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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"Iranian hackers have laid the groundwork to carry out extensive cyberattacks on U.S. and European infrastructure and on private companies, and the U.S. is warning allies, hardening its defenses and weighing a counterattack, say multiple senior U.S. officials. Despite Iran having positioned cyber weapons to carry out attacks, there is no suggestion an offensive operation is imminent, according to the officials, who requested anonymity in order to speak."
"Negotiators from the Senate and House of Representatives late Thursday agreed to abandon efforts to reinstate harsher sanctions" against Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. "Draft language advanced in the House earlier this year focused on a procurement ban for ZTE products, whereas the Senate approved language that would reinstate the sales ban for U.S. companies to sell to ZTE." The change is a major win for President Trump, who has had exempted the company from earlier sanctions as part of broader trade negotiations with China.
"President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments" to former Playboy model Karen McDougal "who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump." The FBI seized the recording during an April raid of Cohens office. "The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election," which may violate federal campaign finance laws. Days before the election, Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks denied any knowledge of the payment, and said that the allegations were "totally untrue."
Conservative Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, a former CIA agent, says in a New York Times op-ed this morning that Russian intelligence is "manipulating" President Trump. "The leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and foes abroad," he writes.