Holdout delegate gets meeting with Gore adviser

Posted: Thursday, August 17, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- An Alaska labor leader's threat to withhold his vote for Al Gore paid off Wednesday when he was granted a meeting with a top Gore aid to discuss natural resource development on the state's vast expanses of federal land.

Mano Frey, the head of the Alaska AFL-CIO, said he met with Mark Messenbaugh, the Gore campaign's issues coordinator.

''He's viewed by many as anti-development,'' Frey said of Gore. ''He wants to develop the theme of the things that he has done for development. I'm very excited about the prospect of helping them develop a pro-development statement regarding Alaska.''

Frey and a handful of other delegates had threatened to withhold their votes from Gore, which would deny the vice president a unanimous nomination. The price they asked -- and apparently got -- for his vote was a meeting with Gore or a top aide on oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other natural resource issues on federal land in Alaska.

''Without a stand like this, we never would have gotten the meeting,'' Frey said.

Many Alaskans see Gore as allied with Lower 48 environmentalists intent on shutting down oil drilling, mining and logging on federal lands. Frey called his meeting with Messenbaugh ''very productive.''

Frey said he never had any illusion he would convince Gore to support oil drilling in ANWR, but wanted to impress on his campaign the damage locking up Alaska's federal land could do to an economy dependent on natural resource extraction.

''He cannot use Alaska as the example to answer someone's guilt that lives in New Jersey or Connecticut,'' Frey said.

The Democratic Party platform adopted at the convention Tuesday opposes oil exploration in ANWR and logging in the Tongass National Forest.

A telephone call to a Gore spokeswoman was not immediately returned Wednesday evening.

A Gore campaign aide led Frey and Willie Anderson, Gore's campaign chairman in Alaska, back into the depths of the convention hall as Stevie Wonder was singing the National Anthem.

About an hour later, having missed national AFL-CIO president John Sweeney's speech, Frey returned with a satisfied smile to the Alaska delegation, many of whom sported white hard hats emblazoned with the words ''Open ANWR. Jobs and Energy.''

''You get some minor concessions?'' Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Chris Cooke joked. ''They exchange Lieberman for you?''

Other delegates cheered as Frey signed his name to commit his vote to Gore. The rest of a small uncommitted faction led by Frey also agreed to back Gore.

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