The thin man

KENAI – The ever-thinner chief executive of the state of Alaska is not sick, his chief spokesman said today, he’s simply exercising an interest in health and fitness.

“Standing Tall for Alaska” Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s 30-pound or greater weight loss is wholly intentional, said spokesman Matt Shuckerow.

“He’s watching what he eats,” Shuckerow said. “He’s working out. He’s getting healthy.”

Dunleavy’s health has been a source of speculation for many in the 49th state for at least a month given the baggy clothes hanging from his 6-foot, 7-inch frame emphasizing his weight loss.

The physical change has not made the news because the governor’s office has not put out a media release explaining Dunleavy’s success with the ketogenic diet or “Keto” as a lot of people refer to it for short.

This is the way the news works these days. Shuckerow said a couple of reporters did ask about the 58-year-old governor’s weight and were simply informed that Dunleavy is healthy. That apparently prevented them from reporting what is obvious to anyone with eyes.

The Dunleavy of today is noticeably not the chubby-faced fellow in his official portrait.

“I”ve had two reporters ask (about this),” Shuckerow said. “I have pushed back on them…

“(The governor) has not desired to make an issue bout his health.”

A friend of the governor’s said here on Wednesday that he thought Dunleavy needed to get a new wardrobe so it doesn’t look like he’s wasting away in his old suits. Dunleavy was in the Kenai Peninsula city to attend the Kenai River Classic, a fishing event that is a fundraiser for the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.

Aside from looking marathon-runner thin, Dunleavy appeared fit, healthy and full of energy. Aides said he’s lost at least 30 pounds and would like to lose a little more but that his staff thinks trying to get his weight near 200 pounds is too much given his height.

National  “healthy weight” tables say the normal weight of a 6-foot, 7-inch man should be 198 to 242 pounds, but in a country where the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports “more than two in three adults (are) considered to be overweight or have obesity,”  Americans are conditioned to look at those on the lean side of normal as frighteningly skinny.

And there have been reasons to believe Dunleavy – who underwent a procedure to fix a misfiring heart prior to the election and who recently had a skin cancer removed – might be suffering health issues if for no other than the stress of his job.

Exhausting budget battle

The governor has been under heavy political fire for budget cuts and is facing a recall effort by a group that, according to its website, believes Dunleavy’s “sudden, severe, and sometimes illegal budget cuts have caused tremendous harm to Alaska and Alaskans.”

The latter – illegal budget cuts – would appear central to getting the initiative on the ballot. Lawyers seem in agreement the electorate needs a bigger reason than “we don’t like the guy” to recall a governor.

The state budget is a difficult issue. Even after Dunleavy’s vetos, it is running a deficit of about $700 million. 

The recall group believes that “with careful planning” Alaska can afford everything Dunleavy cut and still cover the deficit. It has not spelled out exactly how.

Dunleavy supporters say opponents have been deluded by decades of living on the fat of oil revenues that fueled state budget growth to number two in the nation in per capita state and local spending, according to the U.S. government spending website.

Only the District of Columbia at $27,082 per person tops Alaska’s $20,337, but it’s complicated. Supporters of the state’s high spending cite the elevated cost of living in the nation’s northernmost possession and the extreme poverty in rural Alaska, a part of the state with which Dunleavy is well familiar.

The governor worked for almost 20 years as a teacher and then school administer in remote Northwest Alaska and there met his wife, Rose, an Alaska Native from the Kobuk River community of Noorvik.

Rural Alaska – home to about a third of the state’s population – presents unique problems in that there is generally no economy there, and thus no local property taxes to help support village schools and other infrastructure projects, and no employers – other than government which provides the bulk of jobs – to pick up health insurance costs.

Nearly 60 percent of the people in rural Alaska are on Medicaid for which the state and national government pick up the tab, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation; the national average is just under 20 percent.

Dunleavy won election by promising to balance the state budget and give Alaska voters a $3,000 permanent fund dividend (PFD) to make up for former Gov. Bill Walker’s veto of half the dividend in 2018.

Budget woes forced Dunleavy to compromise with the Legislature on a $1,600 PFD, and he has admitted that balancing the budget is proving far more difficult than he thought. It doesn’t appear that it is going to get easier.

The state budget is still largely funded by oil taxes, and crude oil prices are about $10 per barrel less than they were in 2018 with the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasting they are likely to stay that way through 2020. 

Dunleavy might have been well advised to get in shape for what’s ahead.










20 replies »

  1. What Matthew Carberry says here is certainly true – or at least, used to be true. There is a standardized art to ‘adjusting’ an off-the-rack suit to optimize it for you. Actually not an ‘art’, just a collection of little ‘tricks’.

    The military used to always support tailoring services, around most-any good-sized Base. Maybe not so much nowadays, with purposely dowdy (dress) uniforms … but they “issue” your suit, and palm-forehead homely outcomes are not uncommon.

    Anchorage should have enough people to support a tailor or few; Juneau has a relatively large population of the kinds of people who tend to need/seek such services (Gov, office workers).

    But. As an unusually tall man, and as a tubby guy, Dunleavy has long been ‘challenged’ to get cloths to fit him, so he knows about getting a suit fitted.

    Therefore, he’s deliberately showing off, drawing attention to himself by walking around in his ‘Wow dude, you’re losing a lot of weight!’ fat-clothes.

  2. So this is what Alaska thinks 30 pounds looks like?

    I want y’all picking out my 30# cut of the bullion.

    This is 50 pounds … pushing 70. More?

    Easy there now, big fella…

  3. Obviously, he’s thinking about running for President.

    It looks good … but ask Jeb Bush about side-effects.

  4. “A friend of the governor’s said here on Wednesday that he thought Dunleavy needed to get a new wardrobe so it doesn’t look like he’s wasting away in his old suits.”

    At least hie thee to a tailor, guv’nor. No reason to look sloppy.

    Aside from the constant slouching and inability to look people in the eye, one pet peeve of mine is young men who have never been taught how to wear clothing properly. They are out in clubs and bars wearing off the rack suits, some even kinda spendy, but didn’t bother (or know) to have them fitted. A properly tailored “cheap” suit can still look sharp, particularly if worn with a sense of pride as evidenced by good posture.

    Yet another consequence of no responsible male role models and an infantilizing of young people..

  5. Weight should stabilize now that Babcock has been put in the corner.
    He’s still as clueless as ever.
    I dont think he can get himself out of the corner he has allowed himself to be painted in.
    Meanwhile the state burns,in more than one way

    • Dave,

      Not sure how really “cornered” Babcock is these days, since he is still close on the payroll in the administration as “Senior Policy Advisor”?
      Obviously once the Libby Bakalar lawsuit was allowed to move forward in the courts against Dunleavy and Babcock the GOP decided it was time to “change seats” for Tuckerman.
      The reality is you are correct when you say our “state burns, in more than one way”…
      This “burning” is garnishing national attention these days in sort of a “Trumpian Tone”.
      As the Recall effort advances along with the lawsuits in court and the uncontrolled wildfires (many of which were ignited way back in June) we will see “disasters” decaled across the North in more ways than one.

      Esquire just wrote an interesting article online:
      “The State of Alaska Is in Desperate Trouble…
      Its law enforcement, environment, and political leadership are simultaneously deteriorating.


  6. We cannot keep spending money, we do not have. The price of ANS is not going up, it probably will dip even lower. The world is awash in oil. They do not need our gas, nor want it, unless we can produce at lower 48 cost. Not gonna happen.

    Why anyone ever thought the gas pipeline would work? is beyond me. We got suckered in. What about the $500 million Palin spent on it? What a farce!
    Get serious and start living within the state revenues we bring in. We are not the Federal Gov, which can raise the debt ceiling and print more money.

    • “Why anyone ever thought the gas pipeline would work? is beyond me. We got suckered in. What about the $500 million Palin spent on it?”

      Because Obama wanted $7/gallon gas.. Imagine the “hungry” Alaskan mouths open. It is a toss-up between those wanting their free cheese and those doing what is right.

      In 2008, Obama made comments about “bankrupting” coal plant owners and making energy prices “skyrocket.”

      “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” Obama said during a meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board.

      “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. “

      • Coal fire electrical plants are dirty technology. More coal plants have closed, during last couple years, due to lower cost natural gas plants starting up.
        Ever lived or been close to a coal plant, there are not enough filters to screen out the toxic particles, dust and chemicals, which are spewed into the air.
        What about that Healy clean coal plant?

      • James, Obama’s war on the Energy sector wasn’t limited to coal. Solendra, new drilling permits, etc..

      • Jame’s, can it get anymore anti-American than this bafoon?
        “On Thursday’s “All In” on MSNBC, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) outright admitted to host Chris Hayes a federal government takeover of energy production would be required by his plan to combat climate change.

        Hayes raised the possibility of an extension of some form of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Sanders responded by saying it would require government-manufactured electricity “from solar and from wind and from other sustainable energies.”

  7. “The recall group believes that “with careful planning” Alaska can afford everything Dunleavy cut and still cover the deficit. It has not spelled out exactly how.”
    Well, I am no economist but it appears if we knock the oil tax credits down about half of the Billion Dollars they currently are and implement a fair income tax of around 3% (which is still one of the lowest rates in the country) then we can help maintain our services and pay residents a dividend that is in line with the original formula.
    (We can also put some money toward planning for the large scale wildfires that are in Alaska’s future)
    Otherwise land owners should petition the state for mineral rights and development our own property to its fullest extent.

    • I’m not sure where you get your understanding of fair, but penalizing people for being productive certainly isn’t my idea of fair. The former and failed governor Bill Walker, tried to pass an income tax that would have stolen about $200,000,000 from the people who actually make commerce happen in this state, it was rejected for many reasons…least of which was that that amount of money doesn’t help the government but penalizes the economy as a whole.

      A large part of the reason we’ve had a couple of wildfires that have made the news is because the impact on the north and the south of the population center of the state. Another much larger reason is that the people in charge spent decades keeping smaller fires at bay and allowing fuel loading in our forests. Throwing more money at decades of mismanagement will not help the problem, at some point people will open their eyes and see that fact.

      • Steve O…
        Just heard a story on public radio yesterday that the Dunleavy administration paid $35,000 for a survey of Alaskans…
        Never guess what?
        52 percent of Alaskans polled favor raising taxes to pay for government services (and that includes an income tax)…
        Looks like you and your Libertarian party friends are in the minority these days?

      • Steve,

        Do you have any links to that information or is this one of those I heard something and have no proof of anything polls?

      • Thanks for the link Steve. Seems like an interesting and confused poll. “Fifty-four percent of respondents opposed diverting part of the Permanent Fund dividend to pay for government services, which aligns with the governor’s agenda, while 43 percent were in support and 3 percent were unsure. (That question was asked a second time after the poll tested different arguments for and against using money from the dividend on government services; the results changed to 55 percent opposed, 44 percent in support and 1 percent unsure.)”

        I’m not sure that a poll of 602 Alaskans is representative of anything, especially without know what their party registration make up is or where those polled are from. Also the 4% margin of error doesn’t or shouldn’t inspire confidence that a majority of Alaskans want more taxes to fund state government. Polling in Alaska, as I’m sure you are aware can be a fools errand.

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