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Tom Boutin: Join me in voting for John Coghill


A number of people have called to ask me how in the world Alaskans can choose from among the 48 candidates running to fill the late Congressman Don Young’s shoes. Everyone seems to know someone in the race but in almost every case that candidate seems to be completely unknown beyond one town or village. For that one reason a small group of apparent front-runners has emerged.

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From my perspective it’s easy to eliminate the candidate with the greatest name recognition. When I was 4 years old, my parents, just emerging from their teens, moved from the French-speaking pulp mill town of 13,000 to the adjacent town of 3,000 where Protestants and pulp mill managers lived. At first we lived in a rental  A 6-year-old girl from the next rental told me there is no Santa Claus, and even at that time I was an avid reader, so likely required very little convincing.   

By the time I was 12, both families had moved to owned homes and that girl had become unarguably attractive. So I told her she might owe me another rite of passage because of that Santa Claus experience. Feigning, I think, some shock, she informed her father, a huge Irishman with hands as large as my head. Fortunately he had a great sense of humor and applauded my imagination without commenting on my apparent (and unrealized) intentions. 

There still is no Santa Claus. Reading the background and positions offered by candidate Claus, I can see that his candidacy is an attention-grabbing publicity stunt, and a joke; far too much and far too little all at one time.

I first met Sarah Palin when she was Wasilla Mayor. When she ran, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for lieutenant governor, I saw that she had some surprising kind of star quality foretelling expanded horizons. There was one campaign photo that had her wearing a shooting vest and holding a break-open trap gun on her shoulder. I sent that photo to friends and gun rights people around the country, and over 100 people wrote back to say they envied Alaska for having candidates like that. 

After she easily won the her gubernatorial primary I helped her, at her request, gain fluency in one particular issue in that race – public employee retiree actuarial arithmetic – and was happy she bested the two challengers who had tag-teamed their assault. I sat with her then husband at one of the gubernatorial debates. 

She is no dummy, and she has remarkable instincts for publicity. She handily won her debate against the man who is now our President.

I do not support her run at our one US House seat. We would dread the national drama of whom she’s dating now, what she said on this or that talk show, and whether Alaska was moved ahead or backwards by the latest appearance on a talent show. Congress is not merely a stage for one-liners. Oratory zingers that make the nightly news, clever though they may sometimes be, don’t do all that much for Alaska voters. I strongly believe that years in the spotlight have robbed Sarah Palin of any ability to come up with new ideas or to be more than a characterization of her former self.   

Yes, Congressman Don Young could sometimes succumb to temptations to shock The Beltway with the odd exclamation, and most Alaskans were happy to abide, but we are not ready to replace Don Young with Sarah Palin. Indeed, she could not replace him. 

I don’t believe we would be well served with Tara Sweeney. I watched her Must Read Alaska interview on Facebook and was surprised that she didn’t feel the need to speak one word to Alaska Republicans. Moreover, she lacks energy and ideas. I think that everyone we send to Congress must and will look out for Native corporations, and I have no doubt that every Congress and every White House will pay special attention to the needs and desires of Alaska Natives, whether they reside in Alaska or not, but it’s clear to me that Tara Sweeney may see little need to look out for the broader values and concerns that Alaskans generally have about what Washington will next do to us.  

Juneau Empire coverage of a recent debate open only to Alaska Native candidates from within the 48 says that Tara Sweeney named sovereignty as the top challenge facing the U.S. Congress. Congressman Young was without peer in finding balance, and everything I have read from Tara Sweeney or heard her say indicates she does not understand how he did that.

I have been a supporter of Sen. Josh Revak in his short public career — until this one race.  I attended Anchorage fundraisers for his Alaska Senate efforts, and I have had high hopes for his continued progress.  However, in this field of 48 he has become a man in search of a headline, and he seemingly wants to be Sara Palin, Version II. Congressman Young was great at reassuring Big Labor without kowtowing to them, but it’s not clear to me that Josh Revak can learn how to do that. After all, he worked for Congressman Young, so if he hasn’t learned it by now… 

And finally, if Josh Revak picks fights with Alaska conservatives in order to gain votes in this crowded Congressional race, then I worry that he would forget all about Alaskans if we elected to send him to Washington.

I remain skeptical that we should give our one seat in the US House to someone never elected to public office, and that is my main concern regarding Nick Begich. I see him posing with a shotgun in a campaign ad and worry that he is a box-checker.  We need authenticity.  I think his transition from a Don Young campaign co-chair to a Don Young opponent smacks of self-interest, and I don’t believe that plays well in Alaska. We value steadfast loyalty. We were loyal to Don Young through thick and thin, and his passing should not serve as a windfall to anyone. Nick Begich is untried and untested, and his decisions as a candidate are anything but reassuring.

Of the candidates that have emerged from the pack the one with the best as well as the most extensive record is John Coghill, of Nenana and Fairbanks.    Alaska values are not boxes to check for John but instead have always been a way of life.    He has ever been anything but a publicity hound, and he has never tried to be on both sides of an issue in order to please opposing constituencies.   We always know where John Coghill stands, and we always know where we stand with him.   When we send someone to Washington we need to have the best possible understanding of what is important to them.  We would never see Congressman Coghill saying something embarrassing or stupid on the national news.  We get to send only three people to Washington, and no one else among the 48 could do as well for the Alaska team.

The problems facing America have been completely reshuffled and re-prioritized over the past two or three years, and Alaska has a large role in most or all of the eventual outcomes. John Coghill doesn’t require on-the-job training, and we won’t see him on a reality television show, nor will we see him doing anything but working hard in the U.S/ Congress representing all Alaskans. Please join me in voting for John Coghill.

Tom Boutin spent more than 17 years in state government, but also had a career spanning 30 years in the private sector, much of it in timber. He retired as president of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.



  1. Sorry Tom. Most people I know already voted for Nick Begich. Coghill family name is generally quite good, however, John lost me and many others with his position on not following a statutory PFD payout, as well as sponsoring legislation that puts criminals out on the streets early. Those were huge deal breakers for me. Also, John aligned himself too closely with Cathy Giessel, the little female tyrant from Anchorage. Sorry John. Your time has come and gone.

    • Bravo, well said!

      He and Lisa would be a great team, we’d have two in DC with their eyes only on re-election and acquisition of power instead of serving the people of Alaska.

      • Coghill is too old. Let a younger person in. These old people who have been in politics most of their lives are greedy and selfish. I voted for Nick Begich two weeks ago. Everyone else in my circle if family and friends did as well.

        • I will NEVER vote for John Coghill. He is still sour grapes and holds a big grudge because the people in his Senate district elected upstart Rob Meyers in 2020. Meyers is a true Conservative and doing a great job in Juneau. Coghill could have mentored Senator Meyers, but he was too busy being mad at his former constituents. Good riddance, John. I voted for another young upstart. Nick Begich III.

    • Patriot?
      In the prior Anchorage mayoral election between Ethan Berkowitz and Amy Demboski – do you know who NB3 vocally came out in support of?
      The conservative from Eagle River or the borderline Marxist that unceremoniously had to resign from office in disgrace?
      NB3 supported Berkowitz.
      Think about that Patriot.
      But I’m sure he’s a real “conservative” because he shoots guns in his political ads, right?

      • NB3 learned a big lesson when he saw Berkowitz get caught red-handed with his pants down. NB3 is still better than Sarah who can’t keep her powder dry when she is busy playing “cougar” to professional athletes in out-of-state venues.

  2. Too little, too late, too bad.

    John Coghill is an Alaskan political expedient.

    He has made major gross and expensive mistakes as an Alaskan politico, which have impacted the state adversely. He talks but does not do the walk.

    He almost singled handed brought us SB91 from a DC Beltway academic think tank without reading or vetting it. It cost Alaska millions in correcting this foolishness in property damage, criminal activities. judicial costs, and legislative correction. He with Walker and Giessel along with the Democrats effectively ruined the PFD with the POMV and Walker’s cuts. He helped to turn the PFD, an apolitical institution based on property and asset rights disbursement, into the political football it has become today.

    It’s amazing this foolish arrogance is being considered for Congress.

    A vote for John Coghill is a wasted vote.

    Alaska does not need another Don Young who like Murkowski and Sullivan for almost 50 years continued to enforce Alaska as a colony and never a sovereign state.

  3. We if your for him I am not because you are a politician and that’s why we are at this place today is mismanagement from you politicians.

  4. Imagine 850 miles away how ridiculous move our capital north to the citizens so help you GOD oath breakers 850 miles away what a waste. Just one Juneau session how much dose one session in Juneau cost us all here please how much???????????????? Suzanne please how much is the cost of one session in Juneau. We have empty buildings in anchorage and the valley ENOUGH

  5. NOT. I agree with your assessments except for candidate Nick Begich – having gotten to know Nick fairly well, he is by far and away the best candidate of the lot of 48. Sweeney is “pro-choice” and “pro-family” which tells me she doesn’t understand either one. Many Republicans in Senator Coghill’s district are upset with him because of his flip-flopping, accusing him of being a RINO. I don’t know the man – I knew his dad Jack, a good man who would have been a great congressman. John Coghill is NOT his dad. In every candidate forum where they have appeared together, Coghill says “Me too” to everything Begich says without offering us a reason to suspect he may have initiatives of his own. Nick Begich is the far smarter and far better candidate and has my vote and my support. Please join me in voting for Nick Begich for US Congress. Thanks.

  6. Cognhill was voted out of office for a good reason.

    Hopefully Revak follows him out the door permanently.

    John Coghill and Josh Revak consistently voted against a full statutory dividend. They chose to steal from their constituents PFD in the form of a head tax to fund government and special interests. This is the most regressive form of taxation and disproportionately hurts the poor and middle class.

    Coghill’s votes on HB57 (FY18), HB286 (FY19), SB19 (FY20), and HB205 (FY21) cost each man woman and child of Alaska over $5,000

    Coghill was so tone deaf and cruel to Alaskans plight during COVID lockdowns that on March 23, 2020, he voted against Alaskans receiving a one-time stimulus of $1,300 or $1,000. Ultimately, Alaskans would not receive a stimulus as people like Coghill voted to accept the recommendations of a rigged conference committee (Stedman, Von Imhof, Foster, Johnston), that stripped out the stimulus.

    This is how your legislature works. The special interests buy your politicians who rig the outome.

    MARCH 23, 2020

    Amendment #1 – pay $1,300 for coronavirus economic stimulus

    NOTE: NO votes (NAYS) are against immediate $1,300 coronavirus PFD relief to all Alaskans


    Yeas: Begich, Gray-Jackson, Hughes, Kawasaki, Olson, Reinbold,
    Shower, Wielechowski, Wilson

    Nays: Bishop, Coghill, Giessel, Hoffman, Kiehl, Micciche, Revak,
    Stedman, Stevens, von Imhof

    Excused: Costello

    Amendment #6 – pay $1,000 for coronavirus economic stimulus

    NOTE: NO votes (NAYS) were against immediate $1,000 coronavirus PFD relief to all Alaskans


    Yeas: Begich, Gray-Jackson, Hughes, Kawasaki, Micciche, Olson,
    Reinbold, Revak, Shower, von Imhof, Wielechowski, Wilson

    Nays: Bishop, Coghill, Giessel, Hoffman, Kiehl, Stedman, Stevens

    Excused: Costello

    and so, Amendment No. 6 was adopted.

  7. Too old and so was Don Young. At the end Young was loyal to himself while he played an entire decade of public servants as clowns in waiting. Nick Begich had the guts to say it and he has the vote of everyone in my house because he did.

  8. Swampers want to know, can Coghill write an earmark? Especially before the music stops. That’s the most important quality of a Don Young clone. And patronage jobs. Let the good times roll! (Think Cars)

  9. Congress is not a stage for one liners? Are you kidding me? Congress is a freaking circus and we had better send someone to represent us who can function amidst the insanity! Stodgy old Coghill wouldn’t last two minutes before he was compromised. Better to elect someone with star quality.

  10. I agree strongly with Most of what you said, however…SB91 speaks strongly as to where Coghill’s genuine sensitivities lie. He is a consumate politician as much as Murkowski has been. I don’t believe there is a dollar anywhere that he wouldn’t sell us out for to his own benefit.

    I’m a firm believer in the phrase “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and being all too familiar with the Coghill family and how SB91 directly benefitted them, he doesn’t deserve the vote of any Alaskan not related to him.

  11. Tom Boutin, a career politician, telling us to vote for a career politician.
    Coghill violated the law and took money away from hard working Alaskans.
    NB3, from the most liberal political family in Alaska, is going to be a real conservative – oh yeah, he is shooting a gun in his ads – that is a siren tell for RINO.
    Palin – yes she has some baggage, but I absolutely KNOW how she will vote on key issues.
    People not voting for Palin because of the “circus” is like people not voting for Trump because he sends “mean” tweets.
    Wake up.

  12. Nope. SB91 is all you need to know about Coghill. Begich has my vote. He’s not perfect, but he seems to be the best choice. Sweeney seemed good at first, but it appears she is too “Murkowski-ish” and that is poison to me.

  13. Sarah has my vote. We need a Star in Washington. One with plenty of one liners and one that is not scared of the swamp.
    SB 91 is enough said for a tired old politician.
    Begich is a name only created by the Alaska Swamp Republicans politician.
    It is easy to attack others when you have No Record to Attack. Nothing.
    Community Council, PTA, Road service Board, or Dog catcher.
    Tara, no energy and Native only candidate, it is obvious.

  14. I do not trust John Coghill. He speaks conservatively, then joins the liberals in Juneau.
    On the PFD, he is flat wrong. But he thinks he is smarter than the sum total of his constituents. We got rid of him in Fairbanks, just like those in Anchorage got rid of Giessel. Both are arrogant and very out of touch. Coghill is finished. He can go back to holding up anti-abortion signs outside of the abortion clinic. It’s a good place for John.

  15. Never John Coghill. He’s turned into a grouchy old man now. These cast-out, ex-politicians usually hit their graves early.

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