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Amanda Coyne: Bring on the electile dysfunction

  • Author: Amanda Coyne
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published May 3, 2014

It was inevitable, perhaps, that one of the three GOP Senate candidates and/or their surrogates would go there. Last week, adman Art Hackney, who runs the pro-GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan super PAC, released an anti-Begich radio ad taking on the Begich campaign's recent commercials that show him all virile-like, zooming on a snowmachine through the North Slope, talking about the ground being penetrated, rigs that are going to be raised, oil that's going to be pumped, homestyle country twang in the backdrop, music that Hackney's ad says sounds straight out of an "erectile dysfunction" commercial.

There is a House candidate in Ohio who has an ad that goes after Speaker John Boehner for "electile" dysfunction but I'd venture to say that Hackney's ad is the first that takes ED straight on. In any case, once you've heard Hackney's ad, you'll never see the Begich commercial, or that awful ED commercial, in the same way again.

Speaking of dysfunctional: Alaska's Republican Party convention is in Juneau this weekend. Juneau? Why there? Don't you have to buy a plane ticket to get there? Isn't it expensive? For the masses?

Exactly. As many in the state know, when you really want to get things done far from the eyes of the masses -- and still want whiskey on the rocks to cap off your evening -- you head to Juneau.

Some might remember how the masses, loosely called the tea party but with a uniquely Alaska twist, took over the party in 2012. Others remember all too well how it ended at a year later, when the vice chair turned chair changed the locks on the doors to the Anchorage GOP headquarters, skipped town and threatened legal action if anyone tried to pull a Watergate break-in.

For some, as a description of one rowdy populist campaign put it, it seemed like "the galoots were loose."

The new chair, Peter Goldberg, may not be a galoot. But he isn't gaining points for style, I'm told. He's prone to bellowing, "Attention," drill sergeant style when people aren't alert enough for his tastes. "He needs to chill out," I was told. Perhaps he's suffering from something, something that could be cured with some music, maybe something homestyle, with a country twang.

Relatively tea-party free, the convention began in earnest at 7:30 a.m. on Friday with a Senate forum including all three Republican candidates, one of whom has the firm backing of the "Republican establishment," who really want Treadwell and Miller out of the race so they can get on with beating Begich. To greet the bleary audience was a poll on each chair, showing Dan Sullivan leading the pack, the intent of which was to emasculate Miller and Treadwell. Reports say that both, however, appeared to stand erect and hold their own. Miller declined to say whether he would support the Republican nominee if it weren't him. The crowd gasped.

No matter what you think about him, Miller doesn't need any country twang in the background.

In any event, Goldberg was re-elected as chair and vice chair will be Frank McQueary, whose birthday was Saturday.

Speaking of holding their own, women can do so also, until they don't. Rep. Lindsey Holmes, a Democrat who chose to turn Republican, will not run again for her seat in West Anchorage. Word is all the criticism for the switch was too much for her. A shame. She was a good legislator who knew how to pass good bills.

And then there's Clare Ross, who was running against Holmes. She decided to make the switch to run for Senate and leave the seat to Matt Claman before Holmes announced that she was bowing out. Pollster and political consultant Ivan Moore said that Ross did so at the bequest of "Democratic Party pawn makers," except that, because he's a Brit, it came out as "Democratic porn makers." Another shame. She also would have made a good legislator,

And we'll be minus yet another strong woman soon. Enstar CEO Colleen Starring will be leaving Alaska for a job in Canada. No word on her replacement. Starring started her career as a receptionist and worked her way up through the male-dominated world of utilities. She's tough, smart and beautiful and she'll be missed.

Also leaving the state is Alaska House Minority Spokesman Mark Gnadt, who's headed for Switzerland to take a job with a conservation organization. He's not as beautiful as Colleen but he's great at what he does and he'll also be missed.

Finally, the governor's race is heating up. Two super PACs have filed with APOC to get involved in the Alaska governor's race by boosting the candidacy of Democratic candidate Byron Mallott (Mallott-One Alaska PAC) and independent candidate Bill Walker (Walker for Alaska's Future). To date, no one has created one to support the campaign of Gov. Parnell, who appears to be raising enough money on his own that he doesn't need a surrogate speaking for him.

Not yet, anyway. The election is eons away, with lots of time ripe for some "electile" dysfunction.

Independent journalist Amanda Coyne writes about Alaska politics on her blog You can contact her at

Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly reported that Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller said he wouldn't support the Republican nominee if he lost the primary. Miller actually said he wouldn't commit now to supporting the candidate, leaving the issue unresolved.