The Sunday Minefield – September 11, 2022

It’s a sad day because it’s the twenty first anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It doesn’t feel like it has been that long for those of us who lived through it. Never forget. The November 8 general election is less than two months away. The field is now officially set as the withdrawal deadline was Monday (September 5) at 5 pm. Eleven legislative candidates and one candidate for U.S. House withdrew. Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) announced the amount of the PFD at an event in Palmer on Thursday. And a critical audit of CARES Act grants the state gave to Alaska businesses was released this week.

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Field set for November general election after several withdrawals

The following is an excerpt from this week’s edition of the Alaska Political Report. You can click here for more information about the Alaska Political Report. A subscription is $1,299/year per organization. Discounted pricing is available for non-profits and government entities. We will be providing extensive election coverage this year in addition to our session coverage. If you have any questions or would like to subscribe, please email jeff@akpoliticalreport.com.

The withdrawal deadline for the November general election was on Monday at 5 pm. A total of 12 candidates withdrew – eleven from legislative races and one from the U.S. House race. Republican Tara Sweeney, the fourth place finisher in the 22 candidate U.S. House primary, withdrew. This resulted in the fifth place primary finisher, Libertarian Chris Bye, being moved up to the top-four ranked choice general election. Sweeney got 3.77% in the primary. Bye got 0.62%.

Eleven candidates withdrew from nine legislative races (59/60 seats are up). The only legislative race that had more than four candidates in the primary was the House seat that Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Adam Wool is not seeking re-election for. Independent Tim Parker, the third place finisher in the race with 17.64%, withdrew. This resulted in Alaska Constitution Party candidate Kieran Brown being moved up to the top-four ranked choice general election. Brown finished in fifth with 2.01%. Brown is up against Democrat Ashley Carrick, who finished first in the primary with 41.03%, Republican Kevin McKinley, who finished second in the primary with 27.55%, and Republican Ruben McNeill, who finished fourth in the primary with 11.77%.

Hers is a summary of the other withdrawals:

  • Democrat Drew Cason withdrew from the open East Anchorage Senate race. Cason finished fourth in the primary with 3.37%. This leaves three candidates: Anchorage Democratic Rep. Geran Tarr, Democrat Forrest Dunbar, and Republican Andrew Satterfield. Dunbar finished first in the primary with 49.38%. Tarr only got 15.35% while Satterfield got 31.9%.
  • Republicans Joe Wright and Clayton Trotter both withdrew from the open Eagle River Senate race. Wright finished third in the primary with 11.3%. Trotter finished fourth with 6.9%. This leaves the two Eagle River Republican representatives – Rep. Kelly Merrick and Rep. Ken McCarty – in a heads up match for the seat. Merrick finished first in the primary with 53.14%. McCarty finished second with 28.67%.
  • Independent Shevaun Meggitt withdrew from the Ketchikan House race. Meggitt finished third in the primary with 3.91%. This leaves a heads up match between Ketchikan Independent Rep. Dan Ortiz and Republican Jeremy Bynum. Ortiz finished first in the primary with 52.41%. Bynum finished second with 43.68%.
  • Democrat Sue Levi withdrew from the open South Anchorage House race. Levi finished second in the primary with 23.43%. This leaves three candidates: Republican Craig Johnson, Democrat Caroline Storm, and Libertarian Mike Insalaco. Johnson finished first in the primary with 49.46%. Storm finished third with 22.5% and Insalaco finished fourth with 4.6%.
  • Alaska Independence Party candidate Timothy Huit withdrew from the Taku/Campbell House race. Huit finished third wit 6.41%. This leaves a heads up match between Anchorage Democratic Rep. Andy Josephson and Republican Kathy Henslee. Henslee finished first in the primary with 46.81%. Josephson finished second with 46.78% – a one vote difference.
  • Republican Joel McKinney and Alaska Constitution Party candidate Richard Beckes both withdrew from the open West Anchorage House race. McKinney finished third in the primary with 10.11%. Beckes finished fourth with 2.18%. This leaves a heads up match between Democrat Jennie Armstrong and Republican Liz Vazquez. Armstrong finished first in the primary with 53.24%. Vazquez finished second with 34.48%.
  • Independent Ian Sharrock withdrew from the open East Anchorage House race that Anchorage Democratic Rep. Liz Snyder is not seeking re-election for. Sharrock finished third in the primary with 5.16%. This leaves a heads up match between Democrat Donna Mears and Republican Forrest Wolfe. Mears finished first in the primary with 47.86%. Wolfe finished second with 46.98% – a 43 vote difference.
  • Republican Lisa Simpson withdrew from the open East Anchorage House race. Simpson finished third in the primary with 21.72%. This leaves a heads up match between Democrat Ted Eischeid and Republican Stanley Wright. Eischeid finished first in the primary with 43.08%. Wright finished second with 35.2%.

Of the 59 legislative races (40 House, 19 Senate), seven are uncontested, 30 have two candidates, 19 have three candidates, and just 3 have four candidates. For the legislative races with two candidates, ranked choice voting will not be a factor – whoever gets the most votes wins. So for the 37 races with one or two candidates, or 62.7% of all legislative races, ranked choice voting will not apply. For the races with three or four candidates, if any candidate gets 50% plus one on the first round they win. Based on primary results, several of the races with three and four candidates will likely be decided in the first round.

Other Happenings

Governor Dunleavy announced the amount of the PFD on Thursday (9/8/2022) at Three Bears in Palmer. The amount each eligible Alaskan will receive is $3,284. They payouts will begin on September 20 – a month earlier than usual. Dunleavy has repeatedly stated that this is the largest dividend in the program’s 41-year history. While that is true nominally, the 2008 dividend plus the energy rebate was $3,269 – $15 less than this year PFD. But when you factor inflation in, the real value of the 2008 PFD today is almost $4,500. The 2008 dividend included a $1,200 energy rebate. This year’s PFD includes a $650 energy rebate. It would have been $1,300 but half of the rebate amount failed to pass with House by one vote.

An audit of the Small Business Relief Program by the Alaska Division of Legislative Audit was released this week. And it’s not good. This is the program the state used $282 million of CARES Act funds for to give grants to small businesses. In addition to issues with applying for grants and getting them out, the audit found a high percentage of grants had problems or were unallowable. From the audit:

Results of testing found a high rate of unallowable grant awards. Auditors tested 155 grants and identified at least one error for 39 percent of the grants tested. The program design increased the risk of unallowable grants and post-payment controls were ineffective. In total, 13 percent of the grant amounts tested were unallowable. The audit did not find evidence that grants were awarded in violation of the State’s ethics laws.

The program gave grants to 5,754 businesses. Not surprisingly, a lot of politically connected businesses got grants. If you want to look at a list of all the grants, you can click here and then under “Latest Reports” click on ” Alaska Coronavirus Air, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Small Business Relief Program (Searchable Grant Listing).”

An “Ultra MAGA rally” was held in Big Lake yesterday. There were not a lot of people in attendance but the ones who were there were committed! The event was live streamed by Politadick and included
“Special Guests Alaska Grand Jury, Sarah Palin for Congress & David Eastman for House.” The Sarah Palin interview starts at 49 minutes. The grand jury guy starts at 1:33:57. Best I can tell the guy thinks anyone can call a grand jury to indict people. It’s worth watching!

Last week Suzanne Downing wrote an article that claims Representative Kevin McCabe (R – Big Lake) was the victim of a “weaponized” assessor’s office. They came out to look at his 40 acre property that has not been assessed for its value since 2013. A closer inspection reveals that McCabe has been massively underpaying his property taxes for years. McCabe has opted to have his name masked from his property tax records, which is something cops, judges, and elected officials do sometimes. But his property tax information shows he has been paying around $1,300 a year in property taxes for years. It also shows his house is only 42% complete. But since 2013 the House has been completed along with a bunch of other developments on the property. Rather that inform the Matanuska-Susitna Borough about his property upgrades, he screams victim when someone finds out he has been cheating for years. What a guy!

This Week’s Loose Unit 

Mr. property tax dodger Kevin McCabe was the leading contender for this week’s Loose Unit until a development this afternoon on the Kenai Peninsula. This week’s Loose Unit is Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, with honorable mentions for Suzanne Downing, Dan Fagan, Michael Dukes, and all the other Pierce defenders. You may recall Charlie Pierce resigned as mayor in late August to “focus on his gubernatorial campaign.” I reported the real reason he reigned was due to a workplace harassment issue. After, Downing, Dukes, Fagan, and many more Pierce defenders claimed I made it up. Say what you want about me but I don’t make stuff up. I report real shit while Suzanne Downing and the others make up shit.

Anyhoo, this afternoon the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly held a special meeting to discus releasing a confidential report about the workplace harassment claim. After an executive session they declined to release the report but did release a statement about what was discussed in a prior executive session on the matter. The statement confirms my original reporting, that Pierce was asked to resign because of the workplace harassment he engaged in. Extremely loose. And trust me, when the rest of this comes out it is going to get really loose.

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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Brian
22 days ago

So, McCabe the election-denier and Covid conspiracy-theorist is also a property-tax dodger? The people of Big Lake — and the rest of the state — deserve better than to have this clown in office.

District8
22 days ago
Reply to  Brian

Doyle Holmes has never looked better. If McCabe has been short-changing the borough and his fellow citizens he does not deserve to be ranked on anyone’s ballot.

District8
22 days ago

Andrew Halcro has rightly called Rep. McCabe a “narcissistic blowhard”. His epic smackdown of McCabe’s legislative idiocy is at the 20:45 mark of this podcast from March.

“I don’t know what broken wheel this lug nut fell off of …” Hilarious!

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1773395/10206238-with-all-due-respect-episode-53

Tea for two
22 days ago

So according to Downing, Rep. McCabe doesn’t deny being a tax cheat, but instead wants to draw attention to it by pathetically saying it’s someone else’s fault? Sounds like he’s in way over his head. McCabe’s temper and anger issues are well known around the capital. Perhaps if he had a better handle on them, he wouldn’t have embarrassed himself in court last week. Word on the street is that McCabe got spun up into a hissy fit by a 20-something woman lawyer who exposed him for the arrogant, weak, blustering bully he is. Looking forward to hearing the recording… Read more »

Lynn Willis
22 days ago

While you would think an elected official would have the courage and honesty to “lead by example” to make sure he is paying his fair share, there is a distinct difference between “tax avoidance” which is legal and “tax evasion” which is not. Who is responsible for looking into the inaction of the assessor and the motives for his actions to see if any “special treatment” was afforded? If the blame lies with the taxpayer who calls to prosecute a property tax “evader in that jurisdiction? Certainly not the party that sees no real reason to fund the government other… Read more »

Valley Jetfuel
21 days ago
Reply to  Lynn Willis

And road funds. Don’t forget road funds!

jjalaska
20 days ago

You all need to watch this little gem that was posted on your FB post, Landfill: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1122234515339903&ref=sharing

Mayor Edna schooling everyone.

Looks like Kelsey is having a conversation with himself here. Dude, your man crush on McCabe is an incredible thing to watch. Just wow, give it up – he’s taken, you’re embarrassing yourself!!

Jjalaska
19 days ago

I read the comments on your FB post, called and confirmed what was posted about his property. This is a 1br1ba COMPLETELY OFF THE GRID home. I also found out that the Capitol stories aren’t pretty about Kelsey. He has harassed many many people – over many years. I just listened to Tom Anderson Show podcast and even he was accosted by Kelsey Anyway, I’d happily vote for McCabe if I could.