An apology, and a path forward

On behalf of the Alaska Republican Party, I extend our apologies to David Nees, candidate for Anchorage School Board Seat B in the upcoming muncipal election, because his name was inadvertently left off of an automated telephone message delivered throughout the muncipality on March 10, 2016. When there is more than one Republican candidate in an election, the officers of the party and any official communication from the party should be neutral. 

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Governor trying to fix what isn't broken

FIRST AGDC, NOW THE OTHER THREE PUBLIC CORPORATIONS? Alarming to many insiders, Gov. Walker came out of left field with Administrative Order 281, to change and possibly combine structures of three independent state corporations: Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, Alaska Housing and Finance Corporation, and Alaska Energy Authority.

In charge of this process is Commissioner of Administration Sheldon Fisher.

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Murkowski doubles down criticism of VA Choice failure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) continued to press the leadership of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) over issues with the current VA healthcare system in Alaska. Following up on her discussion last week with Dr. David Shulkin, Undersecretary of Health for the VA, over the failings of the Choice Card Program in Alaska, Senator Murkowski questioned Robert McDonald, the Secretary of the VA, on the lessons learned from his August 2015 visit to the state, whether or not he understands the unique challenges veterans in Alaska face, and his plans to fix those issues.

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Alaska Republican leaders condemn Democratic blogger

The Alaska Republican Party blasted liberal blogger Casey Reynolds today, after learning of his libelous postings on his political blog, a post that he has since removed.

“We saw what he posted originally, and were horrified at his coarse language, and now we see that he has been forced to remove his hatchet job. But he left in place a blatant threat to every Republican in the state -- that he will attack them at will with his political meat ax,” said Suzanne Downing, communication director of the Alaska Republican Party.

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Budget snapshots and other inflictions

One of the perils of reporting on budgets in the heat of deliberation is that a snapshot in time becomes wrong the next minute.

But we'll wade into the swamp.

This week, House Finance has been working late into the night, hearing citizen after citizen beseech them to add money back into the budget. If legislators responded positively to every plea for restoring funds, we'd be the new Greece next year.

Intrigue developed when the Governor's Office of Management and Budget sent over a letter stating that there is -- surprise! -- a $288 million pot of gold in the Statutory Budget Reserve, a function of some accrued interest.

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Alaska GOP calls Gruenberg replacement 'good for now'

The Alaska Republican Party issued this statement regarding the interim replacement named by Governor Bill Walker for the seat left vacant when Rep. Max Gruenberg passed away last month.

"Ivy Spohnholz is a high-quality Alaskan who will sincerely work to represent the people of District 16 during this temporary position," said Vice Chairman Frank McQueary. "She has the heart for service and approaches everything with a positive attitude. We'll make sure she has a worthy opponent in the fall."

Gruenberg, a Democrat, was beloved for his good nature, his legal mind, and his compassion. "We know that Ivy will bring her own views and experiences to bear as a lawmaker, and we look forward to her good works," McQueary said.

Spohnholz will have to run for the seat this fall. She will face Kevin Kastner and Don Hadley, Republicans who have filed a letter of intent, and possibly Lisa Vaught, A Republican who was an aide to Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux until recently.

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Curious incident of Medicaid expansion being 'optionally required'

THAT TIME WHEN A JUDICIAL PIPSQUEAK OVERRULED THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: Think what you like about Medicaid expansion for Alaska and whether it saves the state money or provides better health care access, but one thing we all must agree on: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled it optional for states to take part in.

The court clearly ruled that expanding Medicaid to a new class of work-eligible people who are at 138 percent of the federally established poverty level could not be a requirement of Obamacare, but is a decision that must be left to the states themselves.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts called the Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare “a gun to the head” and an unconstitutional coercion by the federal government against the states.

Fulfilling his campaign promise to Democrats, Gov. Bill Walker unilaterally expanded Medicaid in 2015, and since then the matter has been contested by a legislative majority that wants to understand if the governor was within his constitutional powers, or going full Obama on us. The court has been mulling the question since last fall.

Last week, the judge threw into the stew the strangest soup bone yet.

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Walker struggling to lead his 'unity' team

GOVERNOR MOVING TO A 'CARROT AND SCHTICK' ECONOMY: We're not sure why the governor didn't have time to issue a real statement about Apache Corp. leaving Alaska. The Texas-based company  has been exploring near Nikiski since 2010. Its departure from Alaskan waters is a huge blow to Cook Inlet oil and gas, as Apache owned more than half of the leases, not to be renewed by the company this year. 

Late update to this story: Dispatch News fills out the details on reductions of rigs in Prudhoe.

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Cruz and Trump won, and their supporters differed

GOODBYE, SUPER TUESDAY...You will not find a disparaging comment here about any of the candidates whose names appeared in the Alaska Republican Party’s Presidential Preference Poll last Tuesday – Donald, Ted, Marco, Ben or John. 

All are outstanding Americans who, like the several other Republicans of the season (Jeb, Karly, Chris, Bobby, Rand etc.) made the case they were the right person to lead our country. 

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A Tribute to a Fine First Lady


Nancy and Ronald Reagan, National Prayer Breakfast, 2981. Photo Credit: Reagan Presidential Library

MARCH 6, 2016 - It is not as if her moment to soar into God's arms was not coming, but one is never ready for the earthly loss of Nancy Reagan.

We remember first, her passing is a sorrow and a loss to her family, her loved ones, and those who who knew her well. But it also signals the passing of an era for our nation. She is now part of the great history and national purpose we collectively sense has slipped away from America.

We honor Nancy as the best friend and soul mate of a beloved leader of the free world: President Ronald Reagan. The two were madly in love with each other, and while he was president, Nancy held the curious and now almost quaint office of "official spouse" with dignity and grace -- a gentleness and purpose we have not seen in the White House for the past eight years.


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