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The Sunday Minefield – July 15, 2018

Campaign season is definitely underway as more fundraisers, political events, and signs continue to go up. The primary is just over five weeks away. Lots of Alaskans attended the Bear Paw Festival this week in Eagle River. Many candidates participated and there was no shortage of drama (see below on that). Summer is also halfway over, which makes me a bit sad. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks!

Anchorage Assembly Drama

The Assembly meeting on Tuesday (7/10/2018) got a little interesting. The interim appointment for the West Anchorage Assembly seat was supposed to be uneventful. But it ended up getting a bit weird. The Assembly interviewed the candidates and then voted on who they would select. Keep in mind this is only an interim appointment until after the special election, on August 7. The first three rounds of voting resulted in a 5-5 tie between Ira Perman and Jim Kubitz. Amazing that no one voted for one of the Darden brothers to decide the thing.

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Union Yes

At one point Assembly Chair Forrest Dunbar suggested a coin toss! But he was told that is only for actual elections, not interim appointments. Damn. During all of this Assemblyman Chris Constant said “One thing for sure, both these candidates are equally respected.” Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar jokingly responded “Or equally loathed.” YES! Assemblywoman Amy Demboski made sure to ask both Perman and Kubitz about land use and taxes – for a six week term. Bless her heart.

In the end Kubitz said he thought Perman would make a good choice and asked to not be considered on the next vote. What a legend. On the fourth vote, Perman won. But someone decided to get loose and voted for Will Tremaine. Bizarre. The person could have done that on the second ballot and avoided all of this. After, the Darden brothers made sure to note how unhappy they were with the process. Never a dull moment.

Governor’s Race

Some interesting independent expenditure (IE) filings happened this week. The group, Alaskans Against Dunleavy, chaired by Justin Matheson, who lives in Washington state, made a filing on 7/10/2018 showing zero income. They better get some money if they are going to do anything. The primary is right around the corner.

The group, Dunleavy for Alaska, made a really funny parody website for the group Alaskans Against Dunleavy. Check it out here.

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Union Yes

Another IE, Mead Treadwell for Alaska’s Future, made a filing on 7/13/2018 showing nearly $20,000 in contributions. This group is made up of actual Alaskans and most of the money is from Ed Rasmuson and Ron Duncan. I guess they aren’t on team DunleavyMead Treadwell IE people – you gotta get an ad on the Landmine!

Mark Begich held three events this week: his campaign headquarters opening, a town hall meeting on crime, and his kickoff fundraiser. All the events were packed with a lot of well known Democrats and elected Democratic officials in attendance. He filed to run on June 1 but his campaign has been pretty quiet until now. If this week is any indicator of the rest of the campaign he should be quite busy.

Representative Les Gara (D – Anchorage) wrote an opinion piece this week, “Three-way governor’s race dangerous for Alaska.” Gara is definitely not on team Dunleavy. He argues that a three-way race all but ensures Mike Dunleavy will win. AFL-CIO Boss Vince Beltrami also expressed concern this week that a three-way race would lead to a Mike Dunleavy victory. Many Democrats are hoping someone will drop out before the general election. The deadline for that is September 4. Both Begich and Walker have said they have no intention of dropping out. This will definitely make for some good drama this fall!

Other Happenings

Zack Fields, Democratic candidate for the Downtown Anchorage House seat, announced this week that the Alaska Center has endorsed him. The Alaska Center is super on board with the Stand for Salmon ballot initiative. This is a bit weird because one of Field’s early supporters is Joey Merrick, who is a Co-Chair for Stand for Alaska, the group opposing Stand for Salmon. Who does Fields stand for?

Florida local and State House candidate Ross Bieling is running against Representative Jennifer Johnston (R – Anchorage) again. He’s the guy who REALLY loves using upper case! He unsuccessfully ran against Johnston in the Republican primary in 2016. He spent like $100k of his own money on that election! He lost 43-57 to Johnston. But some Republican insiders are saying Johnston may be vulnerable this time. Expect this race to heat up in the coming weeks.

Senator Kevin Meyer (R – Anchorage) got a little mixed up this week at a Republican forum for candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in Eagle River. During his remarks he was talking about how great things are going for Alaska in D.C. with Alaskans like Joe Balash and Geran Tarr in great positions to help Alaska. Geran Tarr! His fellow candidate for lieutenant governor, Lynn Gattis, interrupted him and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Kevin immediately realized what he said and made it clear he meant Tara Sweeny, who was just confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Indian affairs at the Interior Department.

Governor Walker signed House Bill 214 into law this week. This is the bill that names the “dating violence” part of the Alaska Safe Children’s Act to Bree’s Law. The bill faced bizarre opposition from Senator John Coghill (R – North Pole) during the recent session. It eventually passed the senate after a lot of public pressure resulted in the bill leaving the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Coghill chairs.

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AK Resource

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R -Alaska) is hiring for an entry level staff position in her D.C. office. Sorry Lisa, I am not available. Below is a description of the job and how to apply. The deadline to apply is July 20.

Staff Position for Senator Lisa Murkowski

Jeanne Devon and David Luntz got married on Saturday (7/14/2018) at O’Malley’s On the Green in Anchorage. It was a great wedding with lots of awesome people in attendance. Thanks for the invite! Jeanne met David several years ago at a second amendment rally she was covering in Fairbanks. David was one of the organizers. An unlikely match resulted in two very happy people. Congrats to them both. I wish them all the best in their marriage.

Bear Par Brawl

Warning – this is awesome. Apparently Representative Lora Reinbold’s (R – Eagle River) husband, Eric, is not someone to fuck with. Sources say that he approached Representative Dan Saddler (R – Eagle River) at the Bear Paw Festival because he did not like what Saddler was saying about his wife, Lora Reinbold. Saddler and Reinbold are running against each other for the Eagle River senate seat. Apparently Saddler told Eric to leave him alone but Eric physically confronted Saddler and got aggressive. YESSSS! The argument got heated while they were in each other’s faces. Eventually someone approached them and told them to knock it off. Apparently a bystander filmed it all. YES! Person who filmed this – if you are reading this please get me that video. I got $100 with your name on it and it will be anonymous. The public NEEDS to see this. This would normally be Loose Unit worthy but this week we have one that is way better.

This Week’s Loose Unit

It was only a matter of time before this person became this week’s Loose Unit. And a Loose Unit she is. This week’s Loose Unit is Erika McConnell, Director of the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office (AMCO). McConnell is the person who decided the state should mess with distilleries and not let them serve mixed drinks. But it’s a letter she sent this week to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board that has earned her the Loose Unit designation. She recommended they deny the recreational site license to the Anchorage Ski Club for the Arctic Valley Ski Area. Here is a part of the letter:

McConnell seems to really get off by going after non-profits who like to have a drink at their events. Total Loose Unit! She wants to take licenses from companies and nonprofits who have done nothing wrong except be in her way of sending Alaska back to alcohol prohibition. McConnell is disliked by a lot of legislators and staff because of how she treats the alcohol industry. Here is what one high level legislative staffer said about McConnell:

McConnell is loathed by nearly everyone. She has caused undue stress to the industry, and is without a doubt no fun to party with. She’s the poster child for what is wrong with government. Government doesn’t exist so terrorists like her can attack small business. Her inability to comprehend the law means she probably shouldn’t be making recommendations about it.

What a Loose Unit! And one more thing. According to a high level state official, McConnell has said that airlines serving drinks in Alaska should have a full on liquor license. Give me a break. Her being the Director of AMCO would be like making me the head Alaska Right to Life. She is more suited to work at the alcohol control board in Iran. Talk about a Loose Unit!

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 jeff@alaskalandmine.com.

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Berta

Good issue but I was disappointed to find no mention of the golfer wedding crasher. Was fun to see you.