Alaska Ear: Strike up the band (10/27/13)

STRIKE UP THE BAND ... To no one's great surprise, big names turned out and money changed hands Wednesday at The Other Dan Sullivan's debut fundraiser for his U.S. Senate race. TODS, who's never run for elective office, is the darling of the Republican establishment, which, for unclear reasons, would rather start at zero with an unproven candidate than build on the 40ish percent Lite Gov Mead Treadwell racked up in summer polls.


The big surprise on the list of tony sponsors were the names of lobbyist Ashley Reed and former GOP chairman Randy Ruedrich, two power brokers who mostly maneuver behind the scenes.

Ruedrich explained he was barred by party rules from publicly playing favorites in primary races while he was chairman. Now he can do what he wants. And why does he want Sullivan over Treadwell, Ear asked? Randy was his usual cagey self: Sullivan is a young guy who will be a great senator for Alaska for many years, he said.


As for Ashley -- a Democrat, if Ear recalls -- he never appears on such lists, ever. Why now? All Ear can offer is a vague memory of him supporting Jay Ramras against Treadwell in the nasty lite gov race.

MONEY TALK ... TODS supporters are bragging about how much the Wednesday event at Ruby's on Northern Lights raised -- Ear doesn't have a reliable number but everyone knows these feel-good fundraisers aren't the real story in a U.S. Senate race. Keep an eye on national party and PAC money. Let's see how much TODS gets from Defending Main Street, a Republican anti-tea party PAC that said this week it's targeting the Alaska race.

IT BEGINS ... One of the guests at Dan Sullivan's Senate fundraiser was lite gov candidate Dan Sullivan. Aggggh.

As one wag noted: He (TODS) has lots of name recognition -- it's just not his name.

POLITICAL WARFARE ... Elsewhere in the U.S. Senate primary, earwigs were amused to note the co-chairs of the Treadwell campaign are signing their press releases oddly:

"Mark Hamilton, Major General USA Ret.," and "Catkin Kilcher Burton, Colonel USMC Ret."

Earwigs noticed it after TODS did his suspiciously timed and highly publicized six weeks of active Marine duty. One might think Hamilton's 12 years as president of the University of Alaska would be a better recommendation for civilian service, and Burton's life homesteading as Yule Kilcher's daughter is surely more "Alaskan."


FINALLY ... After a zillion appearances before (and behind) the Assembly on behalf of clients, attorney Dan Coffey is going for the top job himself. Coffey has invited a group of mostly old friends -- "people I've known since junior high school" -- to a shindig at Bill Bittner's home Tuesday to announce he's a 2015 candidate for mayor.

A lot of things can happen before that election but now it looks like Traini vs. Coffey, which means we'd end up with a capable mayor no matter who wins. And wouldn't that be nice.

RAH ... Don Young, Congressman for All Alaskans Except Ear and a Few Others, is now the longest serving Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. What does that mean in real terms? For one thing, it means he hasn't lived in Alaska for 40 years.

Young took the GOP longevity title when Rep. Young died last week.


Yes, d'Ears, a Rep. Bill Young from one of those swampy states, formerly held the title. Three Democrats have served longer than Our Don.

LAND USE PERMIT ... Darlings, this is wrong in so many ways. The state of Alaska owns a piece of land off the Sterling Highway, which it rents to a strip club that allegedly features naked table dancing. It bought the land in 1991 for $249,000. The land is now assessed at $123,400. Instead of evicting the tenant strip club at the time of purchase, the state let it stay and charges the owner $2,490 a year rent -- yes, that's per year, not per month.

There's a story on with all the details. Apparently DOT bought the land for a road expansion that never happened. And it didn't want to put poor Good Time Charlies out of business.

Really, d'Ears, is there anyone out there who thinks this is the whole story?

SKI BUMS ... A two-minute clip from Alaska filmmaker Ben Sturgulewski's new movie "Valhalla" has gone viral. It features naked skiing -- really -- and by lots of people -- down hills of real snow that looks really cold. Ben is co-director and, yes, he's writer Carol Sturgulewski's son.

Some of the sequences were filmed in Haines and at Eaglecrest in Juneau. You can find the clip on Huffington Post (naked-skiing segment) or see the whole film at the Bear Tooth Nov. 21.

Compiled by Sheila Toomey Message Ear at 257-4341 or

By Sheila Toomey |