AND IN THIS CORNER . . . The showdown we've all been expecting between warring factions of the state Republican Party officially erupts Thursday at a meeting at party offices on Fireweed Lane.
Earwigs report that outgoing Rules chair Frank McQueary, representing current party leadership, has filed "internal charges" against incoming chairman Russ Millette and his vice-chair, Debra Holle Brown. Millette and Brown were both elected at last year's party convention and are scheduled to take over Feb. 1 from long-time party power Randy Ruedrich.
According to Millette supporters, the charges against him include failure to register as a Republican until recently and failure to raise money for the party.
Really. Not raising money is apparently against party rules.
Whatever. Millette's folks call the charges "inflammatory rhetoric, distortions and baseless allegations."
Ruedrich said the meeting Thursday will "determine the validity" of the charges.
Darlings, when we clear the fog of rhetoric here, what we have is a last-ditch effort by mainstream Republicans to keep a tea party/Ron Paul faction from taking over the party -- a faction that did in fact get elected. It's a continuation of the primary battle between tea partier Joe Miller and "regular" Republican Lisa Murkowski. Miller won the primary but, against all odds, Murkowski won the general election as a write-in candidate, giving birth to a grudge that will never die among Miller-Millette supporters.
Ear's invitation says Thursday's meeting is at 5:30 p.m. at 1001 W. Fireweed Lane and is open to the public. BYOP (bring your own popcorn).
READY, SET . . . The coming week promises to be a big one for political junkies. In addition to the Republican Party faceoff, the new Legislature, including Anchorage Assembly member Harriet Drummond, is scheduled to be sworn in at midday Tuesday in Juneau. A few hours later, the Assembly will fill Harriet's seat with one of seven people who applied for the job.
But wait. There's something weird going on. According to the Assembly meeting agenda, filling the empty seat is No. 15A on the incredibly long schedule of business. True, a lot of it is just the consent agenda but why leave the seat vacant through all those votes? Why not fill it first?
Ear hates to be paranoid (though it comes naturally) but is something going on they don't want the new member to influence? Does someone want the seat-filling to run up against the mandatory adjournment? Have they already decided who'll get the seat but it's someone who is previously engaged for the first part of the meeting?
Hey, maybe it's perfectly logical and innocent, or maybe just a mistake. Ear predicts the agenda will be changed.
Anyhow, earwigs with Tuesday Night Fever are betting on Cheryl Frasca to win the seat, although one obsessed watcher predicts a 5-5 split on the first vote between Cheryl and Gordon Glaser. Ear always thought Tim Steel had an inside track but maybe the announcement that he plans to run in April put the kibosh on that.
So much agita for three months in a thankless job.
GONNA GET IT RIGHT . . . Is it true that all four legislative caucuses ordered all newly elected lawmakers to go to Juneau early to attend ethics workshops? Really? Whether they needed it or not?
IT'S THE REAL ESTATE, STUPID . . . Now that she's chair of Senate Rules and gets to assign offices, Lesil McGuire has assigned herself the office she apparently thinks she deserves -- a "ginormous" space that swallowed up the first-floor offices of two senators and required slicing Hollis French's old office in half to accommodate two minority Dems. Hollis has moved to the little office previously occupied by John Coghill, who is in the majority now and thus merits a big new office.
And how much did Lesil's renovations cost us?
STOP THE PRESSES . . . Little Billy Fulton, best known as the federal snitch in the militia case and the rent-a-bodyguard who handcuffed a local editor while protecting Joe Miller from questions, is writing a book.
Ear is stunned.
He did a couple of interviews with Huffington Post last week and wowed them with news that Honor Code Joe wore a bulletproof vest on election night (yeah, we knew that).
Did Ear mention that Bill's old Drop Zone store in Spenard is cheesy in a new way?
ON THE MOVE . . . Kevin Harun has left his legislative job with now-Sen. Berta Gardner for a "dream job" as Arctic director for the conservation group Pacific Environment.
In a note to friends, Kevin said he'll work in Anchorage and San Francisco on issues relating to Alaska, Russia and China.
OOPS . . . Ear should know better than to ask earwigs to write in. Inevitably, they do so.
Yes, it was wrong of Ear to refer to an all-Republican Senate majority. Two Democrats, Don Olson and Dennis Egan, have joined this session's ruling organization.
Shhh, listen. Hear that whirring sound? It's Gov. Bill Egan, spinning in his grave.