Alaska’s Senate Race – The Morning After

19 11 2008

Alaska has a Blue Senator. Mark Begich has won the election.

So where do we stand, and what does this mean?

Mark Begich – It means that Mayor Senator Begich gets to pack his bags and head to Washington DC, with his wife and son, to start giving progressive Alaskans and centrists, and people who don’t want a convicted felon representing them in our nation’s capitol, a voice. If he’s wise, and smart, he will take the Ted Stevens debacle as a cautionary tale. If he plays his cards right, he could be there for a long long time, but the Republican party will have him in their sights, and be watching for every little slip-up.

If the Democrats in the Senate are wise and smart, they’ll be really nice to Senator Begich and give him a couple nice feathers in his cap to wear home to Alaska. They know the kind of bombastic, blow hards Alaska is capable of sending to the capitol, and they probably don’t want it to happen again. And they sure don’t want Sarah Palin gunning for an open senate seat in 6 years. Mark Begich will be like salve on a wound for many who have had to endure Ted Stevens for decades.

Who will fill Mayor Begich’s seat after he leaves? Anchorage Assembly Chair Matt Claman. Matt just took over the chairmanship of the Assembly when a surprise progressive majority took over the paralyzingly conservative Anchorage Assembly that had previously been populated by junior versions of the aforementioned bombastic, blow hards. When the Assembly shifted to the left, Claman was chosen. I know Matt Claman and he’s a good guy. He lacks the extroversion and charisma of Begich, but his principles are sound, and he’s a concensus builder, and a rational thinker. He’ll probably do a pretty good job. He’ll be there until April, when the mayoral elections happen. He may decide to run for the position officially at that time. There are several others who have thrown their hat in the ring too. And this may cause some interesting wrangling, since one of those candidates is Assembly Vice Chair Sheila Selkregg. Today’s Anchorage Daily News has an interesting article on these behind the scenes goings on.

Sarah Palin – Well, God sent a message to Sarah. She said if God opened a door, even a crack, she’d “plow through it”. But tonight, when Begich won a clear victory, and the four decade era of Ted Stevens ended, the door firmly shut tight. She will undoubtedly be looking for another door. The three that may open up next are:

  • The Don Young Door – Congressman Don Young will be up for re-election in 2010, but may be out before then. He’s already spend a whopping 1.2 million dollars on legal fees in anticipation of his own coming indictment. Alaskans have been waiting for that shoe to drop for a while now….and it’s coming. It’s just a question of when. Look for headlines coming soon to a paper near you, now that Alaska politics has wormed its way into the national consciousness. But even if Young survives this, his 19th term in Congress, I don’t think Sarah Palin is gunning for his job. I just don’t think Congress is her style.
  • The Lisa Murkowski Door – Now we’re talking. Sarah unseated Lisa’s father Frank Murkowski when she became governor in 2006. This would be the second Murkowski trophy head on her wall. Murkowski hasn’t done a bad job in most Republican’s minds, but she hasn’t knocked their socks off either. It’s not a sure thing by any means that she’d be able to hold her seat against Palin. And the Senate, as we have just witnessed, can be an effective stepping stone to the Presidency, which is what Palin is gunning for in the long run. That’s the door she thinks God will open for her – the big fat door to the Oval Office. She’s “wired for the mission” and would be ready to run in 2012, or 2016.
  • The Direct Door to the Presidency – If Palin can hold on to office for another term, she may be banking on her national celebrity, and name recognition, and her Christian conservative buddies in high places to take her from the governorship to Pennsylvania Avenue…or so she hopes. She’s up for re-election in 2010. And who knows…she may feel fully qualified by that point to throw her hat in the ring anyway.

And what about Ted Stevens, and his suddenly awkward and very visible namesake – The Ted Stevens International Airport. Before we break out the chisels and hammers, the Anchorage Assembly and the Public Facilities Advisory Commission, and who knows who else, will have to do some political soul searching, and have lots of meetings.

Stevens’ legal appeal process moves forward, and he’ll fight tooth and nail, like he always does. And amazingly, he is still eligible, despite his seven felony convictions, for his senate pension of $122,000 a year, courtesy of taxpayers. Although there is a recently-passed federal law that prohibits felons from collecting on these pensions, Stevens’ particular felonies were not on the list, and they were committed before the law went into effect. Maybe next time.





Latest Alaskan Numbers and Palin’s Potential Senate Run.

12 11 2008

So, IF Ted Stevens gets re-elected, and IF he gets expelled from the senate, we will have a special election to fill the seat.  Any takers?

In an interview today with Wolf Blitzer (I wonder if she had an urge to shoot him from a helicopter?) Sarah Palin said that she feels as though she has a “contract with Alaskans” to continue to serve as governor, but didn’t completely rule out a run for the U.S. Senate if there was an opportunity to do so.

Palin said, speaking of Alaska voters,  “if they call an audible on me, and if they say they want me in another position, I’m going to do it. … My life is in God’s hands. If he’s got doors open for me, that I believe are in our state’s best interest, the nation’s best interest, I’m going to go through those doors.”

She also said she would not appoint herself or a member of her family to the vacant senate seat….which is nice, because that would be illegal.  (bangs head on desk)

So obviously a lot hangs in the balance in this Senate race – not only another potential Democrat in the Senate, but whether Sarah Palin will gain a foothold in Washington.  The first batch of uncounted ballots will be finished tonight.  The official count from the Division of Elections has Democrat Mark Begich leading ConvicTed Stevens by THREE votes.  There are about 10,000 ballots scheduled to be counted today, and nobody is going home until it’s done.  There are about 35,000 more ballots to be counted in the next week. 

Ethan Berkowitz has made up a little ground on Republican incumbent Don Young but still trails by 15,710. 






Election Update from Rep. Les Gara

9 11 2008

It’s been a delightfully slow news day here on the Mudflats. It’s cold and grey, and at 5:00 Alaska time, the pale orange sun has set over Cook Inlet. So it was nice, on this quiet, lazy day, to get a message from one of our favorite Mudflatters, and one we haven’t heard from in a while, Representative Les Gara. No gripping press releases or dragon slaying this time….just a nice election update.

*****************************

I thought I’d offer you the kind of election analysis you just can’t buy.  Mostly because it’s not worth that much. 

The Mark Begich-Ted Stevens race remains too close to call, and word is we might have some new numbers soon.  My good friend Ethan Berkowitz (we’ve been friends from long before either of us stumbled into politics) has an outside chance of closing his gap against Congressman Don Young, but the gap in that race is pretty substantial right now.  And we have a roughly half dozen State House and Senate races with less than 200 vote differences that could change too.

Also – Friday the State Senate organized a bi-partisan coalition across party lines (applause); but the House Republicans have so far declined offers to do the same (no applause).  We’re still working on them, but right now it’s a 22 Republican, 18 Democrat, with 5 House races still to be decided.  I think the news story that the Republicans have closed the door on a bi-partisan coalition was as premature as the decision by the Republican leadership was unwise.  We’ll see if the newspaper got this one wrong.  At least they should have done a little investigation before simply repeating the press release they received from Republican House members yesterday.  Don’t get me started on the state of our newspapers – where staff has been cut so much that “he said she said” stories, and stories that just take politician statements at face value, have become too common.  Anyway – many of my colleagues and I are still promoting a bi-partisan coalition in the House.  It’s an uphill, but worthy effort.

Closest to home – I need to announce that I beat no one. Don’t worry (or celebrate, depending on your views). I didn’t lose. It’s just that no one ran against me (I did have an opponent in the August Primary). The good news – or at least what I’ve emphasized for my mother – is that I got something like 95% of the vote. The bad news is that 5% either didn’t feel like filling out their ovals, or decided, um… Maybe it’s better if I don’t think about that.





Vote Count in Alaska – Volunteer Opportunity!

9 11 2008

For all Alaskan Mudflatters, here is an opportunity to participate in the final vote count. No, our election is not over yet, and all the early votes that came in between October 31 and November 3, plus a steady stream of absentee ballots being received by mail, and “question” ballots still need to be counted.

Vote monitors are needed to help in Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, Nome, and Anchorage.

If you can offer some time to help with this effort, please contact one of the following:

Mark Begich campaign: info@begich.com or featherlybean@gmail.com

Alaska Democratic office: info@alaskademocrats.org

Ethan Berkowitz campaign: info@ethanberkowitz.com

Thanks for considering one last way you can participate and help every vote be counted in this historic election!

UPDATE: Looks like this effort is fully staffed! Thanks to all who stepped up!  **The Begich campaign is looking for a list of backup help should the need arise, so feel free to contact them.**





More on Alaska’s ‘Puzzling’ Election Results.

8 11 2008

The Anchorage Daily News has now gotten on the bandwagon casting a critical eye on Alaska’s “puzzling” voter turnout.

Did a huge chunk of Alaska voters really stay home for what was likely the most exciting election in a generation?

That’s what turnout numbers are suggesting, though absentee ballots are still arriving in the mail and, if coming from overseas, have until Nov. 19 to straggle in.

The reported turnout has prompted commentary in the progressive blogosphere questioning the validity of the results. And Anchorage pollster Ivan Moore, who usually works with Democrats, said Friday that “something smells fishy,” though he said it was premature to suggest that the conduct of the election itself was suspect.

With 81,000 uncounted absentee and questioned ballots, some of which will be disqualified, the total vote cast so far is 305,281 — 8,311 fewer than the last presidential election of 2004, which saw the largest turnout in Alaska history. That was the election where Alaska’s selection of George Bush for a second term was a foregone conclusion, though there was an unusually hot Senate race between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and former Gov. Tony Knowles.

Four years later, the lead-in for the 2008 election was extraordinary:

• Unheard of participation in the Democratic caucuses and strong Republican interest in theirs as well.

• A huge registration drive by Democrats and supporters of Barack Obama that enrolled thousands of first-time voters.

• Obama’s historic candidacy.

• Gov. Sarah Palin’s unprecedented bid for vice president as an Alaskan and a woman.

• A race in which Republican Ted Stevens, a 40-year Senate veteran, was facing voters as a recent convicted felon against Anchorage’s popular mayor, Mark Begich, a Democrat.

• A Congressional race in which Republican Don Young, in office almost as long as Stevens, was seeking re-election after a year in which he spent more than $1 million in legal fees defending against an FBI investigation of corruption involving the oil-field services company Veco Corp. Young’s opponent, Democrat Ethan Berkowitz, had been filmed on the state House floor in 2006 demanding an end to Veco’s corrupt practices weeks before the FBI investigation became known. The news clip played over and over as legislators and then Stevens were indicted and convicted, boosting Berkowitz’s status.

 

 

The full article, including reactions from pollsters, the Democratic and Republican parties, the Division of Elections, and progressive blogger, Shannyn Moore.

The fact that this is on the radar of all those mentioned above is a very good thing.  After the last eight years, it’s become more and more difficult for those ‘puzzling’ election anomalies to slip under the radar.  Mark Begich himself set up a legal team to monitor the vote counting to make sure every vote is counted.

So on it goes.  The election in Alaska is not over yet.

 

 





Crunching the Numbers in Alaska.

6 11 2008

OK…

I’m not generally a conspiracy theorist. I say “generally”, because sometimes conspiracies happen. And sometimes it would be foolish to ignore them. The only thing worse than being labeled a conspiracy theorist, is being labeled a gullible idiot when it all comes to light. So I invite you to hop on board the Conspiracy Theory Express with me for a moment, because it’s pulling out of the station here in Alaska, ready to take you on a five minute tour.

As the final numbers roll in from state and national elections, I and others have noticed some results that are interesting at best, and highly suspect at worst. Either way, they deserve some scrutiny.

Let’s look at the national numbers first. Keep in mind that Alaska’s very own Governor, and the new GOP golden girl, Sarah Palin, was on the ticket. And Barack Obama has excited progressive Alaskans like no candidate before. He had five field offices, great ground organization, and inspired the biggest candidate rally in Alaska history. Voter turnout here was expected to be through the roof and breaking all records.

In 2004, 66% of registered voters turned out to vote in the presidential election between George Bush and John Kerry.

In 2008, including the votes still outstanding, only 54% of registered voters turned out.

And the strangest part of all? Voter turnout in the primaries, before Palin was even on the ticket, was up 12% from 2004. We also had more than 20,000 new registered voters.

Curious.

As these strange numbers rolled in at Election Central, I was there watching. Here’s how it fell out over time.

With 36% of the precincts reporting:
61.76% for McCain
35.64% for Obama

With 81.3% reporting
61.54% for McCain
35.69% for Obama

With 96.1% reporting
61.29% for McCain
35.96% for Obama

Alaska, like many states, has blue areas and red areas. The Mat-Su Valley, home of Sarah Palin is very very red. Anchorage? Blue. The Kenai Peninsula? Red. Juneau? Blue. You get the idea. When I, and my fellow progressive celebrants watched the first numbers come in, we thought, “That must be the Valley”, because the latest polls actually had the presidential race neck and neck with Obama only 2.7 points behind. We kept waiting for the progressive areas of the state to kick in, but they never did. No fluctuations one way or the other more than .3%. And George Bush won the 2004 election her by a margin of…..61-35.

Strange.

Then, we’ve got the two Congressional races.

Ted Stevens vs. Mark Begich. The convicted felon is currently ahead by about 3300 votes, with about 60,000 absentee and early votes left to count. It’s a squeaker, and Begich may pull this one off. By why is it a squeaker when the last poll had Begich 22 points ahead? He’d been running at a dead heat in the polling before Ted’s conviction, but after the seven felony convictions came in, Begich’s lead widened considerably. Pretty stunning turnaround for Stevens.

Remarkable.

How about Ethan Berkowitz vs. Don Young for the Congressional seat?

Berkowitz consistently led Young in every single poll since May by 5-14 points. Contrary to this comfortable and consistent lead, Don Young managed to pull off a stunning upset by trouncing Berkowitz by more than 7 points.

Amazing.

And since history is always our best teacher, let’s look back at the 2004 elections in Alaska. The majority of precincts had voter turnout of over 100%. In some cases, voter turnout was over 200%. Either Alaskans are enthusiastic about their vote to the point of breaking the law and voting twice, or there’s something very very wrong.

(From Shannyn Moore) There are 40 districts in Alaska. The Anchorage area districts run from District 17 to District 32. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and pick any district from 17-32. Pay particular attention to the 3rd column labeled % turnout. Hit the back arrow and select another district. There are more precincts with voter turnout over 100% than under 100%. In other words, many more people voted in Anchorage area precincts than there were registered voters. Clearly, this is not possible. In 2006, the Democrats filed a lawsuit against the Alaska Division of Elections to release public records needed to verify the 2004 election results. The Democrats ALSO sought to have the Alaska Division of Elections release the raw election data for the 2006 election.

It’s been more than 24 hours since the polls closed in Alaska, and the red flags are already waving.

OK, the Conspiracy Theory Express bus 5-minute tour is over, and you may now hop off. This was just a test drive. Keep your eyes on how the final numbers turn out. Democracy requires vigilance, and hopefully our state candidates will not be afraid to stand their ground. The Obama campaign had a team of lawyers at the ready in case election fraud was detected. It’s a wise precaution, and an obligation to the electorate whose fundamental rights hang in the balance. If I were Ethan Berkowitz or Mark Begich or Barack Obama, I’d make sure I took the process to the end, and took advantage of the media spotlight which still shines on our state, before it vanishes, and we are left to sort out our election questions in the dark. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

UPDATE – Here’s some new coverage on this topic from The Washington Post and from 538.com.

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Race Tightening in Alaska!?!

3 11 2008

Go ahead and rub your eyes, and look at that graph again. You saw it right. Less than 3 points separating the candidates in Alaska, as of yesterday. These are the latest numbers released by Alaska’s Hays Research Group. With Obama-Biden nipping at the heels of McCain-Palin, can we be considered a battleground state again?

In Alaska, it’s not unreasonable to expect an “enthusiasm factor” to come into play. Imagine you are an Alaska Republican. (Don’t worry, this won’t last long). Imagine that Senior Senator and Republican icon Ted Stevens just got hit with seven felony convictions and his numbers have slid off a cliff. Then imagine that your lone Congressman Don Young, another Republican icon, has spent $1.2 million of his campaign money on legal fees, and his indictment is coming as sure as the seasons change and the sun rises. His rival, Democrat Ethan Berkowitz, has a comfortable lead. Then imagine that your presidential ticket, McCain-Palin is sending out spokespeople saying that they’re still sort of in the race if they win (insert long list of states, and statistical improbabilities here) AND mange to pull it off in (another long list of states and statistical improbabilities). Then add the fact that you’ll have to go stand in line with a bunch of happy, optimistic Democrats, and you may decide to just sit this one out. Too depressing. And you may have the makings for a single digit race in Alaska.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if Obama loses in Alaska by single digits, it is a LANDSLIDE victory. Remember that. And if he actually wins? You’ll hear the cheering from the Lower 48 (AND Hawaii)!

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Signs of the Times in Anchorage. Open Season on Idiocy.

1 11 2008

I had to run an unexpected errand in South Anchorage today. My travels took me to “the Hillside” to one of Anchorage’s more lucrative zip codes. This is the area with the big houses that overlook the Anchorage skyline and Cook Inlet, where you expect to find many traditional Republican voters, and oil industry executives. I decided I was going to keep a tally of yard signs and see what I ended up with. I was quite surprised. Here’s the breakdown, with Democrats on the left and Republicans on the right.

Obama 4 – McCain  0
Begich 18 – Stevens  0 (Senate race)
Berkowitz  8 – Young  0 (House race)
Kenny 17 – Hawker  15 (Local House race)

The latest numbers now show Mark Begich with a 20 point lead over convicted felon Ted Stevens in the Senate race. Ethan Berkowitz is 9 points up in the House race over Don Young. And from the looks of it, the local Democrat might even stand a chance in this Anchorage red zone. My faith is restored.

The bad news in the sign department is that an Obama-Biden sign that got stolen and replaced down the street from me, is gone again. But my own sign, is still sticking proudly in its snowbank.

And remember a while ago, when I found signs hung up over the highway that said, “Obama 4 Change 2 Islamic Law -N- USA”? Well, the perpetrator obviously has nothing but time on his hands, because they’ve started popping up all over town. In actuality this tortured soul with the spray paint, the stencils, and the disregard for the English language has provided a new sport for my spouse.

Today's Haul.

Today's haul.

Spouse has started a collection, and everytime a sign is seen, the brakes screech, the exacto knife comes out of the glove compartment, and the sign ends up in my trunk. I think that Spouse secretly likes this activity. In any case, we  added three new signs to the collection today, which brings the total up to 8.

This time there was a new development….the name of a website was written on one of the signs. Since it was written in small letters, it’s doubtful that our sign maker intended it to be seen by the passing traffic. It was meant…..for US, the sign taker-downers.

Something looked fishy about the website address…. http://www.obessionthemovie.com. Obession? I tried it. No movie. It was as I suspected. I tried obSessionthemovie.com. Paydirt! Obsession – Radical Islam’s War Against the West. The trailer has collapsing towers, crowds chanting “Death to America”, and Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest of the Fox crowd saying that “every single American should see this movie.”

So keep an eye out Anchorage and Eagle River area residents! It’s open season on illegally displayed, badly written, factually incorrect political signs with spelling mistakes! And you don’t even need a hunting license!

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The Veco Corruption Scandal. Who’s Next?

31 10 2008

New information and new names have surfaced in the Veco corruption scandal, that has been rocking Alaska’s political world for the past two years.  Bill Allen, former CEO of Veco Corp. made a deal to trade all the dirt in exchange for immunity for his son Mark, and others relatives involved in the scandal.  He had lots to tell.  Former lawmakers are in prison, and more are on the way.  The biggest fish ensnared in the net so far, of course, has been Senior Senator Ted Stevens, now convicted on seven felony counts.  But the FBI isn’t finished yet.

Newly filed court documents outline the extent of Allen’s initial revelations to the FBI, including his interactions with public figures that haven’t previously been reported — and who haven’t been charged.

In his first interview, the same day he learned of the investigation, Allen told the FBI about financial favors sought by and given to politicians.

Land deals were made, lawyers were hired, gas tanks were filled, floors were refinished, cash exchanged hands, pigs were roasted.

The new documents — summaries of Allen’s initial interview with the FBI and a subsequent interview — were filed earlier this month during the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in Washington, D.C. The summaries were attached to motions filed by Stevens’ lawyers. The summaries recount what Allen told investigators, and make no attempt to verify his assertions.

The first interview occurred on Aug. 30, 2006, after agents brought Allen into FBI headquarters in downtown Anchorage and he agreed to cooperate. The broad, multi-faceted investigation into Alaska corruption wouldn’t become public knowledge until the next day, when federal agents swarmed legislative offices with search warrants. The FBI had been monitoring Allen’s phone calls for months.

Allen pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy in May 2007.

One of the conclusions reached by Allen, was that Rep. Don Young, who is currently running for re-election against Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz, “couldn’t be bought.”  Interesting, considering that after the investigation of Allen began, Young tried to reimburse Allen for more than $37,000 in pig roast expenses for Youn’s annual fundraiser.  Yes, folks, the King of Pork had an annual pig roast fundraiser, paid for by an oil service company.  Perhaps they should have hired a skywriter to surmount the event with the words “INVESTIGATE ME!”   When Allen didn’t cash this belated reimbursement check, Young sent it directly to the U.S. Treasury.  Then he got out a “wet wipe” and tried to get all that pig money off his hands.

Don Young has spent well over a million dollars in campaign money on legal fees….and he hasn’t even been indicted yet.

The other notable name mentioned in the new paperwork is Ben Stevens, son of Ted Stevens.  I remember breaking the news to a couple people when Ted Stevens was indicted.  The response from each person was, “Wait….TED Stevens or BEN Stevens??”  Everybody was expecting Ben would be first.  There’s a lot to cover with Ben, but these documents talk about the fact that Ben was getting paid for a lucrative “consulting” position, even when he wasn’t “consulting.”

Bill Allen told Ben Stevens (president of the State Senate at the time), when he needed money, to bill Veco $10,000 a month.  Stevens stopped sending invoices after his Senate offices were raided.  Go figure.

Think of all this as “scenes from next week” in the never-ending saga of Alaska political corruption.

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Senatorial and House Debate in Anchorage

9 10 2008

It’s been a busy news week in Alaska, and I’ve yet to have time to write about this week’s Senatorial and House debates!

As we know, Ted Stevens is…otherwise occupied this week, so his debate with Mark Begich had to be filmed and shown to the crowd assembled at the University of Alaska, on screen.  The moderator was John Tracy.

I arrived a bit late, and missed the very beginning of the Begich/Stevens debate.  As I walked in the door, Ted Stevens was speaking.  I came in, walked down the aisle, looked around, found a seat, took off my coat, got out my camera, found my notepad, then had to hunt for a pen, opened the notepad, uncapped the pen, and he was still speaking….the same sentence.  All I could write on the pad was “longest run-on sentence ever uttered.”  Taking notes was to prove almost impossible.  Ted Stevens has a similar affliction as Sarah Palin.  Charlie Gibson has finally given it a name.  It’s the “Blizzard of Words” phenomenon.

All I can say is this, which I’ve plucked out of Ted’s blizzard of words.  According to Stevens: our country has absolutely no hope for the future without drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  We also need to drill offshore on the Continental Shelf.  And we need to find a way to decrease fuel costs.  We can create 20,000 jobs for every million barrels of oil we drill.  “You can’t get there (energy independence) without ANWR!” 

What is our biggest problem?  “Extreme environmentalists”  “Jimmy Carter”  and don’t forget “They opposed cutting timber too!” (uttered with horror).  His dreams for the future?  Keep kids in school. Give them hope. Drill everywhere, and “open the forests”.

When given the opportunity to ask a question of his opponent, Mark Begich, he wanted to know how he would convince those “New York California” politicians to drill drill drill!  Begich who is in favor of drilling (all Alaska politicians are), said he’d bring them up here to show them how it could be done in an environmentally conscious way. 

Begich, for his part, did very well.  He spoke in complete English sentences which could by understood by the audience.  He discussed his issues clearly and concisely.  He mentioned his website.  He did have on a little too much blush, but that wasn’t his fault.  He even held it together well when Ted Stevens told him he was “just as crazy as the devil.”

Begich got several rounds of applause during the debate.  Stevens did too, but they were more tentative…almost like the audience didn’t quite understand what he said, but they were trying to be kind.

Then we were on to 18 term Republican incumbend Don Young vs. Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz.

The questions started with the economy.  Don Young said he opposed the bail-out and had received 3800 phone calls about it.  3500 opposing, and 300 for.  He voted against.  The bail-out, he said, was a “slippery slope to socialism.”

Ethan Berkowitz said he would have been a “reluctant supporter” and stated concerns about the credit crunch affecting businesses.

Here’s the World According to Young:   All our financial woes started with Bill Clinton.  Alexander Hamilton put down the Whiskey Rebellion, and [Young] doesn’t know why he did…hahaha.  (???)  He wants to privatize social security to “let the young people invest.”  He shushed applause for Berkowitz.  He reprimanded the red warning light.  He doesn’t like Hillary Clinton.  Something else is Bill Clinton’s fault.  Most of the problems in the house are the fault of Nancy Paloosi (yes, that’s how he pronounces it).  The housing crisis was set off by energy issues because we’re not drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “Nancy Paloosi has a huge hammer and doesn’t want to burn fossil fuels because she wants to (eye roll) save the planet.”

He thinks Sarah Palin is a great candidate and it doesn’t bother him that she hasn’t endorsed him.  He doesn’t need anybody’s endorsement.  He’s “not going to do cartwheels” to get anyone’s endorsement.

He “look[s] forward to sending his first batch of earmarks to John McCain, and I dare him to veto it.”  Young loves earmarks and thinks that any member of congress who isn’t out to get lots of earmarks isn’t doing his/her job.

His question to Ethan Berkowitz?  How would you face up to Nancy Paloosi [sic] regarding energy issues and drilling?   Berkowitz responded that energy issues shouldn’t be partisan and that he would be an Alaskan congressman and represent the issues of Alaska.  Don didn’t like that answer.  “That’s just words!  You would have voted with her!”  Then looking at the audience, “He will do what she says to do!”

Hoooo.  Don Young has some major hangups with “Paloosi”.

Berkowitz was good the rest of the time.  He spoke up about alternative energy, no child left behind, hope and optimism.  When asked if he supported Palin, he responded he was supporting “Barack Obama and Tina Fey” which left out some of the AARP crowd who was hosting the debate.  He did get sporadic applause, but there was a noticeable lack of any kind of applause for Don Young.

Whichever political leanings the audience had, nobody was unsure of where the candidates stood, and no one left wondering which way to vote.