Old DC jobs are new again for two Alaskans

Mark Begich ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2018. (Photo by Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Two Alaskans are back at their old jobs in Washington, D.C., both because of the election of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

“Sometimes it feels like I was just on a long vacation,” jokes Kip Knudson, who is again working as the Alaska governor’s lobbyist in D.C. – or, as the job is officially called, “director of state-federal relations.”

Knudson first ran the state’s D.C. office under Gov. Sean Parnell. Gov. Bill Walker kept him on for nearly a year, then dismissed him and downgraded the office.

Knudson went to work on the staff of the U.S. Senate Energy Committee, and then as a lobbyist for Tesoro and Marathon Oil.

Kip Knudson. (Photo: State of Alaska)

Running the state’s Washington office entails advocating for the governor’s priorities to Congress and the federal agencies. Knudson said the priorities tend to stay fairly consistent from one governor to the next: “Develop natural resources, have better access to lands, make sure we’re utilizing federal programs to the best of our abilities, to ensure that the federal government understands what life is like in Alaska, and how federal one-size-fits-all programs sometimes need to be catered specifically to life in Alaska.”

The other Alaskan back at a Washington job is Mark Begich, the candidate Dunleavy defeated in November.

The loss freed Begich to return to the private-sector post he took after he lost his U.S. Senate seat in 2015.

Begich did not return messages or emails, but Politico reports he has resumed work for the lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and will split his time between D.C. and Alaska. When he worked for Brownstein Hyatt before his run for governor, Begich was a “strategic advisor” and did not register as a lobbyist. This time, Politico reports, he intends to lobby. Begich is also the founder and president of Northern Compass Group, an Anchorage-based consulting firm.