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Amanda Coyne: Election fun is breaking out all over

Amanda CoyneThe New York Times

Last week was supposed to be my last column, this time around, about the Alaska Legislature. So imagine my surprise, touched with dismay, that for five days after they were supposed to have left, some sort of strange stasis overtook the bunch. Until Friday, that gavel was tucked away in a drawer somewhere, perhaps next to House Speaker Mike Chenault's cattle prod and Sen. Cathy Giessel's egg timer, behind Fred Dyson's condoms, atop Pete Kelly's pregnancy sticks, embedded in Sen. Hollis French's croissants. Sacre Bleu!

The House blamed the Senate and the Senate blamed the House and everyone was fuming that Rep. Lora Reinbold skipped town on Monday to spend her 50th birthday in Dubrovnik. For one, had she been in Juneau, she probably could have gotten them out of there on Thursday, saving the taxpayers another $30,000, and perhaps saving KABATA, which as of Friday is all but KAPUT.

Secondly, where in the world is Dubrovnik?

But it's all good. The five extra days in Juneau cost only about $150,000, and what's another $150,000 between friends with great government-funded benefits? After all, it's only oil money. And if the state has learned nothing else since Prudhoe began to gush in 1968, it's that oil money comes and oil money goes.

Lately, it's been going. Deficit spending began in fiscal year 2012 and hasn't stopped. The state's officially blown through one-third of the money that was amassed during the peak oil prices of the Palin years, when maybe not coincidentally, the Senate majority was a bipartisan one, of which Hollis French, among others, was a member.

This is French's last term in the Legislature, where he's been since 2002. He's now going to run for lite gov. Sometimes, as smart people will, he comes across as condescending and pedantic. But he's always working for the people. He'll be missed. Also leaving is Sen. Fred Dyson, and Reps. Alan Austerman and Peggy Wilson.

Adieu from all of us.

And now that the session's over, the real fun begins! Enter stage right: once-and-always Senate candidate Joe Miller, who kicked off his campaign in Wasilla on Monday. I didn't go to Mead Treadwell's kickoff, but I saw pictures and a video clip. I did go to DNR Dan Sullivan's, which was very nice, very polite, and unlike the Miller gathering, everyone appeared well shaved.

If a Hollywood producer wanted to film a Tea Party candidate kickoff, he couldn't have done better than Miller's. Liberty. Guns. God. American. Balloons. Banners. Amens. Whiskers.

Perhaps Miller's reputation is too damaged from his last run to make a mark. But if Monday is any indication, people will have fun trying.

More fun, if you're wired that way: GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan spent the weekend as Lt. Col. Dan Sullivan as he headed out for Marine Reserves training. As he did, Treadwell's whisper campaign about Sullivan being soft on guns is turning into a buzz.

In an op-ed in the Peninsula Clarion, former legislator Gail Phillips, who's on Treadwell's advisory committee and whose daughter works for the campaign, reminded readers that Sullivan didn't support the Stand Your Ground bill that passed last session. You remember, the proposal to let you shoot someone in the back as he's trying to get away. Next target, I'm told, is Sullivan's support for Brazilian waxes, I mean Brazilian biofuels, when he served in the U.S. State Department.

More election fun: The Dems are pulling out the stops for retired Col. Laurie Hummel, who's challenging Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux. A packed Wednesday fund-raiser at the home of Tom Begich, brother of Mark, brought big-time D supporters like Rocky Plotnick, Nick Moe, Kay Brown, Tim Steele and a few Begich staffers. Hummel's campaign treasurer, Paula Delaiarro, didn't tell me how much she brought in, except to say the event was "wildly successfully."

A Jeopardy question worth $800 asked on the show Wednesday: "This State's Only Representative In The House Is Don Young -- Who Hails From Fort Yukon." You know you've arrived when you've made Jeopardy.

From the Whittier borough: City managers have it rough in the town dubbed the "strangest" in Alaska. Two have come and gone in the last few years. Both were pretty much drummed out of town, along, most recently, with the mayor. Chalk it up to isolation. To long, snowy winters. To an overly politically involved citizenry where nearly everyone lives in one of two buildings. The latest manager, Don Moore, is only temporary but he has high hopes for the time he'll be there. Moore is a hired gun city-manager. In the past few years, he's worked for Dillingham, Wasilla and Cordova. He's been in Whittier for three weeks, and is already appreciating the town.

"It feels like when you go through that tunnel, you leave everything behind and nothing in the world matters except for Whittier," Moore said.

Perhaps the same thing happens when you walk through the fortress walls of Dubrovnik?

Independent journalist Amanda Coyne writes about Alaska politics on her blog amandacoyne.com. You can contact her at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com

 



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