The Great GOP Cannibal War of 2013: News from the Front
I return to you breathless, stumbling into camp, clutching a piece of paper. Think of me as your scout, bringing the latest dispatch from the front. I report to you from the Great Cannibal War of 2013-2014, which some of you may know as the Alaska GOP Senate race.
General Joe Miller’s’ forces are all in line. They’re hanging around, polishing their buttons, steam ironing their Snake Flags, and running a lint roller over their three-cornered hats. But the other side, the “moderate” side is in disarray. What could have been an easy primary battle, has turned into what the ex-half-governor Sarah Palin would have called, “A clussster.”
First there’s Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell, who jumped in the race a while ago, to almost deafening silence. He spent the summer appearing at random events like the 4th of July parade, where he fast-walked down the Park Strip holding an umbrella with some kind of wildlife on it, awkwardly barking, “Happy Birthday America!” over and over. And over. It’s no secret that Gov. Parnell isn’t the Lite gov’s biggest fan. But he’s upholding a tradition. When he was the #2 guy, his boss Sarah Palin thought he was a tool who couldn’t manage money, and repeatedly took him to the woodshed about his campaign debt. But I digress.
Then, straight from the white marble halls of Washington D.C. (which many in his party in Alaska like to call “The Evil Empire”) comes Dan Sullivan. Not malevolent, juvenile Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan – they just happen to share a name. Sullivan spends every sentence desperately saying things like “my fellow Alaskans” and “our great state” and “my deep roots” in order to not sound like the on-again, off-again carpetbagger that actual Alaskans know he is. He’s got an impressive military background, and a distinguished beltway insider career.
Miller’s troops are faithful, and fiery-eyed, staring into the sky like Joan of Arc. So, the other two factions are now meeting on the field of battle. Mano a mano, elephant a elephant, cannibal a cannibal in a quest for the “other” vote. It’s quite a show, and a lot of it has to do with where the individual troops have chosen to throw their allegiance. Because now that Dan Sullivan is in the race, they have something their party doesn’t enjoy giving other people – a choice.
Like a rat from a sinking ship, former Republican Party Chair and powerful political strategist Randy Ruedrich has already leapt to the Sullivan side, putting his name on a fundraiser for Sullivan, even though Treadwell is actually a Republican office holder at the moment. And you may be saying to yourself, “Well, Ruedrich is retired now, technically, so it’s not really a huge deal.”
To which I would say to you as I unfold the dispatch in my hand, that Peter Goldberg, the current Republican Party Chair (he’ll be the fourth in the last year and a half) was also spotted going in to the fundraiser last night. Goldberg has been in the news recently after stating about police and firefighters, “I don’t buy the argument that their job is dangerous,” as a reason to cut pay and benefits. After being called out, Goldberg suddenly realized that for some crazy reason people seemed offended by this, and so he’d better “apologize.” He artfully countered, after admitting that there was some element of risk, that if he “could rewrite that line, he would.” Yes, I’m quite sure that’s true, Mr. Goldberg.
And that’s not the only notable Republican who showed up at Sullivan’s event. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan (who is running for Lt. Governor as Treadwell leaves) was also there, throwing in for the man who shares his name. Mayor Dan made some joke about the fact that he was going to walk off with the donation checks, and as long as people just checked any box that said Dan Sullivan everything would be fine. Ahuh huh huh huh. <—–Wealthy, old, white, Republican, big donor laugher.
The only other office-holder we’ve seen show up for Sullivan is Rep. Bill “The Naked Baker” Stoltze who attended his campaign announcement presser. Maybe he can be the camp cook.
So, that’s quite a crew he’s got there.
His speech was pretty much a retread of the one he gave at the campaign kickoff, which is probably a good thing because answering questions off-the-cuff doesn’t seem to be in his skill set. He’s been evasive with the press, and when he showed up on friendly ground for an interview on a local right-wing radio station, and got asked the unbelievable softball question, “Who are you?” it took him 30 seconds to stammer out:
“Certainly I’m somebody who… (pause) share’s core values with his fellow Alaskans*… (pause) and a I think that’s something that’s gotta be one of the most critical things that you would have in a US Senator.”
[*note the predictable "I'm really one of you" catch phrases]
When talking about why he was running (another trick question), he did not hesitate to give a bizarre jab to “career politicians.”
“It’s been done by politicians who are career politicians who aren’t there to do something they’re there to BE something – that’s not what I’m going to go to the US Senate for.”
It’s not clear exactly to whom he is directing this weird barb. But considering the fact that his earlier career included working in Washington D.C. for the Bush White House as an Assistant Secretary of State under Condoleeza Rice and being the President’s lead advisor at the G8 Summit… and that he’s been obviously climbing the ladder from DC insider, to Alaska Attorney General, to the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources (oil), he must be defining “career politicians” as those who actually get elected by the people, and not appointed by powerful friends.
OK, so that’s your debrief. I’m going to go back to my little vantage point on the hill and see how the Great Cannibal War is progressing. I’ll report back when I have more news.