State Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced he is reentering the campaign after suspending his bid “to focus on his health. … Dunleavy made the announcement on Facebook during a live video broadcast.” (Must Read Alaska)
“[R]eports are that” businessman John Binkley (R) “is reluctant to enter the race, at least so far. Four of his children purchased the state’s largest daily newspaper this past fall, and have since returned the Alaska Dispatch News to its original name of the Anchorage Daily News.”
“Some poll results, which are confidential, show” Gov. Bill Walker’s (I) “popularity down and faring poorly in a three-way race, with a Republican candidate, mainly Dunleavy, showing stronger against an independent (Walker) and a Democrat. In a two-way race, with no Democrat and Walker as independent running only against a Republican, the Republican still looks to win, according to the poll conclusions, which were described to the Journal of Commerce.” (Alaska Journal of Commerce)
State Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D) “said he was ‘considering’ running against Walker to challenge his proposed fiscal reforms but would defer to” Sen. Mark Begich (D), “whom he said ‘would be a great governor.’”
“Begich criticized Walker’s cuts to the state’s permanent dividend in an interview at a conference of moderate Democrats [in November] in Washington and said Walker has ‘struggled to get things done’ on the North Slope oil pipeline, despite a new memorandum of understanding with Chinese stakeholders.”
“Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director Jay Parmley said the party still plans to back whoever wins its Aug. 21 primary despite having supported Walker three years ago. But he said the fact that there have been discussions ‘with at least two or three Democrats’ is ‘not to be construed as we’re actively searching for a candidate against’ Walker. Complicating matters further, the Alaska Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on a lower court’s decision to allow independents to seek the Democratic nomination. In an interview [last month], Walker didn’t rule out doing just that but noted he has filed as an independent candidate. Parmley said Democrats sought the initial ruling outside of the governor’s own deliberations.” (National Journal)
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"The Senate was expected to be back in session at noon, while House lawmakers were told to return to work for a 9 a.m. session. Mr. Trump on Friday had canceled plans to travel to his private resort on Palm Beach, Fla., where a celebration had been planned for Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of his first year in office."
"A stopgap spending bill stalled in the Senate Friday night, leading to a government shutdown for the first time since 2013. The continuing resolution funding agencies expired at midnight, and lawmakers were unable to spell out any path forward to keep government open. The Senate on Friday night failed to reach cloture on a four-week spending bill the House had already approved."
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."