The “90-day” legislative session is more than halfway done and it is not looking likely that they will finish on time. Again. Upside – more content for Landmine readers! This week saw more strange happenings in Juneau, as well as another busy week for politics in Anchorage.
Representative Lance Pruitt (R – Anchorage), had a rather strong response to a suggestion made by Representative Paul Seaton (R –Homer) during a House Finance Committee meeting this week. Seaton said that representatives from the Public Defender Agency were there to answer questions about proposed changes to the agency. Pruitt replied that he didn’t need an explanation from anyone, he can read what’s in front of him. Tensions seem to be rising in the House Finance Committee. The interaction can be seen below. Oh, the #PruittBeard is getting very strong.
My buddy Senator David Wilson (R – Wasilla) did something strange this week (it’s not what you are thinking). He voted with the Senate Majority against discharging Senator Bill Wielechowski’s (D – Anchorage) bill, SJR1, from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, which hasn’t been heard in over a year, enshrines the PFD in the Alaska state constitution. Many of the PFD defender crowd were upset with Senate Majority for not voting to discharge it from the committee. Wilson must have heard from them because a few days after the vote he asked to be a co-sponsor of the bill. This begs the question – why did Wilson not vote to discharge the bill? What could the Senate Majority have on him…?
There was an extremely awkward interaction this week between Senator Wielechowski and Senator Cathy Giessel (R – Anchorage) in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Giessel introduced a bill requiring doctors to try and save the life of a baby during an abortion. During the conclusion of her testimony, she got emotional and referenced Oskar Schindler and the Talmud. Wielechowski shot a lot of questions at her about exactly how this would work. He pointed out that, according to state data Giessel herself provided, 99.5% of abortions in Alaska occur before week 13. He also pointed out that the record for a child surviving a premature birth is 21 weeks and 5 days. During all of that testimony Senator Mia Costello (R – Anchorage) looked like she would rather be anywhere else in the world than at that committee meeting. Check out the very uncomfortable interaction here:
Tiffany Zulkosky (D – Bethel) was sworn in this week. She replaces former Representative Zach Fansler. Fansler resigned earlier this year after a woman accused him of hitting her after a night out drinking. Zulkosky’s conformation puts the number of women in the legislature at 19, the most ever. All the best to the new Representative Zulkosky Maybe an all female legislature would result in a budget passed on time. It’s worth a shot!
The Cursed Caucus
The House Majority Caucus has had a rough go this session. Because they only have 22 members out of 40, there’s very little leeway in votes. They lost former Representatives Dean Westlake and Zach Fansler this year. The process to fill Westlake’s seat was rocky and took longer than usual. Fansler’s was much smoother, but his replacement was only sworn in this week. Representative Ivy Spohnholz (D – Anchorage) had a health issue last week and was absent. Then, this week another Majority member, Representative David Guttenberg (D – Fairbanks) collapsed in the Capitol and was rushed to the hospital.
All of this, combined with issues with the senate on a fiscal plan and trying to pass a budget, hasn’t been easy on the caucus. Which may explain how something extremely rare occurred in the house this week. A bill went to the floor dealing with the State Defense Force. It was not a high profile or important bill but it nonetheless was up for a vote. The Majority Caucus either miscounted the votes or assumed someone in the minority would vote for it. But, the bill only got 20 yes votes, not the 21 needed to pass a bill in the house. The House Minority probably realized the Majority didn’t have the votes and all voted “NO” to cause embarrassment. The bill will likely be voted on again, and passed, but this mistake shows just how shaky things are for the House Majority.
Overheard in the Capitol this week regarding Governor Bill Walker and the proposed gasline. “When Walker talks about the gasline he gets a look in his eyes that must be exactly the same look the 9/11 hijackers had right before impact.” Wow! Good thing the Landmine protects its sources.
What Would Trump’s Nickname Be
We all know how Trump assigns nicknames to his political enemies. This got me thinking, what would he call Alaska’s legislators? We will feature several a week until we get through all 60. If you have any ideas, send me an email at [email protected]
Senator Natasha von Imhof – Princess Natasha
Senator Lyman Hoffman – Lyin’ Lyman
Senator Dennis Egan – Dennis the Menace
Representative Jason Grenn – Get along Grenn
Representative Chris Birch – Corporate Chris
The Alaska Republican Party (ARP) held their state convention this weekend at the Anchorage Hilton. Delegates from all over the state showed up to conduct party business. Tuckerman Babcock (Supreme Leader) ran unopposed for Party chair and was re-elected. Glenn Clary was elected as vice-chair. He beat out Jon Faulkner and Alex Gimarc. Vivian Stiver was elected as secretary and Trevor Shaw was elected as assistant secretary. Both ran unopposed.
Unlike previous conventions, there was very little drama this year. Great for the ARP. Not so much for the Landmine…
John Binkley made this big announcement on Friday:
John Binkley makes big announcement at Alaska Republican Party State Convention. #GameChanger
Posted by The Alaska Landmine on Friday, March 9, 2018
It got a lot of laughs but many are hoping he runs for governor. However, word is his wife is against him doing it. Too bad she is not on board like Charlie Huggins wife, Becky. She really wanted Charlie to run but he dropped out of the race earlier this year. Wait a minute, maybe a wife swap is on order. #WifeSwap
Overheard at the convention was former Party Boss Randy Ruedrich saying that Judy Eledge, President of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club is “unfixable.” If you know Judy, I’m sure she took that as a badge of honor.
Here is a pic taken at the convention of Marcus Sanders, candidate for State House, Terre Gales, former Anchorage Assembly candidate and chair of the Dunleavy Independent Expenditure, and Senator David Wilson:
Public service announcement to Republicans – These are all different people. #MindBlown
The Independent Expenditure, Dunleavy for Alaska, had an event at Fat Ptarmigan on Thursday night. Many Republicans were in attendance. Lots of free food and booze! They are definitely not afraid to spend the money they’ve raised. As it was winding down someone asked if they were still serving booze. Another person responded, “Terre is still here so yes!” He is the chair of the Dunleavy IE and signs the checks.
Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan was there as well. He told me the fire at McGinley’s (the downtown Anchorage pub he’s part owner of) last week was just a ceiling fan fire and they were back open 24 hours later. He commented, “I give great props to the Anchorage Fire Department on their timely response.” Not sure if Sullivan was around downtown during the fire but I suspect that if he was he waited until AFTER the fire was put out to show up. Sullivan and the unions had a not great relationship when he was mayor.
Alaska Democrats held their regional caucus on Saturday at UAA. They elected a number of regional positions, including Theresa Obermeyer as Treasurer! They had a rather odd way of voting. When it was time to vote for a position, they made the candidates turn their back to the crowd so no one could see who was voting. I commented to someone they should get the clickers the Republicans use to vote that show the results on a big screen. They responded, “We don’t have the Republican corporate money to afford those!” Damn.
Rumor has it that Iditarod musher Dee Dee Jonrowe is thinking of challenging Representative David Eastman (R – Wasilla) in the Republican primary this August. A high profile Valley Republican said, “We are sick of the ginger.” This could be a really interesting race.
This Week’s Loose Unit
There were not as many candidates as usual this week. Word is everyone is on notice and they don’t want to be named a Loose Unit in the Landmine. Sad! This week’s winner is newly confirmed Senator Mike Shower (R – Wasilla). Shower was confirmed by senate Republicans after a long and bizarre process to fill the seat that Mike Dunleavy resigned. Few know much about Shower other than that he flies for FedEx and was an Air Force fighter pilot with the call sign “Dozer” (the Landmine will find out the origins of the call sign later).
Soon after he was confirmed, Shower voted against a motion by Senator Wielechowski discharging his PFD bill from the Judiciary Committee. Many of Shower’s constituents were displeased with his vote. How does he respond? By declining to join the Republican Senate Majority! After all the back and forth about who the Republicans should pick to replace Dunleavy, they end up going with a guy who refuses to join their caucus. Classic Loose Unit move!
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 [email protected]