Governor-elect Mike Dunleavy has his eyes on reforming the Alaska Constitution.
In a press conference Friday morning, new Dunleavy Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock announced the appointment of former state lawmaker Dick Randolph as a special adviser on constitutional amendments.
Randolph, a State Farm insurance agent in Fairbanks, was a statewide co-chair of Dunleavy’s election campaign. Randolph is a former state legislator who has vacillated between the Republican and Libertarian parties in his lengthy political career.
A staunch opponent of income taxes and a proponent of the Permanent Fund Dividend (he voted for legislation that created it), Randolph’s duties “will include advising governor-elect Dunleavy on which public policy issues should be considered for protection or clarification in Alaska’s constitution,” according to a press release sent after the conference.
“You can certainly count on the PFD being one of them,” said Dunleavy transition spokeswoman Sarah Erkmann Ward by email.
As a state senator in 2013, Dunleavy proposed a constitutional amendment to allow state funding for religious and private schools. That proposal advanced through the Senate but was pulled from a final vote after it failed to garner the needed 14 votes.
At the same time, Dunleavy also supported a constitutional amendment calling for changes to the Alaska Judicial Council, which nominates prospective judges before the governor makes the final selection. In 2014, Dunleavy joined a group of conservative lawmakers who said the state’s attorneys had too much influence on the judicial selection process.
During his campaign for governor, Dunleavy called for enshrining the Permanent Fund Dividend in the constitution and imposing a tougher spending cap on the state budget. A cap already exists but is well above current levels of spending.
Amending the state constitution is difficult: Any amendment requires two-thirds approval in the House and Senate before it is placed on the ballot for the next general election.
In the same press conference Friday, Babcock announced that former Gov. Sean Parnell will serve as a special adviser to Dunleavy on the trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline project known as Alaska LNG. Parnell, former director of government relations for ConocoPhillips, served as deputy director of the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas under Gov. Frank Murkowski, then as an attorney for a firm representing ExxonMobil.
As lieutenant governor under Gov. Sarah Palin, Parnell supported the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, which proposed a pipeline from the North Slope to Canada, where gas would flow into the Lower 48 distribution network. In 2014, Parnell — by then governor — abandoned the AGIA effort in favor of an in-state gas pipeline. That idea, under Gov. Bill Walker, became Alaska LNG.
Friday’s press conference also included the appointment of John Moller of Juneau as policy adviser to the governor. Moller’s appointment is a permanent one, Ward said by email. According to the press release announcing his appointment, his duties will include advising the new governor on rural issues.
Rep. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River, who was defeated in this year’s Republican primary for Senate District G by Rep. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, was announced as a member of Dunleavy’s transition team as well.
Saddler said Dunleavy’s next press conference will take place Wednesday, at the Resource Development Council Conference in Anchorage.
Dunleavy takes office at noon Dec. 3.
• Contact reporter James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 523-2258.