very loose with his social media. In the August 1 Stalker column, she wrote about how Al Gross posted a pic with the ferry workers who were on strike. At the end of his post, he said, “Where are you Dan Sullivan?” She then shared a post form Senator Sullivan who was playing basketball with Senator Ted Cruz.
Al got real excited about this. If you had not heard, the ADN has been posting the Stalker column online every Friday with some bonus content. He decided to post about it on social media and claim that the ADN was highlighting the differences between the two. It’s the Alaska Stalker, Al. A lighthearted social media roundup and gossip column. It’s not their editorial board, mate. So loose. Also, Sullivan was in D.C. at, you know, his job. But then Gross started running it as a paid ad! So loose. Maybe his new campaign manager, David Keith, thought it was a good idea. I don’t know much about David Keith, but if this MSN article about him is true, he sounds like great Loose Unit material.
And now to Chris Cillizza. If you have yet to hear about this guy, you are in for a real treat. Cillizza is a political commentator for CNN. He is also a Loose Unit. In response to President Trump’s comment about buying Greenland, Cillizza wrote an article about it. This dude has a serious case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. He said the purchase of Alaska “Didn’t work out so well.” Wow, now that is a Loose Unit! Does CNN have editors? I guess they edit after the fact because they changed the wording of the article. So loose. Chris, you should read up on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the Alaska Permanent Fund, Alaska Native Corporations, Alaska tourism, our vast resources, and our strategic location. You are fucking loose, mate. Check out what Craig Medred had to say about this Loose Unit.
The @CNN reporter who wrote this article sounds like a real idiot. It didn’t work out so well? Ugh, @CillizzaCNN you should read up on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, AK Native Corporations, Alaska tourism, and the strategic location of Alaska. It actually worked out great. #akleg pic.twitter.com/liHz95pGEV
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) August 17, 2019
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.