One Last Vote

So it wasn’t a swing vote, but this is still pretty cool:

[Mary] Nelson lives in Adak. The town had its own polling station for the first time this year, but the island is so far west, it’s in a different time zone from the rest of Alaska. That pretty much guaranteed that the results of the Presidential election would be a foregone conclusion by the time the polls closed. Nelson says she knew her vote wouldn’t swing the national race, but she wanted to do her part anyways.

Adak on the map
(Map showing where Adak Island is located. Also, look how big Alaska is! It really isn’t small and located off of the coast of California with Hawaii, as many maps like to pretend.)

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Alaska Senate Leadership

Alaska State CapitolWasting no time for celebration, incumbent and newly-elected Alaska Republican senators quickly organized themselves for the next legislative session. They called an impromptu press conference the afternoon following the election, in which they announced their leadership positions and spoke generally of their agenda to “cut state spending, cut oil taxes to increase production, and spur in-state use of natural gas“.

Charlie “Alaska-Needs-A-State-Gun” Huggins will serve as the body’s President when the legislation session convenes in January. Additional leadership positions include John Coghill as Senate Majority Leader, Lesil McGuire as chair of the Rules Committee, with Kevin Meyer and Pete Kelly serving as Finance co-Chairs.

Notably, yet not surprisingly, absent from the press conference were previous Senate President Gary Stevens and Senator Bert Stedman. Those senators held their own against a Governor and State House that were adamant on offering sizable tax cuts to the oil industry. Critics of that plan were concerned with a loss of state revenue and no guarantees of increased production from the industry.

****** UPDATE ******
Senators Stedman and Stevens have joined the caucus and have accepted leadership positions.
Stevens will chair the Education Committee and Stedman will chair Health and Social Services.

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I know APOC is probably busy….

APOC logo… but you’d think they could give someone a response to a serious inquiry within at least a week’s time. Never have I longed so much for at least a canned robo-response, or maybe even an Out-of-Office Reply.

I sent the following to APOC on October 29 (one week ago today):

I’m trying to find out more information about a new PAC that has formed in Alaska. I searched the APOC database but couldn’t find anything. If the group, Liberty for Alaskans, are registered with APOC can you help me figure out how to review their report/disclosure information? They are requesting contributions at this website:

Thank you for your assistance.

I sent the email to, which is the general email address listed on their “Contact Us” page. I suppose I could have filed a formal complaint, but I’m not sure if I even have one at this point.

Liberty For Alaskans is apparently a new political action committee that was recently formed by Russ Millette, which I’m assuming is the same Russ Millette that was recently elected to serve as the Alaska Republican Party’s chairperson. It’s my understanding of the structure of the Alaskan Republican Party that incoming party chairpersons immediately take over as the party’s Finance chair during the time that the outgoing party chair’s term is expiring. Their job is to learn how the party functions, as well as fund-raise for the party. Because of this, I found it peculiar that Russ Millette would be forming a PAC. It seems like all of his fundraising efforts would be focused on filling the AK GOP coffers. I mean, it is a fairly extreme election year this time around, which every legislative seat up for grabs (minus Senator Egan), and candidates all up and down the ballot.

So, if you know anything about this PAC drop me a line or leave a comment. I’ll let you know if APOC is ever bothered to respond.

************* UPDATE *************
I did receive a response from APOC (two separate responses, actually). The first response was more general and stated that the group was not registered with APOC but that it wasn’t clear if they were actually engaging in election activities. I replied with some specific questions about APOC regulations and how they might apply. I received a more thorough, and very polite, follow-up response that basically stated that the group needs to be registered before dispersing any funds in an effort to influence an election.

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Alaska Democratic Party Should Denounce Michelle Scannell

Michelle Scannell, state house candidate (District 20) running against incumbent Representative Mia Costello, created a little bit of a buzz with a tweet and a blog post last week.

The tweet linked to a post on Scannell’s campaign blog, where she elaborated on the “on her knees” comment, in a post called “Happy Alaska Day“.

My opponent is bought and paid-for by outside resource extractors who aren’t interested in what’s best for Alaska.  They want a partner like Mia.  Like a vassal hauled before the king to kiss the ring, she is willing, compliant, and on her knees, ready to submit.

Scannell told KTVA that she did nothing wrong and that there was no innuendo implied in her tweet or blog post. I find that difficult to believe. Does she and anyone involved in her campaign really expect you to believe that this is just an accidental double entendre? Maybe she’s innocent and it’s just the people that inferred she was lacing her remarks with sexual connotations that have the dirty minds. Maybe. But I don’t think so.

In another Scannell blog post, here’s how she talks about a recent debate she had with Representative Costello (the arrogance in the post speaks volumes about Scannell, but that’s not the point right now):

We last saw Mia Costello hobbling-out of yesterday’s Sand Lake Smackdown at KSKA, crying on the inside after sustaining a humiliating verbal horsewhipping from me during our half hour debate.  After giving my opponent such a thorough thrashing, you’d think Mia would know when to fold ‘em.  You would be wrong.

Accompanying the blog post was an attempt to load an image of Rep. Costello. I say “attempt”, because whoever posts content to Scannell’s website (Scannell herself?) doesn’t realize that .tiff file extensions aren’t native to common web browsers, so viewers would just see the broken image, like so:

Broken image on Scannell's website

The alt-text (used for text-only browsers, such as for the visually impaired), “What was I thinking?” had me curious what the photo was supposed to be. I checked to see what filename was being linked to and was shocked with what I saw:

Screenshot showing the offensive filename Scannell used for a picture of Costello.

The image of Rep. Costello that Scannell uploaded to her website was named:

Mia Nasty Herpes Scar

The image they intended to show was this:

Mia image from Scannell's website.

This is the image that the Scannell campaign named “mianastyherpesscar”.

I can tell by the names of the folders on Scannell’s blog that she uses WordPress as her blog-posting platform. I point this out because it’s the same platform I use and I’m very familiar with how it works. When you upload an image, you are shown the current filename of the image and given the opportunity to change it. Either Scannell or her webmaster uploaded the image with that name already given to it (she/they would have seen it when browsing to it to upload and again after it was uploaded) or it had a different filename and they re-named it to that after it was uploaded.

At the very least, the Scannell campaign knowingly uploaded the image with that filename. At the worst, they gave it that name.

There really does appear to be a pattern here, and it’s not that the Alaskan people just have dirty minds and are inferring something Scannell never intended.

This type of campaign is totally unacceptable in Alaska and the Alaska Democratic Party should pull any support they might be providing Scannell’s campaign. I do not believe this is the type of campaign that the Alaska Democratic Party (or the Alaska Republican Party) stands for, and as such, they should come out an denounce it.

UPDATE: The Scannell campaign changed the name of the file. It now reads “miaguffaw”. They still haven’t fixed the .tiff problem — and I even gave them a .jpg they could use right here! Now that step one (removing that terrible title) is complete, step two is an apology to Rep. Costello. If Michelle Scannell would like, I’d be happy to publish her apology right here.

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A Different Position For Every Audience

I was listening to Kenai Peninsula talk radio the other morning. During Duane Bannock’s “Tall, Dark, and Handsome Hour” of KSRM’s Sound-Off, Senator Cathy Giesell was invited on as a guest. As you’re probably aware, Senator Cathy Giesell sailed through a dismal challenge by KPBSD Board President Joe Arness in the Republican primary. No Democratic candidate stepped up; however, a non-partisan candidate, Ron Devon, has challenged Senator Giesell and has put together quite a campaign (more on that later). As primary elections generally go in Alaska, and other red states I’m sure, the Republican’s try to out-right each other. During the primary campaign, Giesell had plenty of cash and name recognition. Joe Arness had neither, and he didn’t really appear to be out generating the funds and creating a buzz that a serious challenger should. Arness had a campaign of about $3,500 by the end of the August primary election; Giesell had total income of more than $50,000 by the end of July. It was clear that Giesell was going to win the primary election handedly, which freed her up to focus on her general election campaign almost from the get-go.

Sen. Giesell attended a tea-party forum in Anchorage on June 25. At least part of the forum was devoted to lightning-round type questions, in which the candidates would raise either a green (yes) or a red (no) paddle following a question. One of the questions was:

Do you support complete privatization of Alaska’s school system?

The moderator repeated that the question had the word “complete” in front of privatization. Sen. Giesell, along with Senate Education Chair Sen. Kevin Meyer, both raised the green paddle. It was very clear what the question was and nobody seemed confused by it. At least one red paddle went up. Watch the video:

Fast forward to today. That independent (read: non-partisan) candidate I mentioned earlier, Ron Devon, is creating quite a buzz for himself and voters appear warm to the idea of a state senator that’s neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Not only that, but he’s been busy visiting and calling voters in the newly drawn Senate District N. In a race that early-on seemed like a shoe-in (a weak primary challenger and a non-party-backed candidate with virtually no name-recognition on the Peninsula), things are starting to get energized.

In the middle of August, Sen. Giesell couldn’t remember Devon’s name when I heard someone ask her, “Hey, who’s that independent guy that’s running against you?” Today, she certainly knows his name and her cakewalk from a couple of months ago has her now in a gallop. I think she suspected Mr. Devon would be an also-ran, a token “give people a choice”-type candidate. But Mr. Devon has turned this into a real race and, as a result,  some of the things that Sen. Giesell have said are being scrutinized and very well may come back to haunt her.

So back to the radio program. Prompted by a text message from a listener, Duane Bannock asked Sen. Giesell “You indicated support for the… and I’m quoting… complete privatization of Alaska’s school system. Is that accurate? What can you tell me about that?” Senator Giesell responded:

“That question came from an audience member, and the moderator read it and said, ‘I don’t know what that means’, he said ‘what about privatization?’  Now, Senator Meyer and I looked at each other, Senator Meyer is co-chair of the Senate Education Committee. We looked at each other and concluded that they must be referring to parental choice, which both of us advocates. That is what we just talked about earlier. Parents being able to choose which school is the best for their students. And so we put up a yes paddle.”


Following this, Bannock asked her if she supported the complete privatization of Alaska’s education system, and Giesell replied in the negative.

Now, you’ve seen the video of what really happened and you’ve heard what Senator Giesell is now claiming happened. What do you think? Did the Senator forget? Did she misspeak? Or is she desperately trying to rewrite history and moderate her views now that she realizes that this Ron Devon chap is a real candidate after all?

I do not think you should be able to get away with being one person during the primary and someone completely different during the general. Of course you’re going to try and tailor your message to your audience, but completely misrepresenting the positions that you previously boasted is something else. There’s a word for it.

It’s called lying.

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