An Interesting Test for Governor Palin

Each Alaska Senate District is comprised of two house districts.  Juneau and its environs is House Districts Three and Four.  District 3 is Downtown Juneau and Douglas Island and is far and away the Bluest spot in Alaska.  District 4 is the Mendenhall Valley and “out the road” and is Purple tending Red.  In fact we elected a Republican last election which represented the only GOP pickup in Alaska.

Juneau’s Senator for some years has been Kim Elton, far and away the most liberal member of the Alaska Senate and the only vote against a resolution condemning flag burning and an opponent of ANWR development (most Democrats in Alaska really are opposed to ANWR but they all say they support it because they know their support doesn’t make any difference – Elton was at least brave enough to say it).  Elton is Senator largely because the Republican candidate, a successful local businessman, got primaried by a Democrat in Republican clothing and the primary was open at the time, so the Ds could all vote for their ringer.  Interestingly, the Knowles Administration soon thereafter gave him a nice contract to do some useless study; funny how those things work.

You may recall that Senator Elton, a vocal BHO supporter, was one of the main actors in the investigation of Governor Palin’s dismissal of her Public Safety Commissioner, the basis of the “Troopergate” affair.  Well, the Democrats know how to reward their friends as well as punish their enemies, so BHO paid Elton off by offering him a very nice job in the US Department of the Interior where he can help his Greenie friends keep Alaska safe from any development of any sort.  Plus, Kim’s getting some age on him, the Alaska Legislature pays peanuts, and he’s been in the minority his whole career so he’s had limited stealing and bribery privileges; he needs to make some money.  So, Sen. Elton is now Deputy Assistant to the Assistant Deputy or some such and the seat is vacant.  Let the games begin!

Alaska law requires that the Governor solicit recommendations for a vacant seat from the Party of the former member.  Traditionally, the Parties have given governors at least two or three names.  The Governor does not have to nominate a person recommended by the Party so long as the person nominated by the Governor has been a registered member of the incumbent Party for at least one year.  The Governor’s nominee must be confirmed by the members of the Senate who are members of the incumbent party.

The Representative from District 3 is a woman, Beth Kertulla, who is from an old Alaska political family; her father was a Senator from Palmer, near Gov. Palin’s home of Wasilla, and a former President of the Senate.  In fact, I think he was the last Democrat Senate President.  Rep. Kertulla is slightly less liberal than Sen. Elton, but nobody less than barking mad liberal could get elected in District 3, so lets just say she doesn’t have much in common with the Republican majority in the Legislature.  She has also used her pointy stick towards Gov. Palin on numerous ocassions, going so far as to say publicly that she couldn’t trust the Governor; that’s something that just isn’t done out loud unless you’re prepared for a war.

So, the Democrat Party here is run by a woman who works as an AFSCME rep and who is somewhere alongside Mao politically.  She and the Ds decide to play hardball with Gov. Palin and only send her one name, Rep. Kertulla.  First, that Senate Seat represents District 4 too, and it is unlikely that Rep. Kertulla could get elected in District 4, we do stuff like elect Republcans.  And second, Rep. Kertulla has repeatedly poked Gov. Palin in the eye.  Gov. Palin basically says, “OK, you want to play?”  The Gov doesn’t reject Kertulla (yet) but she comes out and says she needs more choices and asks interested and qualified Democrats to apply by April 1st.  Alaska only has a 90 day Legislative session, so at minimum, Juneau will be unrepresented in the Senate for some substantial portion of the session.  That has caused a hue and cry against the Governor (and somewhat against the Democrats) here, but I don’t think it really matters; no representation at all is better than ineffective representation that often alienates people from elsewhere in the State.

So, now we have a game.  Gov. Palin is going to pick somebody much more conservative than Elton and much more conservative than all but one or two of the Senate Democrats who’ll have to confirm her nominee.  The best play would be to nominate an Alaska Native with ties to one of the filthy, profitable Native Corporations that do stuff like log and mine and like to build roads and stuff.  That way, the Ds would have a choice of whether they crossed the Greenies or crossed the Natives, both important constituencies for them.

We’ll see how she plays it.  She’s amply demonstrated that she doesn’t much care what happens in or to Juneau, but she has some personal scores to settle with the Democrats here, and she’s always interested in settling personal scores.  Popcorn stocks are soaring!