IS THE GOVERNOR’S RACE ON? Why, yes it is. At Mike and Bonnie Porcaro’s house on Sunday, a group of 46 leading Republicans, (members of the Freedom Club, who donate $100 a month to the Alaska Republican Party), heard presentations from six possible Republican candidates for governor.
None committed to running, but each one spoke and answered questions for a half an hour in the event that went from 2 pm to 6 pm.
It was strictly off the record, but attending from the Freedom Club were Tom Anderson, Tom Anderson Sr., Kristie Babcock, Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock, Nick Begich, Dharna Begich, Wiley Brooks, Adam Crum, Joey Crum, Ric Davidge, Larry DeVilbiss, Susan Fischetti, Lynn Gattis, Becky Huggins, Dan Kendall, Dawn Linton-Warren, Kris Warren, Dave Stieren, Rebecca Logan, David Morgan, Randy Ruedrich, Elyce Santerre, Stacey Stone-Semmler, Julie Tisdale, Sheila Cernich, Portia Noble, Jeremy Price, Jon Faulkner, Mike Fell, Albert Fogle, Cynthia Henry, Kurt Olson, Marcus Sanders, Rina Salazar, Christy Strutz, Josh Walton, Rick Whitbeck.
The possible candidates who gave half-hour presentations were former Lt. Gov. and former Sen. Loren Leman, former Sen. Charlie Huggins, businessman Scott Hawkins, businessman Bob Gillam, former Sen. John Binkley, and Sen. Mike Dunleavy. All different styles, with different emphases. (Missing was possible contender Mike Chenault, stuck in Juneau).
Candidates came in through the side door, had about 40 minutes total, with a presentation and question and answers. Then they exited through the front door, with breaks between them to prevent that awkward moment.
Motivated line of the day: Every candidate was asked about his strategy to beat Mark Begich, should he be the Democrats’ nominee.
“I’ll get up extra early every day to beat Mark Begich,” one of the presenters quipped. That got the room clapping and chuckling, and agreeing that they would too.
All presenters were critical of the governor’s tax plan and refusal to bring down the size and expense of government.
Takeaway from Sunday: All the candidates who attended were stellar, according to several in the audience. They all face the issue of having to quickly grow their name recognition on a statewide basis, and they all face fundraising challenges, in a state where maximum contributions are capped at $500 per individual.
“We have an impressive line up of candidates. There was a real sense of optimism, and as each candidate went through, it built. Each one had obviously given this considerable thought and analysis and each brings a wealth of experience and skills,” said Cynthia Henry, National Committeewoman for the Alaska Republican Party. “Any one of them could be formidable candidate against whomever they [the Democrats] bring.”
“People were really excited and it was a frank and open discussion, and we were happy that all of these candidates were willing to be so open and transparent. To have these six in the same room with this core group of supporters was very powerful.” said Kristie Babcock of Kenai, who organized the event.
Republican Governors Association side-eyes Alaska: Among those attending the afternoon at the Porcaro’s was Dave Rexrode, political director for the Republican Governors Association, where he oversees and directs the day-to-day efforts to elect Republican governors. He’s probably looking at who is electable and who the RGA would go to the mat for. He was meeting with several candidates separately during his two-day visit.