State Sen. John Cowdery is an old-time Alaskan who has a long history with Bill Allen, former head of Anchorage oil field services company Veco Corp.
Cowdery grew up in Missouri on his grandparents' farm, a place without electricity, a telephone or any modern equipment, according to a write-up on his personal Web site.
Cowdery came to Alaska in 1950. He and his wife, Juanita, have been married 57 years. More than once, Senate Republicans gathered at the Cowdery home on Lake Otis Parkway to pick their leaders.
Cowdery used to run an excavation business and was a city public works executive under Mayor Tom Fink.
A Republican whose district includes a stretch of South Anchorage and the Lower Hillside, Cowdery has been elected three times to the House and three times to the Senate, serving 14 years in all. He is not running again. His term ends in January.
He's had powerful positions in the Senate leadership, including Rules Committee chairman, serving as gatekeeper for which bills reach the full Senate for a vote. In the last two legislative sessions, he wasn't the prime sponsor of any bill. But in the previous Legislature he sponsored several, including one in 2005 pushed by Anchorage poker legend Perry Green to allow gambling card rooms. It passed the House but died in the Senate.
At the corruption trial of former House Speaker Pete Kott last summer, Allen testified that Cowdery was part of his inner circle.
"John Cowdery was -- he didn't drink a lot, but him and I seen each other a - a - a lot. He had the same makeup, I guess, of me," Allen testified in the Kott trial. They both were contractors and talked about the tools they used, like Caterpillar equipment.
In 2001, when Cowdery's 50-foot boat, the Johnita II, sank in its Whittier Harbor slip, Cowdery turned to Allen to help him deal with the mess, according to some of those involved. Veco paid for the boat to be towed by water to Veco's yard on the Anchorage waterfront, according to Dave Martinsen, a Wasilla resident who towed the boat around for Cowdery. Martinsen said the check came from Veco.
At one point Allen agreed to repair the boat and become a partner in it with Cowdery, according to Anchorage furniture maker Ernie Hall. Cowdery talked to him about making a custom table for the boat. But Allen later backed out of the boat deal.