On Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s 10th day in office, he held substantive meetings with key political figures in the Trump Administration, including the president himself.
It was a jam-packed day in Washington to establish firm relationships and thank federal partners for their efforts helping Alaska since the Nov. 30 earthquake.
Dunleavy joined with 11 other newly elected governors in a round table discussion with Donald Trump and several of his cabinet members.
While it was a familiarization trip for the others, there was immediate connection between Dunleavy and Trump because the president has focused a lot of his administration’s efforts on earthquake recovery after the 7.0 temblor hit the most populated region of Southcentral Alaska.
Dunleavy and the president engaged for several minutes discussing the quake, while other governors looked on. It was obvious the president had looked at footage from the quake, and Dunleavy thanked Trump for the administration’s quick and robust response. Dunleavy was positioned nearly directly across from the president during the meeting, which was surrounded by a large scrum of news camera operators.
It didn’t hurt Dunleavy’s reputation at the table that he flipped the Governor’s Office to Republican control from a governor who had not had a productive relationship with this president’s administration.
Also on the trip to D.C., Dunleavy met for nearly an hour with the Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke. That was the first time the two had met face to face, and the conversation was more of a get-to-know-you opportunity, and a chance for them to talk about their visions for responsible resource development on federal lands.
They met in Zinke’s office with a crackling fire in the fireplace nearby. In attendance were Assistant Sec. of Interior Joe Balash and head of BIA and Assistant Sec. of Interior Tara Sweeney — both Alaskans. Kate McGregor, Chief of Staff for Policy and an expert on oil and gas, also attended.
The group was already gathered when Dunleavy walked into the office a the Interior Department.
“Damn, you’re tall,” were the first words out of Sec. Zinke’s mouth. That set the tone for a relaxed and wide-ranging conversation that touched everything from sports to their mutual interest in moving the resource economy of Alaska forward.
Dunleavy thanked Zinke for all he has done for the state so far, and thanked him for the pro-Alaska team he has put together. Then they took a photo outside with the Washington Monument in the background.
Dunleavy also met with Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Sec. of Transportation Elaine Chao. The discussion with those two focused on earthquake recovery and the extensive infrastructure needs.
All seemed thrilled to have a governor they can work with, according to those who were on hand for the meetings.