I got started in Alaska politics in 1974, right after I took the bar. A Bircher, C. R. Lewis was running against Mike Gravel. I wrote a letter to the Anchorage Times calling Gravel a fork tongued politician. In 1976 I organized Spenard for Reagan, and we took over the district convention. Ted Stevens’ personal secretary thought she was entitled to be a delegate. I agreed to let her attend as the fifth alternate. Reagan lost the State Convention by one vote. In other districts controlled by Reagan they were more accommodating than I was, and it cost Reagan over twenty national delegates.
In the summer of 1980 nothing more needed to be done in the Reagan campaign, and I agreed to work for Murkowski for Senate as deputy campaign manager at $4,000 a month. It was the first, and last, money I ever made in politics. Frank’s opponent, Clark Gruening, had sponsored an idiotic bill in the legislature to give the environment standing to sue. Bill McConkey had been sent to Alaska to run C. R. Lewis’ campaign, and had stayed, getting work as a political consultant. He was now running Murkowski’s campaign and nobody had figured out how to use the “Environmental Bill of Rights” against Gruening. Dittman had the race dead even. I figured it out, Frank had a press conference, and the Anchorage Times ran a banner headline, “Murkowski Brands Gruening as Environmentalist”. Frank immediately took a ten point lead, which wound up being his victory margin.
Frank knew I wanted to take his seat whenever he decided to make his run at the job he really wanted –Governor. When I was elected to the State Senate two years later, I figured I was in a good spot. But Ted Stevens couldn’t stand me, and he didn’t want me anywhere near Washington.
I met Lisa on Frank’s campaign. She was a pleasant, if empty headed, young woman. I couldn’t understand why she ran for a seat in the State House sixteen years later. Then it dawned on me. She was being groomed for an appointment to the United States Senate. When she ran for reelection in 2000 I knew the fix was in, and Babbie and I began making plans to leave the state. She was getting herself qualified so that Frank could appoint her to his seat when he was elected Governor in 2002. Babbie and I left in 2001 before it all went down.
I’ve done a lot in politics. The only money I ever got out of it was that $12,000 I earned on the 1980 Senate campaign. I’ve become so involved in the last two years that I have neglected my investments, and have lost 40% of my retirement money as the price of oil went down. I didn’t have the time or energy to figure it all out. Now Babbie says she can’t afford a cleaning woman any more, so she’s going to start cleaning the toilets herself. She worked so hard in my law office that she literally wore the fingerprints off her typing fingers. She’s 68.
So it’s back to the stock market for me. I knew what the market reaction to the Cruz victory in Alaska would be, and I have profited accordingly. I’m going to have to do a lot more of that to make Babbie feel more comfortable. Either that or get a job.
I’m suspending my work for the Task Force, have nothing to show for what I’ve done for the Cruz campaign, and no longer have time to think about Alaska politics. I feel like a sucker.
When Frank Bickford texted me the results from the caucuses early Wednesday morning, I had a sense of great satisfaction. I had done something truly remarkable. It was my finest moment in politics, and I”ll remember it until the day I die.
As a political volunteer, it was my final act.