Heads and Tails: Murkowski, Zinke make up; Meyer mulls run for LG

Sec. of Interior Ryan Zinke and Sen. Lisa Murkowski chose an ice cold Alaskan Big Mountain Pale Ale to refresh their relationship.

MAKE-UP BREW: Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke took a photo of himself and Sen. Lisa Murkowski sharing a beer and being convivial. Evidently the two mended fences after their political dust-up over Obamacare repeal last month.

Murkowski’s vote on health care drew the ire of President Trump, who charged that the senator, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, had let the country and Alaska down.

After her Obamacare vote, Zinke called Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan and advised that health care was the president’s priority, and all Alaska-centric projects would be taking a back seat.

KEVIN MEYER MULLING LG RUN: Senate Rules Chair (and former Senate President) Kevin Meyer is said to be considering a run for lieutenant governor. And why not? In addition to Rules, Finance, Senate Majority Leader and President, he’s somewhat of a household name, at least in the Railbelt and Juneau.

So far, it appears he is just talking to potential key supporters and will not decide until after Labor Day. Sen. Gary Stevens of Kodiak has already announced he is running.

If Meyer runs, that leaves his South Anchorage Senate seat open. Either Rep. Charisse Millett or Rep. Chris Birch are the likely candidates for that spot.

WALKER-MALLOT MAKE IT OFFICIAL ON KINY RADIO: “We have both decided that we will run again,” Mallott told KINY’s Pete Carran on Wednesday’s talk radio show.

“You never say that in an absolute term because we have no idea what will occur,” he said, but when asked directly if they’d made up their minds, Mallott said “Yes.”

Walker is a former Republican who left the party, ditched his running mate, and worked with the Alaska Democratic Party to win the governorship in 2014. Mallott was a Democrat who ran for governor, but then ditched his running mate and became Walker’s running mate, with the encouragement of the AFL-CIO and Alaska Democrats. In turn, his policies have been well aligned with those left-of-center backers.

The only Republicans to have filed for governor are Sen. Michael Dunleavy of Wasilla and Michael Sheldon of Petersburg.

GOV. JUSTICE, GOP: Democrats have been unravelled at the state and local level across the nation. Tonight, Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia just made it worse by announcing he will switch to the Republican Party on Friday. He is the first governor to switch from Democrat to Republican in over 25 years.

Republicans hold a record-high number of governors offices (34), and Democrats have a record low (15). Republicans control both the governors’ mansions and state legislatures in 26 states. Democrats control both in just 6 states.

Justice announced the pending change Thursday in a surprise appearance with President Donald Trump in Huntington, West Virginia.

“Today, I will tell you, with lots of prayers and lots of thinking, I can’t help you anymore being a Democrat governor,” Justice said. “So tomorrow, I will be changing my registration to Republican.

UTAH DEFENDS HISTORICAL TRAILS AND ROADS: Unlike the Walker Administration in Alaska, which is negotiating away Alaskans’ access rights to Klutina Lake and other areas in Alaska, Utah is fighting for public access on historic roads and byways.

The State of Utah and most of its counties have filed 22 lawsuits in federal court seeking judicial determinations of their rights to use some 12,000 roads and trails.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office gives a clear and concise explanation of the importance of defending the access to land.

It applies to Alaska. Someone might find it worthy to forward to the Alaska Attorney General, who has chosen to negotiate access on a case by case basis with tribes. The public comment period on the Walker Administration’s Klutina access plan ends Aug. 30.

[Read: Governor rolls over on access to Klutina Lake]

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  1. During Walker’s campaign in 2014 he said on several occasions that he would be a one term governor and would not run for a second term. Given his unilateral taking of Alaskan’s PFD last year, his insistence on a State income tax, his inexplicable spending of the public’ money on a gas pipeline project that has zero chance of being built in the foreseeable future, and his failure to provide solid leadership, he stands no chance of being reelected. Alice Rogoff pushed him over the top last time by publishing an article a day criticizing Parnell over the Nat Guard scandal which by all accounts cost him the election. She will be of little help this election cycle as it is likely she and ADN will close their doors. And he can kiss off the union vote since he has done nothing for them with his failure to get a favorable capital budget. So, don’t be surprised to see Walker / Mallot end up with only 15% or so of the vote.

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