Sullivan for Senate

Haven’t heard back from the Daily News about writing an op-ed for them, though I have had a nice email exchange with my old editor, Mike Carey.  If I get a few printed I’ll have enough of a profile to be able to get re-involved up there in the Sullivan campaign.  I’ve never met him, since he got into politics about the time I was leaving.  His main opponent, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, was active when I was, but he had his nose shoved so far up Wally Hickel’s butt that I didn’t really know him.  Hickel was an asshole with money, and he liked to surround himself with sycophants who kowtowed to him.  He gave them jobs at some of his political projects and supported them.  They were required to listen to his deep thoughts (Wally was a big geopolitical thinker) and act like they were profound.  Guys like that shouldn’t get elected to the U. S. Senate.  Sullivan just got backing from the Club for Growth, and he’s raised a lot more money than Treadwell, so the race is his to lose, in the primary.  The general, against the politically talented incumbent Mark Begich, promises to be a knock down drag out, but if Sullivan has decent skills he should win.  Begich voted for Obamacare, he’s a Democrat in a very red state, and Obama’s approval is around 40% nationally, much lower in Alaska.  I met Begich when he was an Anchorage Assemblyman who was responsible for bringing traffic ticket dispensing cameras to Anchorage.  People hated the damn things, and I was involved in an initiative to outlaw them.  Begich came on the show to defend them, unsuccessfully.  I wasn’t too hard on him, and he showed some balls just coming on my show.  Seemed like an O.K. guy, really.  It sure would be fun to be part of a campaign that knocked him out of the Senate.

Beating Treadwell in the primary would be fun too.  Mainly because he was a Hickel guy.  After I helped take Wally out in ’78 as Chairman of Hands for Hammond, I was part of taking him out again in ’86, as principal advisor of Bipartisan Alaskans Against Hickel, BAAH (like a sheep).  This was my buddy Bob Clarke’s idea.  I lived with Bob in Juneau most of my eight years down there.  He was Hammond’s Communications Director (PR guy), and really good friend.  He told me all the good stories about Hammond, who he accompanied on trips out of state.  They were, like, pals.  Bob worshiped Hammond.  And Hammond did not want Hickel to be Governor.  He was afraid he’d destroy the Permanent Fund (worth, today, $50 billion).  So Bob wanted to do big full page attack ads against Hickel, accusing him of all kinds of things.  Sturulewski was running against Hickel, and she couldn’t be associated with the ads.  They were really rough.  So Bob somehow got some money from Sturgulewski people to run the ads, and formed BAAH.  But for a variety of reasons Bob’s name could not be associated with any of this.  I was House Minority Leader, and couldn’t be the flack catcher either.  So Bob said go find some college kid that likes Sturgulewski and we’ll make him the Chairman.  So I asked around and came up with this kid, who we convinced to do it.  His parents were big Sturulewski fans, so they went along.  So I had my secretary, Anne Williams, go get a BAAH P. O. Box, and we had ourselves an organization! 

We ran the ads and they were killers.  Caused a huge stink.  Charges.  Counter charges, big coverage in the papers and TV stations.  Everybody wanted to know what the hell BAAH was and who the hell was Paul Hansen (the college kid).  The heat got too strong and we had to produce the kid, at a press conference.  I prepped him pretty good, and he was really good.  I was proud of him.  But somebody had to set up the press conference, and be there with the kid.  Since Bob couldn’t do it, it was me.  I didn’t want to, at all.  These ads we ran were real hardball, and Hickel, and a lot of other people, would be pissed.  My name wasn’t mentioned in the papers, or on TV.  But Hickel and people in politics knew.  These guys were going to have a hard on for me for a long time.

On the bright side, I was getting a reputation as a guy you didn’t want to mess with.

Wally and me

I’d been in Alaska four years in 1978, and did not expect to be able to do much politically that year.  In ’74 I’d pissed off Sen. Mike Gravel, calling him a snake in a letter to the editor.  In ’76 I’d pissed off Sen. Ted Stevens by refusing to allow his personal secretary to be a delegate to the state convention.  In ’78 I’d complete the trifecta, by calling former Governor, former Secretary of the Interior, and gubernatorial candidate Wally Hickel — one of the wealthiest and influential people in the state — a political opportunist.  Hickel hated me ever since, and did what he could to hurt me politically.  Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell was one of Hickel’s lackeys.  He’s running for the U. S. Senate.  It’s one reason I’m supporting Sullivan for Senate.

One guy who remembered that ’74 letter to the editor was Bill McConkey, who’d been sent up by the RNC to run the Republican Senate campaign of C. R. Lewis, a big Bircher.  Gravel creamed him, but Bill stuck around, got a job with Hammond, and in ’78 was running Jay’s reelection campaign.  He kind of reached out to me and we became good friends.  He got me involved with Hammond.  I did a lot of gofer stuff, chauffeuring Bella, Jay’s beautiful Eskimo wife, around South Central.  She never said a word to me.  It wasn’t personal.  She was a private person.  I took Jay to the Dimond Mall to shake hands with the public.  That lasted about two minutes.  Jay was not going to do it, and that was that.

Bill decided he wanted to attack Hickel, who was beating Hammond in the polls.  We decided to accuse him of running for Governor only as a steppingstone to a White House bid.  But neither Hammond, or his campaign, could do it.  This was a Republican primary, and we’d need Hickel voters in the general.  So Bill told me I was now chairman of Hands for Hammond, a volunteer organization, not affiliated with the campaign itself.  It wasn’t a falsehood, since I was the organization and I had two hands.  I put out a press release that Bill and I wrote and the Daily News ran a story on it.  Somebody asked Hickel about it the next day and he blew his top, just got royally pissed off.  We had ourselves a story.  It was not a good story for Hickel.

Jay won that primary by 97 votes.

SC, WI, AZ

We’ll get Michigan and Louisiana.  That would be 24.  We need these three to get to 27 this year, giving us just seven to go.  We need one Wisconsin senator, Glenn Grothman.  Eagle Forum type guy.  Sponsor Rep. Chris Kapenga is a bright guy, and knows what he’s doing.  He hasn’t moved him yet.  I’m sure he’s thinking of everything.  We’re all brainstorming on ways to approach him.  Hard to say.

We finally got to the bottom of the problem in South Carolina.  The bill was being held in the Senate because hanky panky was used to pass it in the House.  So we’re starting over, with a Senate bill.  We should, I hope, be able to muster enough support to get it through.  The Eagle Forum/Bircher problem seems more pronounced in the West than in the South.

Arizona gets down to Senate President Biggs.  Someone called in to Levin’s show about Arizona and Biggs, and Mark raised hell about it.  I didn’t hear the show, but Levin goes batshit at the least provocation.  It got to Biggs.  Now he’s willing to talk to people.  I’ll be trying to get on the Mike Broomhead show, KFYI, Phoenix, to talk about it.  I called Alaska Senate Majority Leader John Coghill this morning, to get a read on the CoS bill up there.  He said it looked good, and I passed that on to Meckler.  We want to work with him on Biggs, who he says he’s tight with.  I’m optimistic.

Early returns on the pledge letter, 25 from West Virginia, six from Kentucky.  This is important in Kentucky.  It shows our sponsor. Rep. DeCesare, that we’re worth working closely with.  It’s entirely possible Kentucky could be 34 next year, when we dump Speaker Stumbo.  West Virginia’s a long term thing.  We won’t get the Senate until 2016, unless there’s a coalition.  Could happen.  So the letter is worth sending.  Idaho and Montana next.  A lot of work, but what the hell.  I’ll be at this for another couple years. 

What else am I going to do?

Jay Hammond

I’ve decided to involve myself with the Dan Sullivan for Senate race in Alaska.  One of his primary opponents is a nut, the other one is Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, one of Hickel’s boys.  Sullivan’s the better man, and candidate.  He came to AK in ’97 or so, and I don’t know him, and probably don’t know his campaign manager either.  So I’m going to introduce myself to them by writing a piece in the Anchorage Daily News.  I wrote a bi-weekly column for them for five years in the 90’s until they asked Sen. Ted Stevens if they could do anything for them.  Ted said, “Get rid of Pettyjohn”, so they did.  The guy who told me that story was Mike Carey, my editor there.  I’ve emailed him, and I’m sure he’ll help get me on.  It’ll be about Jay Hammond and the Permanent Fund, and include the story of Jay’s first National Governor’s meeting.  He went to a governor’s prayer meeting and met Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.  Jay called me up at the height of the Lewinsky scandal and said he wanted to visit my law office.  He’d never done that.  He wanted to share a laugh at his own expense, about how Clinton’s big blue eyes were so sincere and convincing.

If this goes over well, I’ll write one or two more about Hammond.  There’s lots of stories.  This will re-identify me in Alaska, and associate me with Hammond.  It will introduce me to Sullivan.  And maybe Sullivan and I can figure a way to use it to identify Sullivan with Hammond.

In Alaska, that’s political gold.

The Day I Nailed Sheffield.

Tennessee came in last night, an overwhelming vote.  22.  Bill Furth gets the credit.  He did a hell of a job.

I learned, or relearned, a great deal in Utah.  The biggest was the levels of ignorance and pigheadedness to be found among state legislators.  I knew this when I served, but it had faded from my memory.  These people, or a lot of them, are so parochial and paranoid that it’s breathtaking.  In Utah the problem is that 75 people showing up for a House district caucus can deny you the Republican nomination.  That scares these guys.  I’ve thought of the solution.  It’s based on a time in my own career.

In ’82 I’m running for the State Senate.  It’s tough.  I only really started living in Alaska in ’74, and I didn’t really know very many people.  I’m not a very social guy, so outside of political inside circles I’m a mystery man.  Plus, I’m a lawyer.  Not good. Plus, I was part owner (or was) of a couple big rock and roll bars, Gussie L’Amour’s and Swiftwater Bill’s.  Not good.  My Democratic opponent was a political amateur, but he was one of the biggest homebuilders in Anchorage.  He put about a hundred grand of his own money up.  I was outspent 2-1. 

The governor’s race was Republican Tom Fink, Democrat Bill Sheffield, and Libertarian Dick Randolph of Fairbanks.  Fink was hugely popular in my district.  He took it 2-1.  So I wanted to align myself with him, but he didn’t trust me.  I was identified with the Hammond wing of the Republican Party, and Fink thought I was some kind of RINO.

Sheffield was running a TV ad statewide — except for Anchorage — called Rhode Island Red.  It said Fink was the Anchorage candidate, and he was the candidate of all of Alaska.  The whole state hates Anchorage, so it was working.

They had a gubernatorial debate at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Bill’s home turf.  He was a past president.  When they got to Q and A from the audience I was first up.  I asked him, “How does that TV ad you’re running everywhere but Anchorage, Rhode Island Red, fit in with your theme of bringing Alaskans together?”  Bill had no answer, and his reply was incoherent.  The poor bastard had a speech impediment  to begin with, and as he started mumbling and stuttering people in the audience started laughing at him.  It was brutal.

Fink took a shine to me, and I’m not sure I would have won without his help.  I only won 52-48.  But Sheffield also won, and as a freshman State Senator I faced a Governor who wanted a piece of my ass.  This was a problem.  Because of reapportionment, my Senate seat was up again in two years, and I knew damn well Bill was out to get me.  It was personal.

So when I got to Juneau I’d go back to the office every night at 6:00 and make cold calls back to my district.  Actually my secretary, Anne Williams made the call, and passed it to me when she got through.  I called only Republican  and Independent supervoters, both husband and wife.  I’d say, “This is Fritz Pettyjohn down in Juneau.  I represent you in the State Senate.  Is there any issue or area of particular concern to you, that I should be working on?”

People ate it up.  I’d go two, three hours a night.  The next day they got a letter thanking them for taking the time to talk to me, and assuring them that education, or whatever the hell they were interested in, was a priority of mine.  They would tell neighbors, and people at work, “Dude, I got a call from Senator Pettyjohn last night.  He wanted to know what I thought.”

Electoral gold.