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Alex DeMarban

Republican Dan Sullivan will be Alaska’s newest U.S. senator, but outgoing Sen. Mark Begich said he’ll work in Washington until the last minute to push through legislation that will benefit Alaska.

The Senate plans to adjourn Dec. 11. In his last days, Begich hopes to pass a variety of bills he sponsored or supports, including ones that would help fishermen, subsistence hunters and tribal communities.

Alaska Dispatch News caught up with Begich on Thursday for an interview. He describes why he believes he lost after one term, discusses the infamous Jerry Active ad and the loss of a seat on the important Senate Appropriations committee, and expands on his hopes and fears for Alaska with a Republican majority sweeping into the Senate in January...

Alex DeMarban

Gov.-elect Bill Walker is moving quickly to assemble his cabinet, naming a former head of the U.S. Geological Survey to lead the Department of Natural Resources and a former state oil and gas property assessor to lead the Department of Revenue.

Both have long backgrounds in Alaska and considerable experience in dealing with the Legislature, local governments, and the oil industry and other elements of private enterprise in Alaska.

Mark Myers, now a key figure at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in research, is to be the natural resources commissioner, while Randall Hoffbeck, now on a mission to Kenya, is to lead the Revenue Department...

Dermot Cole,Alex DeMarban

Gov.-elect Bill Walker and running mate Byron Mallott take office in a little more than a week, but the celebration won’t last long for a state dangerously dependent on plunging oil prices and a savings account that could soon vanish.

That dose of economic reality was the takeaway message as the pair’s three-day transition conference began Friday night in Anchorage, a gathering of Alaskans from across the state notable for its diversity, with more than 250 delegates who will discuss policy ideas for the new administration crossing political, age, racial and geographical boundaries...

Alex DeMarban

Amid a batch of positive news linked to his major energy initiatives, outgoing Gov. Sean Parnell gave what may be a swan-song speech before a supportive crowd on Wednesday, saying he has worked aggressively with Alaskans to create economic opportunity across the state.

The speech at the Resource Development Council’s annual meeting came just after the state held a huge lease sale of North Slope oil field tracts that was one of the largest in history, bringing in about $60 million in high bids and prompting observers to credit the oil-production tax rewrite Parnell pushed through the Legislature in 2013...

Alex DeMarban

Energy giant BP on Tuesday closed the sale of assets related to four oil fields it operates on Alaska’s North Slope, in a deal with Hilcorp Energy previously announced at up to $1.5 billion.

“With the approval of state and federal regulators, Hilcorp is now the operator of the Milne Point, Endicott and the Northstar oil fields and associated pipelines,” said Janet Weiss, president of BP Alaska, in a presentation to the Resource Development Council in Anchorage on Wednesday...

Alex DeMarban

With less than two weeks before his swearing-in as Alaska’s newest governor, independent Bill Walker’s effort to take the helm from Gov. Sean Parnell is beginning to take shape, including the news that his chief of staff will be former Fairbanks North Star Borough mayor Jim Whitaker.

Key to Walker’s upcoming transition effort is the expected gathering in Anchorage this weekend of some 250 Alaskans from around the state. The group, including experts and stakeholders from various policy areas, will help shape goals for the administration on 17 subcommittees discussing oil and gas, fisheries, economic development, natural resources, administration and other topics...

Alex DeMarban

With Matt Claman’s narrow victory boosting Democratic numbers in the Alaska House, the Democratic minority will nearly double its representation in standing committees where bills are considered before they reach the floor.

That should reduce the chance Republican measures might be “rammed” through committees with little discussion, something that happened with House Bill 77 in 2013, said Rep. Chris Tuck, leader of the minority caucus. That bill, designed to streamline the process for issuing water and land-use permits, died in the Senate last year after receiving harsh reviews from the public...

Alex DeMarban

After holding on to dwindling hope for days, Sen. Mark Begich on Monday conceded he had lost his U.S. Senate race to Republican Dan Sullivan.

With the concession coming nearly two weeks after the Nov. 4 general election and with few votes left to count, the statement was largely a formality.

The Associated Press called the race nearly a week ago. Soon after, Sullivan attended orientation meetings in D.C. to prepare to take office and voted for Republican leaders in the new Senate majority that takes power in January.

Through it all, Begich refused to back down, drawing heat from critics although his campaign believed key areas of the state might give him a last-minute surge to put him in the lead...

Alex DeMarban

Sounding relaxed after a bruising campaign and a hurried flight to Washington, Alaska’s U.S. senator-in-waiting met with members of the Republican Senate majority on Thursday, giving him a chance to pitch for committee assignments he wants and to be inspired about the possibility of upcoming changes he said will benefit Alaska.

Sullivan, who could soon officially be declared the election winner over Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, is expected to be part of a new Republican majority in the U.S. Senate that swept into office on a wave of voter discontent with President Obama...

Alex DeMarban

Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker maintained his lead after thousands of additional votes were counted Friday, leading the Associated Press to declare the race for Walker over Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

Walker, running with Democrat Byron Mallott on an independent ticket, held a narrow advantage for the entire race starting on election night Nov. 4.

At the end of the counting on Friday, Walker led by 4,634 votes or 1.7 percent, with about 270,000 total votes counted.

The ticket is expected to become the state's first non-party team to win a gubernatorial race...

Alex DeMarban