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John Havelock: Initiatives move helps oil companies in August, Begich in November

What a relief. "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe when the legislature is in session." But they are adjourned. Among legislative actions, the best political gossip arises from the leadership choice to hang out for a few days after the ninety. Was it all that complicated to find the middle numbers on the education bill? Of course any secondary motives will be hotly denied by those involved. Still skeptics and cynics will scoff at denials, firmly convinced that, after quiet instruction from the lobbyists for TAPS big three oil companies, the delay was deliberate.

The effect of course is to send ballot initiative questions on marijuana, minimum wage increase and the coffin nail on the Pebble mine to November's general election while leaving the Prop One referendum repeal of Parnell's law giving billions in tax relief to the big three alone on the August primary ballot.

All of the three, postponed, initiative measures, while enjoying a range of support among Alaskans, are likely to bring out Democratic votes from those otherwise too busy with their private concerns, like scraping together a living, to give much of a hoot otherwise about voting. There must have been a lot of smiles in Senator Begich's office when the legislature ran past its 90 day allotment and frowning among the Republican candidates for the US Senate.

From the skeptic's view, this engineered initiative reallocation must mean that the corporate oil trio place a higher value on the billions in yield from Governor Parnell's tax reductions than they do on dumping Begich for the benefit of the national Republican Party. This makes sense since Begich, like any national Alaska representative, is pro oil including Alaska's corporate trio. The political value of being pro-oil far exceeds any marginal value for Begich in getting involved in a state budget issue.

BP stays away from American national politics- note the beating it got from its Gulf spill, compared with Exxon's management of the Gulf of Alaska spill. But Exxon and Conoco are national as well as Alaskan players. Their allies managing Mitch O'Connell's efforts to take over the US Senate must have missed this byplay.

Meanwhile, Tea-Party Joe Miller, opens his campaign on home country at Wasilla with prayers, music and a better formed method of speaking with jokes as well as guns and Jesus. Cleveland Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell both cast uneasy glances over the shoulder at Joe's prospects. Remember he did beat Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary. If they all stay in a close one, Joe's 34 percent or better can win the three cornered race.

Will Sarah Palin join Joe's rallies in Fairbanks, Mat-Su and the Kenai? Tea-Party enthusiasts are not moved by outside critics. Sarah may be despised in some quarters but her colorful talk can still bring out the faithful. Then there is the newsy bit that some fellow with money is encouraging her to run for the Senate in Alaska herself. Sarah will know that that idea is too far out even though she likes the publicity.

Meanwhile, what are Cleveland Dan and Mead Treadwell going to do? (OK, one could use the old saw "Tread Meanswell" but it's been around too long.) Governor Parnell clearly prefers Dan, which helped on the early push ("Dan who? Must be the mayor"), but doesn't count for much now. What does count is money and Dan is way ahead and don't stop counting.

Both these gentlemen are nice guys. Either would do Alaska credit in the US Senate. Money aside (cynical laughter), they are policy peas in a pod, Harvard and Yale products meeting every conservative standard, including firm resistance to pro-choice feminism.

If you follow the money, Dan will edge ahead of Mead but what if primary polling shows Joe coming up fast? Will either Dan or Mead bow out for the other? Can Joe be bought off? Not likely. Is all for naught? Sen. Begich is easily the most skilled politician in Alaska and look what the oil trio gave him! Most fun elections in years.

Anchorage lawyer John Havelock admits to being a Democrat and usually votes that way.



By JOHN HAVELOCK