Monday, March 30, 2009

Weighing in on Sarah's Pick of Tim Grussendorf to replace Kim Elton

Once again, the hubris demonstrated by our Governor prompts me to venture forth and add my commentary to the din.
First, a brief history of the situation:

State Senator Kim Elton, D-Juneau, this month accepted an appointment by President Barack Obama as Director of Alaska Affairs in the U.S. Department of Interior. Kim is an acquaintance of mine. I think that this is a good career move for Kim, and it's very good for Alaska. It will be refreshing to have a sane voice in that capacity.

On to the problem created by that appointment: Governor Palin, Republican (Evangelical), was left has the task of appointing a replacement for Elton's vacant State Senate seat. It must be a Democrat (man, you know THAT sticks in her craw).

As is the custom, Senate Democrats are expected to offer potential replacement Democrats to fill the seat. Often, in a case like this, the Governor gets a list to choose from. She may have anticipated such, I don't know.

But - to Palin's chagrin, the Dems offered but ONE name: State Representative Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau. That got Sarah's panties in a bunch.

Whether or not several names should have been offered is a moot point. I know Beth. Frankly, she is the only logical choice. A progressive Democrat, Beth is a tough but fair, disciplined legislator. The daughter of Jay Kerttula, one of the longest serving and most savvy members ever of the Alaska State Senate, her political acumen is no accident.

"Beth's a Progressive Democrat and such as! You betcha we can't have that," muses the Governor, "and also."

So, Sarah spends a little time on searching (almost the entire 30 days allowed for her to make the appointment) and comes up with a name: Tim Grussendorf.

Tim is the son of Ben Grussendorf, a former Democratic Legislator from Sitka, former (several times) Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives. I knew Ben back in the day. I know Tim slightly, too. He worked as a House Page during one of the times his dad was speaker. He was just a kid at the time, so any impressions I may have of him from that time are certainly no longer valid.

Grussendorf currently works for Senator Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel (who will be one of the votes on whether to accept or reject Mr. Grussendorf's appointment - funny how that works.. Alaska's a small place, politically speaking).

But hey - he's a Democrat, right (albeit a "conservative" one by his own admission)? Well.....there's an interesting twist to this scenario:

Until recently, Tim Grussendorf was a registered Republican!

When Senator Kim Elton revealed he was under consideration for an appointment to a position with the Obama administration, and the Senate seat looked like it might be up for grabs, Mr. Grussendorf dashed down to the Division of Elections office, and changed his party affiliation.

Now, Tim's story is that the "R" behind his name was all a mistake by the Elections people. In 2006, he wanted to vote in the closed Republican primary, so changed his affiliation to "undeclared." Had to be that those doggone elections officials screwed it up! Funny. I have a number of friends who did the same thing... and it says "undeclared" on their voter's cards. I'm pretty sure you have to indicate on the form which party you are in to be sure that you are listed as a Republican.

Tim's carried around that Voter ID card since 2006. Apparently, he never pulled it out of his wallet until he saw an opportunity to be handed a plum. He apparently "just never noticed he was a Republican" when he was voting in the last general election, either.

Blaming someone else for your ineptness? Huh. No wonder Sarah likes Tim. They share that trait.

In any event, the Senate Democrats should soundly reject this appointment.

Lyman - even you don't get a pass. Here's the worst case scenario for you if vote "no" on Mr. Grussendorf: He either

a.) Accepts that you prefer Kerttula in the seat, and continues to work as a valued staff member, or

b.) Quits in a fit of pique, allowing you to hire an actual Democrat to replace him.

The rest of the Alaska State Senate Democrats - Hollis French, Bettye Davis, Donny Olson, Joe Thomas, Johnny Ellis, Albert Kookesh, Joe Paskvan, and Bill Wielechowski - it should be a no-brainer for you guys.

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