Alaska Politics Blog

This is the place to talk about Alaska politics, state, local, national. Public life in the Last Frontier has rarely been more interesting -- a full slate of federal and state elections, the influence of former Gov. Sarah Palin, the usual hardball Alaska politics. Come here for news, tidbits and information, and join the discussion. We encourage lively debate, but please keep it civil and stay on point. Don't use profanity, make crude comments or attack other posters. Posts that violate the Terms of Use will be deleted. Repeat offenders will lose their ability to post comments.

New Senate organization announced - 11/7/2012 12:48 pm

Homer Revealed - 8/22/2012 2:08 pm

Seven-day countdown - 5/25/2012 8:37 pm

Anchorage city clerk resigns (UPDATED) - 5/23/2012 10:51 am

Gara to seek re-election - 5/2/2012 2:04 pm

For one lawmaker: Good news - 4/27/2012 12:20 pm

Anticipation in the Capitol - 4/26/2012 11:38 am

Election Commission finds 1/2 of precincts ran out of ballots; recommends no investigation - 4/25/2012 5:08 pm

Quick roundup of this morning's Senate race news

From Erika Bolstad in Anchorage --

Does the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee think their candidate Scott McAdams might have a fighting chance in his three-way race against Republican Joe Miller and write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski? The DSCC on Saturday dropped a commercial attacking Murkowski, called "Turned Her Back."

Nate Silver of the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight political blog wrote last night that the Alaska Senate race is likely the only one in the country that could turn from red to blue -- but they've calculated it at only a 7 percent chance.

Also, in case you missed them, all three of our Senate profiles have run: McAdams, Miller and Murkowski.

Here's the new commercial. See below for earlier posts with some of the other commercials the campaigns are airing in the final days.

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Army says soldier lacked permission to be Miller guard

From Richard Mauer in Anchorage --

The Army says a Fort Richardson soldier had not been authorized to work as a private security guard when he helped detain a journalist during a public campaign event for Senate candidate Joe Miller nearly two weeks ago.

A second active duty soldier in Miller’s security detail didn’t have current authorization as required, but had been approved to work in private security by a previous commander about two years ago, said Maj. Rodney Crum, a spokesman for the Army in Alaska.

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(UPDATED) Fagan pulled from the air after urging mass write-in campaign

UPDATE: Sarah Palin came to Fagan's defense tonight on Facebook. (This is becoming a KTUU reunion, with Fagan, Tracy and Palin all station alumni.)

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

A day after urging Alaskans to sign up as write-in candidates in the U.S. Senate race as an act of “civil disobedience,” a popular Anchorage talk show host was pulled from the air today.

KFQD 750 AM host Dan Fagan said he returned from lunch to learn that his 2 to 5 p.m. show had been canceled after a representative of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s campaign called to complain. Fagan said he’s not fired and that the status of the show will be “re-evaluated” on Monday.

The caller said “that I should be punished for electioneering and that I may have violated electioneering laws,” Fagan said.

Listen to a clip from yesterday's show

The conservative radio host, a supporter of Republican nominee Joe Miller, rallied voters to register as write-in candidates to protest an order by the Alaska Supreme Court that allows election workers to show voters a list of write-in candidates.

The decision was expected to help Murkowski’s write-in bid by making it easier for people to get her name right at the voting booth. Fagan argues that it amounts to illegal electioneering on behalf of the state by promoting a candidate who failed to win a spot on the ballot in the primary elections.

"Some people might criticize throwing tea in the Boston harbor and some people might criticize having all these people register as a write-in candidate," he said. "But when the government acts illegally, you have to stand up to it."

Dennis Bookey, general manager for Morris Communications' Anchorage Media Group, could not be reached for comment this afternoon. The company includes six Anchorage radio stations such as KFQD and KWHL 106.5 FM.

John Tracy, president of public advertising and public relations firm that makes commercials for the Murkowski campaign, said he called Bookey upset about Fagan’s show early in the day.

Tracy said he first called someone at the Murkowski campaign – he wouldn’t say who – to tell them he was making the complaint. The campaign person didn’t object, he said.

“I told Dennis that I felt a suspension was in order. That I felt that what Dan had done was serious enough," Tracy said.

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Ad wars

From David Hulen in Anchorage --

Another day, another round of new commericals in the U.S. Senate race.

New from the Miller campaign:

New from the Murkowski campaign:

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Video from the Miller rally

Here's video of former Gov. Palin's remarks at the Joe Miller rally last night in Anchorage, shot by Rick Small and posted at

There's also a longer clip that includes some of the other speakers, including Miller's remarks at the end of the rally:

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Palin stars at Miller rally, where he asks supporters to pray for him

(AP / Rob Stapleton)(AP / Rob Stapleton)

From Erika Bolstad in Anchorage –

Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller, taking the stage after a crowd-revving stump speech from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, urged his supporters to pray for his family and his victory.

Hundreds of people gathered tonight in the Dena'ina Center in downtown Anchorage for the rally, which was headlined by Palin but also featured a number of lower wattage political luminaries appearing by video. At the event, billed as a "Change DC" rally, Miller said the campaign was only five days away from changing the nation's capital.

"And I'm not talking about Obama's kind of change," Miller said.

Miller also said he had grown a thick skin from his time at West Point, but that his wife wasn't as tough. He said his wife has suffered as there's been a steady stream of news about him and his background. Miller hasn't ever run for statewide office, and unlike the other two candidates in the race, has never held elected office. In recent weeks, Miller has said his family received the sort of government benefits, including health care that he has criticized in a campaign that has focused on limiting the role of government. And this week after a court order, personnel records released by the Fairbanks North Star Borough show that in 2008 he lied after being caught using government computers for political purposes while he was working as a part-time borough lawyer.

Joe and Kathleen Miller. (ADN / Marc Lester)Joe and Kathleen Miller. (ADN / Marc Lester)

Those who are criticizing him "represent the way of the past, not the future," Miller said, and again called on his supporters for their prayers for his victory over Democrat Scott McAdams and Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

"There's one other thing that we have in our arsenal," he said. "That thing we have in our arsenal is prayer. Now I want you to pray like you've never prayed before."

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Senate write-in candidates flood Division of Elections

Friday morning update: The official Division of Elections tally now shows about 150 people have filed as write-in candidates for Alaska's U.S. Senate race. That's not counting another roughly 25 who filed too late or didn't meet the age requirements.

The movement is largely meant to protest an Alaska Supreme Court order that allowed for a list of write-in candidates to appear at polling places. Protesters say the move amounts to electioneering for write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Among the names of the new write-ins:

- Lisa M. Lackey
- Lyn Marcum
- Lee Hamerski

A "Melissa A. 'Lissa' Pike" didn't meet age requirements.


From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

In a movement one pro-Sarah Palin website is calling “Operation Alaska Chaos,” at least 100 people filed paperwork Thursday to register as write-in candidates in the U.S. Senate election, according to the Division of Elections.

A stream of would-be senators filtered through the elections office in Midtown Anchorage late in the day, many saying the effort is meant to protest an order by the Alaska Supreme Court on Wednesday allowing a list of write-in candidates to be shown to voters who ask for assistance.

The court action is expected to aid Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in bid and amounts to electioneering by the state, say supporters of Republican nominee Joe Miller. The idea of a mass registration is to create a long list of potential write-in choices and make it harder for voters to find Murkowski’s name.

“(Murkowski) should have ran harder before the primary. And she didn’t. And she lost,” said Veronica Keanaaina of Eagle River, who signed up as a candidate in protest.

Hers was one of 56 Senate write-in applications the Anchorage elections office received in person or by fax in just 45 minutes late Thursday afternoon, said election clerk Raymond McAndrews.

The Division of Elections was still processing requests from around the state Thursday night. "I don't have have exact numbers," director Gail Fenumiai said in an e-mail. "It's safe to say it is over 100."

KFQD 750 AM radio host Dan Fagan, a Miller backer, urged voters to sign up in an act of “civil disobedience” — defying what he calls an illegal effort by the state.

“Rush on over there before 5 o’clock and register as a write-in candidate. Especially if your last name is Murkowski. That would really help the cause,” Fagan told listeners Thursday afternoon.

Blogger Dan Riehl called Alaskans to register in a post Thursday on the website "This is your chance to let the ruling class know you are watching and are fed up with the silly games," he wrote. joined the effort with the headline “Attention Alaska Readers: Assist Joe Miller Through 'Operation Alaska Chaos.’”

The deadline for filing a letter of intent to run as a write-in was the close of business Thursday.

“I’m signing up to become a senator,” a man in a hoodie said into his cell phone at the Midtown office. An Anchorage woman who said she is not a Milller supporter but believes the Supreme Court order is illegal wheeled in her oxygen tank, asking about signing up for both state and federal office.

A list of candidates on the Division of Elections website included more than 40 write-in names late Thursday, but employees at the Anchorage office said other names were still being processed.

Among the write-in candidates listed on the division website Thursday was a “Tom M.,” but no “Lisas.”

Richard Koller of Anchorage imagined Murkowski’s name awash in “a sea of other names” at Alaska polling places as a result of the mass registration.

He signed up partly in protest, partly to be part of history, he said. “I’ve lived here since 1982, and there’s never been any write-in candidate lists. The governor and lieutenant governor have elected to essentially electioneer for write-in candidates.”

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Alaska Supreme Court to hear write-in case Friday (Updated)

From Erika Bolstad in Anchorage --

The Alaska Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Friday in the fight over whether the state Division of Elections can offer voters a list of certified write-in candidates at the polls.

After a lower court blocked the lists from polls Wednesday, the Supreme Court made the decision later in the day to allow a modified version. It blocked the lower court ruling from taking effect while the high court further considers an appeal.

"At issue is a list containing nothing more than the names of all certified write-in candidates," the state Division of Elections wrote in its petition to have the case heard by the Supreme Court. "This list is not posted or otherwise displayed at polling places. The Division's aim in providing this list was to minimize disruption in the polling place that would result from conversations between poll workers and voters regarding write-in candidates."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the Alaska Federation of Native have joined the state in its fight to keep the lists at the polls; the list could benefit her candidacy by giving voters a reference tool for her write-in bid.

But the court will have a new wrinkle to address Friday. Egged on by radio talk show host Dan Fagan, dozens of people crowded into the Division of Elections offices in Anchorage on Thursday to submit their own names as write-in candidates – an effort to make the list as long and cumbersome as possible. Thursday was the deadline to be a certified write-in candidate.

The Alaska Democratic Party and the Alaska Republican Party joined forces this week in court seeking to keep the list out of voting places. They thought they'd won the case Wednesday morning when the lower court judge told the state Division of Elections to remove the list from voting places statewide. Democrats first complained about the list when a voter in Juneau noticed it had been posted in an early voting location.

The Supreme Court's stop-gap decision issued Wednesday allows voters at early voting sites to see the lists – but only if they say they need help and want to be shown a list of write-in candidates. The lists, however, can't include the party affiliation of the certified write-in candidates. The court also ordered the state to segregate the ballots of those voters who cast votes after they asked for assistance.

The Division of Elections said it would be able to segregate those ballots until Election Day. But when the polls open on Nov. 2, the state said it is "not feasible" to do so. They fear it will upset voters and cause confusion and a reluctance to ask for assistance. So far, an estimated 63 voters asked for assistance out of the 10,000 who've cast votes.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning.

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Senate race: No NRA endorsement for general election, spokesman says

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller accused Sen. Lisa Murkowski Wednesday night of lying in a recent campaign flier about a National Rifle Association endorsement. Murkowski’s camp defended the flier this morning, saying it's accurate and that Miller is the one who can't tell the truth.

Here's official word from the NRA today: Murkowski was indeed endorsed during the primary, but the group did not formally endorse anyone in the general election.

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New Hays poll puts Miller in third (Updated with new Hellenthal poll that has Miller second)

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage ---

New polling from Hays Research purports to show Joe Miller has plummeted to third place in Alaska's race for the Senate, with Lisa Murkowski the apparent frontrunner followed closely by Scott McAdams.

The Anchorage firm’s poll of 500 likely voters found that 34 percent said they would vote for a write-in candidate (Lisa Murkowski’s name was not mentioned, but presumably she is who most people meant.)

Twenty-nine percent said they would vote for Democratic nominee Scott McAdams and just 23 percent favored Republican nominee Miller. The poll listed 13 percent undecided.

The Hays poll was paid for by IBEW Local 1547. The IBEW endorsed McAdams in the race and the results of the new poll were first published on the blog Mudflats, which is promoting McAdams hard.

This is the first public poll on the Senate race that I’ve seen released since Oct. 20 and its results are far different than any other poll.

The Oct. 20 CNN/Time poll, as well as the other public polls from around the same time, suggested that Miller and Murkowski were in a dead heat, with McAdams trailing an uphill third.

The Hays poll was conducted on Oct. 25th-26th. The 26th was when the news broke that Fairbanks North Star Borough documents showed Miller had initially lied in 2008 after being caught using his co-workers computers at the borough for online political polling.

Hays’ tracking polls over the past month suggest that Miller and the write-in (presumably Murkowski) were essentially tied at 31 percent of the vote on Oct. 6, with McAdams at 16 percent. Murkowski has slightly improved since then and McAdams has surged, according to Hays, while Miller has taken a nosedive.

I’ll be interested to see if other new polling agrees with what Hays has found since so far this is the only public poll to show these kind of results. We’ll post new polls when they come in.

Hays put its margin of error at plus or minus 4.4 percent.
2:30 p.m. update --- Alaskans Standing Together, a pro-Murkowski political action committee composed of Alaska Native corporations, put out another new poll this afternoon. That poll, conducted by Hellenthal Research of Anchorage, has far different numbers than those in the Hays poll.

That poll put Murkowski in the lead with 43.5 percent of the vote, Miller second with 29.1 percent and McAdams in third place with 22.7 percent.

It looks like the Hellenthal pollsters actually read Lisa Murkowski's name to the people answering the poll, unlike the Hays poll that just gave the option of "write in" to try and simulate the affect of Murkowski's name not being on the ballot.

The Hellenthal poll was conducted Oct. 25th-27th with a sample size of 400. Hellenthal, which gave the margin of error at plus or minus 4. 9 percent, included tracking numbers suggesting that Murkowski has been on the upswing over the past week, with Miller and McAdams both dropping.

Also, Nate Silver at the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight site crunched previous polls in the race (those conducted Sept. 19 to Oct. 19) to make a prediction.

His projection was Miller with 38.5 percent, Murkowski 34.1 percent and McAdams 26.3 percent. Silver gives a very big margin of error -- plus or minus 10 percent.

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Native corporations to canvass villages for Murkowski

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage –

A coalition of Alaska Native corporations has spent at least $1.26 million in an effort to re-elect Sen. Lisa Murkowski -- the biggest spending of any single third-party group in Alaska this season -- campaign finance reports say.

This week, the group will focus on a final campaign push in rural hubs and villages, said Alaskans Standing Together spokesman Jason Moore.

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Home stretch

From David Hulen in Anchorage --

Home stretch of the campaign and a new TV ads from all three candidates in the Senate race:

Miller ad: "My opponent is not a witch"

Murkowski ad: "Scott is not a full-time mayor."

McAdams ad: "She's changed"

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Election 2010: Finding the funny

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

The Juneau-based Alaska Robotics crew recently released a round of parody campaign ads for our relatively joyless 2010 elections. Behold:

More after the jump ...

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Palin tweets to Joe Miller’s defense

Associated Press
Sarah Palin is rallying behind beleaguered Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, after records showed he admitted lying about improperly using government computers while working as a borough attorney.

Palin came to Miller’s defense in a series of tweets Wednesday. She says the media is ignoring Miller’s “winning record” and message to favor “their Leftwinger chosen one.”

Miller is running against write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whom he beat in the GOP primary, and Democrat Scott McAdams.

Palin has tangled politically with Murkowski. Palin re-emerged Monday, after keeping a low-profile in the race, to take special aim at Murkowski and try to raise money for Miller.

Palin is set to headline a “Change D.C.” rally with Miller on Thursday in Anchorage.

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NARAL endorses McAdams

From Erika Bolstad in Anchorage --

A day after his Republican opponent was endorsed by an anti-abortion group in Alaska, Democrat Scott McAdams picked up an endorsement Wednesday from NARAL Pro-Choice America

NARAL's endorsement came with a $5,000 contribution to McAdams' campaign.

"I am proud to have the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC. I'm the only candidate in this race who fully supports a woman's right to choose: government has no place in a woman's decisions about her body," McAdams said in a statement.

Abortion is one of the defining issues in the Senate race, despite this being an election year defined less by social issues than the economy and federal spending. The issue perfectly defines all three, with Miller the anti-abortion candidate, Democrat Scott McAdams the pro-choice one and Sen. Lisa Murkowski straddling the middle.

Miller earlier this week landed the first-ever endorsement from Alaska Family Action, the political arm of the anti-abortion Alaska Family Council.

Murkowski, who does not oppose abortion but also declines to describe herself as pro-choice, lost the Republican primary in part because anti-abortion voters turned out in great numbers to support a voter initiative requiring parents to be notified before their teen receives an abortion. Miller came out strongly for the proposal, known as Measure 2.

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More debates on the way

Another debate with candidates for U.S. Senate is scheduled on public television and radio statewide on Wednesday night, along with a debate for U.S. House. Candidates for governor will appear Thursday night.

"Debate for the State 2010" will be broadcast live throughout the state on KAKM Channel 7, Alaska One, 360 North television, as well as ARCS and 26 Alaska Public Radio Network stations.

The schedule: U.S. House, 8 to 9 p.m. today; U.S. Senate, 9 to 10:30 p.m. today; and governor, 8 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

The debates are being produced at the KAKM-TV studio in Anchorage and will be moderated by APRN's Libby Casey.

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Division of Elections defends write-in lists at the polls

From Erika Bolstad in Anchorage --

The state has filed its explanation of why the Division of Elections should be able to continue allowing voters to see a list of certified write-in candidates at the polls.

Alaska's Democratic and Republican parties went to court Monday to force the state to stop providing voters with a list, one of the first salvos in what is expected to be a contentious vote count in the U.S. Senate race. The state Division of Elections has been providing early voters who ask for assistance a list of all write-in candidates, and in one case, had actually posted the list at an early-voting location in Homer.

The Division of Elections in its 29-page filing called voting "one of the most fundamental privileges of a Democratic society."

"It is the mission of the Division of Elections to assist voters to effectively express their political will at the ballot box," the state said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski's campaign joined the Division of Elections in defending the list.

"There is no argument here that the Division's utilization of the candidate's list would make the election any less 'honest,'" wrote Murkowski's attorney, Scott Kendall. "In fact, it stands to reason that, ince more voters will be able to vote their intent, the election will be a more 'honest' result if the list is permitted."

The Alaska Democratic Party countered in its response that if the Division of Elections "truly believed that providing a list of write-in candidates at the polling booth was essential to providing voter assistance, then surely it would have arrived at this decision many election cycles ago, rather than on the eve of this election."

The Alaska Republican Party argued in its response that prohibiting the state from letting voters see the list would not only "help prevent voter fraud," but also "respect the balance which the system has previously implemented, between the right of the voters to vote for whoever they want, and the need for a functional primary system to prevent elections from descending into chaos."

State Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner said he'll make a ruling at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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Miller borough documents released

Update: We now have a story on our homepage, and will be updating that.

Original post: The Fairbanks North Star Borough, as ordered by a state judge on Saturday, just released documents from Joe Miller’s employment there as a part-time borough attorney.

Here they arein a downloadable PDF, as released by the borough at 4 p.m. Alaska time. (We've also created a searchable PDF of the document, but it's very large - 22 MB.)

Also released was a directory of the documents released and withheld and a manifest of the e-mails.

Miller, the Republican nominee in a tight three-way race, said this morning that he wouldn’t appeal the ruling over the weekend by Superior Court Judge Winston Burbank.

We’re reading them ourselves and will be posting a story with updates shortly.

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(UPDATED) Giants or Rangers? 6 fast questions with Miller, Murkowski & McAdams

(AP / Michael Dinneen)(AP / Michael Dinneen)

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage –

Today’s U.S. Senate candidate match-up, a Rotary/Alaska World Affairs Council forum downtown, included a series of quick questions meant nudge the competitors off their well-worn talking points. Behold:

Q. What percentage of your family income do you devote to charity?
Democrat Scott McAdams: “What percentage of my ...? Probably about 1 to 2 percent.
Republican Joe Miller: “Fifteen to 20.”
Write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “I’d say 5.”

Q. If you could not live in the United States, what country would be your next choice?
Murkowski: “I’ve never been to Iceland, but I’m intrigued because they have figured out how to use their geothermal and I like that.”
McAdams: “If I could not live in the United States, I’d still want to live in the United States.”
Joe Miller: “I’d live on a boat.”

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Palin expected to appear at Miller campaign event Thursday

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

Former Gov. Sarah Palin is expected to appear at a campaign event for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller Thursday in downtown Anchorage, a Miller spokesman says.

Ads inviting people to the event at the Dena'ina convention center -- making no mention of Palin -- aired on talk radio in Anchorage this morning. Miller attended a Senate candidate forum today and afterward gave an interview to BBC on the convention center deck. A cluster of reporters and photographers waited in the lobby to squeeze in a few questions.

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