THERE ARE ACTION ALERTS IN THIS POST - PLEASE READ THE WHOLE THING
It never ceases to amaze me just how petty Alaskan politics can get sometimes - especially when they smell a chance to stick it to Sarah Palin. This week, the issue is Palin's appointment of anew State Senator to fill the seat vacated by Troopergate ringleader/Obama appointee Kim Elton.
Under law, Palin had to appoint a Democrat - and her appointee then has to be approved by a majority vote the sitting Democratic Senators. Normally, the local party in the vacant district (Juneau, in this case) would forward a list of nominees to the Governor, and one of them would be picked. However, in this case, the Juneau Democrats decided not to submit the traditional three nominations, and put only one name on the list - State Representative and staunch anti-Palinite Beth Kertulla. Palin asked for more names, but the Juneau Dems refused. So, she exercised her right to appoint any Democrat she wished, and instead nominated Tim Grussendorf, who was chief of staff to State Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel). Grussendorf is clearly qualified for the post, but now some Democratic Senators are trying to defeat his nomination and try to force a Kertulla pick.
This is ridiculous and petty, and I personally think it's time for the Anti-Palin people to stop behaving like toddlers. So, I figure that I will introduce you to each and every one of the people involved in this and tell you how to contact them - just so that they know we're watching. (All names will be hyperlinked to their profiles at the AK Legislature). There are only 9 Democrats in the Senate (5 needed for majority), so it shouldn't take too long to identify the key players.
I talked to someone familiar with the dynamics of the situation, and it appears that two Dems from Anchorage leading the charge against Grussendorf: Sens. Hollis French (remember him?), Bill Wielechowski, and Johnny Ellis. This could be personal for French, who wants to run for Governor in 2010 and would love to shoot down anything Palin does. On the other hand, most of the non-Anchorage Democrats seem favorably inclined toward Grussendorf. He's almost certain to get a vote from his old boss, Lyman Hoffman, and my source seems to think that he's going to get backing from Sens. Donald Olson (Nome), Joe Thomas (Fairbanks), and Joe Paskvan (Fairbanks). If this is true, Grussendorf only needs one more vote to get in, and we have two swing voters to focus our efforts on. They are:
Sen. Bettye Davis (Anchorage)
Sen. Albert Kookesh (Angoon/SE Alaska)
So, if you want to call or email, I would focus on those two - and then make sure to call the other four who seem to be leaning the right way to encourage them. If you want to call French, Wielechowski, and Ellis...well...have fun. Davis will likely be under pressure from the other two Anchorage Senators, so they will need some pushing, and Kookesh could be our best bet seeing as he doesn't have the Anchorage connection (he's also the one making this post possible - the vote is delayed because his plane is snowed in). Granted, he's from Southeast Alaska, so he could have some loyalty to Kertulla.
I'll be doing my best to publicize this, and I will be posting the final votes here - so you will all know who did the right thing and who caved to the pressure from shadow-Governor French. Tim Grussendorf seems like a decent guy, not to mention a longtime staffer for a Democratic State Senator, so there's no reason he shouldn't be voted in (other than personal animosity toward Palin). Plus, Rep. Kertulla wants to run for the seat in the next election anyway, and one Juneau Democratic official told the Anchorage Daily News "she would beat him (Grussendorf) like a drum." So, if that bravado proves true, then this is not exactly putting a crimp on her career.
It's time for Hollis French and his friends to quit with the pettiness, let Grussendorf in, and get back to the serious work of government. Let's do what we can to see that they do just that.