NOT THAT BUTTON!
On Wednesday, State Senator David Wilson pushed the wrong button.
And within a split second, he had filed a letter of intent to run for lieutenant governor of Alaska in 2018.
Wilson described it as a moment of exuberance, and noted that he is actually not running. He was just toying with the idea, but he feels he needs to spend more time with his family.
He later returned to the Alaska Public Offices Commission page and clarified his intention. He amended his filing to say “not running for office.”
Not now, anyway. After all, he just got to the Senate after having served on the Wasilla City Council. And he is the youngest member of the Alaska Senate, serving District D.
The first-term senator won his seat in 2016 after besting Rep. Lynn Gattis for Sen. Charlie Huggins’ seat, which Huggins retired from last year. (Huggins is thought to be a candidate for governor, although he has been on safari in Africa in recent days and has not declared his intent — not officially.)
The filing season has started. No other candidate has yet announced for lieutenant governor, although some mention Sen. Shelley Hughes as a possible candidate.
She said “not now.” Hughes occupies a safe Republican seat representing the Palmer-Chugiak area.
As of today, no one has filed for lieutenant governor — not even the current lieutenant governor, Byron Mallott.
BALASH AT INTERIOR A BIG HIT WITH ALASKANS — MOST OF THEM
On Wednesday, the White House released a statement saying that Alaskan’s own Joe Balash would be Assistant Secretary to the Interior, responsible for Land and Mineral Management. That means Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and a portfolio that covers minerals, reclamation, safety, and enforcement.
The response to the news was quick and positive from across the state. In fact, Must Read Alaska’s news item on Balash received thousands of hits on Wednesday.
On Facebook, the comments were effusive: “Go, Joe!” “Outstanding, Joe!” “Great news for Alaska!” Many of his long-time friends chimed in with glowing remarks.
Congressman Don Young released a cheerful congratulations. U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan penned warm words in a statement about his departing chief of staff:
Last night, President Trump announced his nomination of Joe Balash, my chief of staff, as the next Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Mineral Management. While I’m sad to see Joe leave, his departure is a big gain for Interior Secretary Zinke, the Department of Interior, the United States and Alaska. His wealth of knowledge and passion for Alaska – and more broadly, federal land issues – cannot be overstated. His advice and counsel on natural resource matters will be invaluable as Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration chart a new path toward American energy dominance. Alaska can and should be a critical element of this important national objective.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski called Balash and excellent choice in a long statement about his nomination, and her Chief of Staff Mike Pawlowski made a rare personal comment on Facebook: “I know I rarely if ever post but could not be more excited for Alaska or honored to call someone my friend.”
WALKER MAKES A MENTION
And then there’s Gov. Bill Walker, who in 2014 wasted no time removing Balash as commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources. Walker got the news while in Kenai and was was seen shaking his head and muttering.
He made no official announcement from his press office or on Facebook, but did offer a terse, 148-character mention on Twitter:
Walker isn’t as thrilled as other Alaskans. After all, it was Balash who took on Walker in 2014 in an op-ed in the Alaska Dispatch News, where he detailed the long list of gasline failures by Walker, who was then a candidate for governor.
Suffice it to say, Walker has a long memory.