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. 






Waiting for the Numbers in Alaska…

12 11 2008

There are 90,000+ ballots to be counted, and more coming in every day.

Absentee ballots: 60,950 (postmarked by midnight on 11/4)
Early voting ballots: 9,507
Question (provisional) ballots: 20,178 (voters who voted outside their proper district)

Grand Total: 90,635+  (with more arriving every day)

Today the state will count 42,991 of the absentee ballots and 9,333 of the early votes.  The rest will come later, hopefully by Friday.  But no promises.

The districts that will not be counted today seem to be favoring Begich.

District  Begich  Stevens   Margin
2
          54.2    40.9     +13.3
5          55.7    38.0     +17.7
6          47.8    46.3      +1.5
36         53.2    41.7     +11.5
37         50.0    45.9      +4.1
38         65.3    30.6     +34.7
39         58.3    38.1     +20.2
40         58.8    37.7     +21.1

So even if Begich does not overtake Stevens in the vote count today, those remaining districts still leave hope.  An automatic recount is only triggered if the votes are exactly the same.  However, candidates, or a group of 10 citizens can petition for a recount if the votes are within one half of one percentage point of each other.

And, of course, we’ll be looking to see if the House race, or local races take any significant changes.  Two wonderful local Democrats, Pete Petersen and Chris Tuck are both ahead but by a very slim margin.

It’s 2:00 in Alaska, and still no numbers coming in.  We weren’t sure if the numbers would come in one lump sum at the end of the day, or if they would release results throughout the day.  I’m guessing if we haven’t seen anything by now, we’ll get the final daily tally this evening.

(stares at clock)

(h/t to Daily Kos for the number crunching)

UPDATE:  Ted Stevens lead has now shrunk from 3300 to 971!  Tuck and Petersen are holding their own.  More to come.

UPDATE 2:  Begich is up by 3 votes!!!





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.**





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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Alaska Lt. Governor Sean Parnell Concedes!

18 09 2008

Alaska Democratic Congressional Candidate Ethan Berkowitz

Lt. Governor Sean Parnell will not seek a recount in the Republican primary for Alaska’s lone seat in the House of Representatives. He conceded to 18-term incumbent Don Young, who is currently under investigation and has spent more than $1 million in legal fees, before he has even been indicted. Young squeaked out a narrow victory with a final vote tally of only 304 more votes than Parnell.

Parnell, who had indicated he would seek a recount, has apparently had a change of heart. He may be banking on a McCain-Palin victory, which would put him snugly in the governor’s chair with a direct line to the White House. At this point, it’s not a bet I would take, but I’m not him.

The concession still strikes me as odd, since the margin of victory was slim enough that the state of Alaska would have picked up the costs of a recount. Maybe he worried that a recount and second loss would sully his image. Palin and Parnell are all about image.

Democrats will sleep a little easier tonight knowing that Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz will be the one to face Don Young in November. Parnell would have been a tougher competitor. I can practically hear the champagne corks popping at Berkowitz headquarters.

Despite the much larger Republican turnout at the primaries, many of Parnell’s votes were “anyone but Don Young” votes from Republicans, Independents, and Non-Partisans. Many will either not vote at all, or vote for Berkowitz, simply because the 18-term corrupt, bombastic, blowhard that is Don Young is no longer tolerable.

There were also many Republican ballots selected by Independents, and Non-Partisans who lean Democratic, but voted for Young in a strategic move to keep him in the race so Berkowitz can bring him down like a bag of dirt. In Alaska, Independents and Non-Partisans can choose either the Republican or Democratic ballot. That’s why there are so many of them. Ahhhh…strategery.

Frankly, it’s also going to be a lot more fun to cover a Young-Berkowitz matchup for local media and bloggers.

So join me in a toast (or a donation) to Ethan Berkowitz! >tink< It’s not going to be a cake walk, but he stands a chance of ending an era of corruption in Alaska’s congressional delegation. I’ll bet there are plenty in Washington D.C. popping their own corks right about now.





Operation Chaos a Success! Don Young Wins by a Nose!

17 09 2008
Lt. Governor Sean 'Caribou Ken' Parnell
Lt. Gov. Sean “Caribou Ken” Parnell (left) and Don Young with his favorite objet d’art….Don Young.

Operation Chaos, it seems, may have been a diabolical success.  You’ll all recall when Rush Limbaugh urged all his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton in states with open primaries.  The theory was that she’d be easier to defeat than Barack Obama.  It’s debatable whether his tactic had any effect locally, but it obviously didn’t work on a national level.

In Alaska, on the other hand, things may have turned out differently.  It was no secret in the polling, that Democratic candidate Ethan Berkowitz was much more likely to defeat long-term but desperately corrupt incumbent Don Young, than Republican newcomer (and some would say Palin-bot) rival Lt. Governor Sean Parnell.

So, devious Independants and Non-partisans (who make up well over 50% of the voters in Alaska), chose the Republican ballot and voted for Young in a desperate attempt to swing the general election in favor of a viable Democratic candidate.  How do I know this?  Because, just in general chit-chatty conversation, I personally came across FIVE people who did it.  I didn’t ask. It was almost like people needed to make this guilty, yet gleeful confession.  Did one of my earliest posts help plant the idea?  Probably not. Not many people read it.  But the idea obviously sprang up indepentently in the minds of those hungry to get the old-guard corrupt politicians out of office.

Weeks after Alaska’s primary, the absentee ballots now counted, Don Young can claim victory by the razor-thin margin of 304 votes.  I know five of the voters by name, and I’m guessing that Alaskans like them have put him over the top.  Alaska politics makes strange bedfellows.

Parnell  will probably call for a recount, so keep those champagne bottles corked for now.  The recount could take another 10 days.  But, things may be looking up in one branch of Alaska politics.





And Now for Something Completely Different.

6 09 2008

Yes, there is life beyond Palin. It may seem hard to believe, especially here in Alaska, where the media is swarming on the small town of Wasilla like ravens on a dumpster full of french fries. (Trust me, it’s a good metaphor)

As everyone in the Lower 48 + Hawaii is finding out, the cast of characters in Alaskan politics is full of…well…characters:

Walt Monegan, the noble Police commissioner who said, “I’d gladly die for the governor, but I would never lie for the governor”

Chuck Kopp his non-vetted replacement who famously proclaimed, “I am not a sex harasser!”

Mike Wooten, the trooper in Troopergate who has a list of offensive deeds, but was axed by whom Palin wanted to axe for what many feel is personal revenge.

Stephen Branchflower, the rock solid non-partisan investigator, and Thomas Van Flein, his nemesis and the private attorney now representing Palin. Palin’s new private attorney.

And the whole supporting cast of children, children’s boyfriends, extended family, ex-coworkers, the almost fired librarian saved by the outraged masses at the last minute*, the fired police chief, and of course, Palin herself – the lip-sticked pit bull moose-skinning gun-toting mother of 5 (or 4 say some), who either rose like a star, or flimflammed her way to the top…depending who you ask.

But, yes, there is a whole political landscape outside the governor’s little world. There is big news developing with two of those characters who haven’t been discussed much lately – Don Young, and Sean Parnell.

Don Young. That’s him up there standing in front of the giant portrait of himself, wearing an Alaska state flag bolo tie. When people who don’t know about Don Young ask about Don Young, they are met with one of three reactions: the eye roll, the head shake/chuckle combination, or an expletive. It never fails. He is absolutely indescribable, but I’ll try. He is a cocky, loud mouthed, angst-ridden, bloviating, jaw-dropping bully. He looooves pork, and people that love pork, love him. He’s a porketarian of the highest order. His annual fundraiser is even a pig roast and he’s proud of it. The grill at the event is usually a $30,000 barbeque donated for the event by Veco corp, the now defunct oil services company whose president and vp have plead guilty to felony counts of bribery and agreed to dish the dirt on what feels like half the Republican politicians in Alaska…and one Democrat just for the heck of it. Many are either on their way, or already in prison.

Don Young himself is currently under investigation by the FBI, and has spent more than a million dollars from his campaign fund on lawyers and hasn’t even been indicted yet. All of this does not keep Alaskans from voting for him. He’s been holding Alaska’s lone seat in the House of Representatives since 1973, and most Alaskans just look upon him as an inevitability, like snow. He just keeps coming back, no matter what you do. And besides, we’ll overlook a lot, as long as we get our pork.

The last time Don Young was up for reelection, the Democratic challenger (a woman, and Alaska native) Diane Benson got 40% of the vote. While this may not sound like much in other elections, 40% against Don Young with a progressive female candidate on the ballot was huge. This proved that Young was vulnerable. Smelling blood in the water, hoards of lower level politicians began circling the wounded bloviator.

This time around, he may go down. State legislator Ethan Berkowitz, a rising Democratic star, stand a very good chance of unseating him in the upcoming election. Progressive Alaskans are doing the happy dance all over the state. For them, it is a dream come true. But…there’s one more hurdle to overcome. The hurdle is named Sean Parnell. Sean Parnell is what many like to call a ‘Palin-bot’. He shares Palin’s idealogy, and is “supportive” of her administration. Translated, this means whatever she says goes, and he doesn’t argue. Critics say he’s an empty suit and an empty head. He also doesn’t like to show up at debates, or give interviews…too uncomfortable (sound familiar?). BUT, he has Sarah Palin’s ‘full support’, which is enough for many in the state.

Berkowitz doesn’t fare as well against Parnell in the polling, and it might be a tight race if that was the match-up in November. Parnell might very well swoop into office exactly like Palin, by getting the anyone-but-the-incumbent-as-long-as-I-can-still-vote-Republican vote. That’s a big slice of the pie up here.

I went down to Convention Central at the Egan Center in Anchorage on primary night, just to watch the returns. And, as many predicted, the race of the night turned out to be Young vs. Parnell. We all bit our nails, drank $8 beers at the bar in the corner, chomped peanuts and watched the big board. At times there were only four votes separating the two candidates. Progressives stopped doing the happy dance and started worrying. Many Democrats and independents I know voted for Young, simply to assure that he would stay in the race long enough to be taken down by Berkowitz. (The Alaskan version of Rush Limbaugh’s operation Chaos, urging Republicans to cross over and vote for Hillary). They will be happy they did. At the end of the night, only about 150 votes separated the two candidates, with Young holding a razor thin lead over Parnell, and hanging on by his fingernails.

Then the absentee voting began. There were 25,000 votes to be counted. The result? After more nail-biting ups and downs and the Division of Elections working into the night, Young maintains his lead by a scant 239 votes. With still more absentee ballots to be counted from overseas, this is about as close as it gets. The last of the absentee ballots will be rounded up by Wednesday, and it’s anyone’s guess. There will likely be a recount.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Division of Elections is under the purvue of none other than…the Lt. Governor, Sean Parnell? Oh, it’s true. Who said life beyond Palin would be boring?

Now that you’ve welcomed a new Alaskan eccentric into your political world, please sit back and enjoy this little homage to Don Young from TPM Muckraker who refers to Young as a “one man mud wrestling match”. Enjoy.

*correction from previous post





Alaska Primary Night at Election Central

27 08 2008

Well, it’s no Democratic National Convention, but it was quite a show tonight. I listened to Hillary Clinton’s pretty darned good speech, and then took off for the Egan Center and Election Central. While circling for a parking spot the only person outside was a Nader guy. Gotta give ’em credit for trying. They’re kind of like the Ron Paul people, only their candidate is smart enough not to endorse Don Young.

Half an hour and a glass of Chardonnay later, the fun began. Whoops and shrieking in the hallway were heard and Les Gara made the first ‘grand entrance’ of the evening.

Then, the big guns (and the big signs) arrived. Ethan Berkowitz came in with an impressive entourage, looking pumped up and ready for the interviews.

By this time the numbers were really starting to come in up on the big board. It was obvious that all the ballot initiatives would go down. For a minute I just felt like going home and putting a pillow over my head. Then I remembered the bartender told me there was Tequila. But I just sat and watched for a while, making really sure the numbers said what I thought they said. Clean Elections was the worst…oh, excuse me….I mean “Public Funding of Elections”…which is precisely why it went down. The wording was enough to do it. And for this we can thank Sean Parnell.

And speaking of Sean Parnell… at this point in the evening, there was a mere 4 vote split between Lt. Governor Parnell and Congressman Young. I’m starting to think that the mini operation chaos might have had some effect. As a matter of fact, I ran in to three non-partisans who voted for Young in the primary so he’d go down in the general election.

It had also become obvious that Diane Benson wasn’t going to be able to win her match-up with Ethan Berkowitz. But, as usual, the woman who first took on Don Young with a credible and spirited campaign, handled herself well and was surrounded by a group of die-hard supporters.

The Gabrielle LeDoux and Linda Menard groups had filtered in earlier, with little fanfare. LeDoux was instantly marginalized by the 45-45 Young/Parnell horse race.

Menard won her district handily. Erick Cordero, her Democratic opponent in the general election was there too. He’ll have a tough road.

Then the man of the evening arrived. Mark Begich swooped in, followed by a huge sea of supporters with signs. He wasn’t on a white horse, but he might as well have been. The camera crews were crawling all over themselves to get an unobstructed view. The energy was through the roof, and the Begich crew were all smiles, fist pumps and energy. No sooner had he entered than he was whisked away from one news crew to the next for interviews. The flock of supporters followed dutifully, chanting “Beg-ich Beg-ich Beg-ich!” and “Go Mark Go! Go Mark Go!”

Then the Ted Stevens crew arrived.

Ted was in and to the news crew before anyone hardly knew he was in the room. He had a steely gaze and walked like he was about to miss a bus. He had a large crowd, but not as large as the Begich bunch. As Ted began his first interview with Channel 2, the rowdy excited chants of Beg-ich Beg-ich practically drowned out the interview. His sign holder stood behind him holding up a campaign sign and clenching her jaw. She stared off in the direction of the chanting crowd just 20 feet away and looked like she wanted to break something.

After a few minutes of this, it dawned on the Stevens crowd that all this enemy chanting was not a good thing. Someone weakly started a “Go Ted Go!” and a few others joined in. Sign holder kept giving the thumbs up, directing the Stevens crowd to pick up the volume (see below), hoping they’d drown out the Begich crowd that was so loud that Stevens was obviously raising his voice to be heard. It was almost painful to watch. And, of course, he was less than pleased when questions about the indictment came up.

The Begich folks relentlessly tailed the current senator with signs, and some even chuckled at the double meaning of the growing chants of “Go Ted Go!” from the Stevens camp.

The nail-biter at the end of it all was the Young/Parnell race. Undecided last night, it’s still up for grabs this morning. Currently Young has regained his lead, and come up from a 700 vote deficit, to a narrow 140 vote lead with 9 precincts left to come. Neither candidate was at the Egan Center. Don Young is in Fort Yukon, and Sean Parnell was down the street at his campaign headquarters, but never made an appearance. More thoughts and photos to come…





Operation Chaos, Alaskan Style.

26 08 2008

Remember Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” where Republicans were instructed to switch over to the Democratic ballot in open primary states, and cast votes for Clinton? The idea was that Clinton would be easier to beat than Obama in the general election. Reports were mixed, but thousands of Republicans pulled the switcheroo just to stack the deck.

So, this morning, after voting, I asked my significant other, “So, who did you vote for?” I said this half-joking, knowing what the answer would be. Or so I thought. The answer came with a smile: “Don Young.”

I had to take the Democratic ballot, but my sneaky better half is a Non-partisan, chose the Republican ballot, and pulled the Progressive version of Operation Chaos. Recent polls show Ethan Berkowitz and Sean Parnell as a close match up. In the Don Young/Ethan Berkowitz match up, Young goes down like a bag of dirt.

I wonder how many others thought this through and did the same thing? A tip of the hat to you evil genius non-partisan Progressives out there. Go Don!!!

UPDATE:  It looks like those Operation Chaos folks may actually come into play in this race!  At Election Central the race has been neck & neck all night.  At one point only 4 votes separated the candidates.  It’s almost 2am Alaska time and right now Sean Parnell leads by less than 300 votes.  We’ll find out tomorrow.  I’ll post the results in the morning in addition to photos etc. from the evening’s festivities.





Alaska House Race Poll Numbers

10 08 2008

The latest poll numbers from Ivan Moore Research from 7/18-7/22/08

Don Young (46)

Sean Parnell (38 )

Gabrielle LeDoux (6)

I have a friend who refers to this race as:  The Crook, the Nitwit, and the Other One.

On the Democratic side, Ethan Berkowitz leads Diane Benson at this point 54-25.

So, assuming we have a Young vs. Berkowitz race:

Young (R) – 37

Berkowitz (D) – 52

Wow. Change is in the air.

Even though there were no results for a Benson vs. Young matchup, and even though we may never get to see it on the ballot again, I’d just love to know.  I think Diane would mop the floor with him, and I’d like all her supporters, and Don Young himself to see it in black & white.





Alaska Candidates on the Couch

21 07 2008

Just got back from the Alaska Women’s Political Caucus Debate for House candidates, aka the “Couch Conference”. In attendance – Diane Benson, Ethan Berkowitz and Don Young. Glaringly absent – Gabrielle LeDoux and Sean Parnell.

I arrived a little late, but walked in just in time to hear Don Young’s position on the Iraq War. Fumbling for a pen, I managed to scribble down “Fully supported ‘invasion of Saddam’ or we would be having a nuclear war with Iran and genocide the likes of which we have never seen.” Yeah, we know. And the smoking gun would have been a mushroom cloud. FYI Don, we actually invaded Iraq, not Saddam.

Most of the questions and answers went as you’d expect, and many were softballs. KTUU’s Megan Baldino was underwhelming as moderator and looked bewildered and unsure of the protocol and the questions most of the time.

And I confess, I kept hoping for one of those Don Young head-exploding moments that would end up on YouTube, but no such luck. There was lots of sighing, and puffing out of cheeks, eyerolling and muttering. A couple times you could hear him say ‘nonsense’ under his breath, and he did this really odd leg lift thing, over and over, while looking completely engrossed in his shoe. And he definitely turned every shade of purple while the Democrats talked about ethics, but that was about it. When it came time for Don to talk about ethics, here’s part of what he had to say:

“I will set on this bench…this couch…and hold my character. [Mudflats – OMG close your eyes!] Yes, there’s been a lot of writing in the paper. 18 months of writing….18 months….. But my ethics and my wife’s ethics…my family’s ethics should never be in question. You may think they should be, but they should not be.”

Oh reeeeeaalllly. And exactly WHY should they not be in question? Maybe we should ask the FBI.

Ethan Berkowitz did well, but answered a few questions in vague terms, including, “What can you do in congress for the state of Alaska?” He responded by talking about moving forward, looking forward, looking to the future, needing a congressman for the NEXT 36 years, not the past 36 years. But I wanted, and thought he was capable of giving a more substantive answer. Other than that, he was polished, energetic, and engaged. He specifically mentioned his support for Clean Elections (eyeroll from Don Young), which I was happy about.

Diane Benson was at the top of her game. She was witty, poised, and unintimidated. My favorite Benson moment followed Don Young’s proclamation that he is-was-and-always-will-be pro-life. She answered that she is pro-life too, which is why she doesn’t support the death penalty, and doesn’t think we should “go to war at the drop of a hat”, but that matters of a woman’s body are private, and between her and her doctor. Zzzing! Her only cringe-inducing moment was when in response to a question about how best to promote women’s issues and fair pay, she said, “Stop electing men.” This was met by a heckle from the back of the room that came from a young uber-Republican guy in a suit, sporting a giant LaDoux bumper sticker on his lapel, who called out in his best frat-boy voice, “Yeah…Vote for Gabrielle!” Benson’s comment may have been true, to a degree, but Berkowitz scored by saying that people should vote for a candidate because of their values, not their gender.

The most moronic question of the night? If you could make up a catchy one-line slogan to bring tourists to Alaska, what would it be? All three candidates looked at Megan Baldino and each other like, “Are you kidding?” Don Young even said, “Who makes up these questions?” No one had a good answer, and no one in the audience was surprised they didn’t.

Second-most irrelevant question, but one that surprisingly perked up the audience nonetheless – “What car(s) do you drive, and do you fly commercially or by private jet?” Just because I know you’re curious:

Ethan Berkowitz – 1993 Yukon. Toyota Prius. Commercial airlines, front of the plane, aisle seat. He quoted Bill Egan who said, “You get more votes in coach.”

Don Young – 2003 Cadillac. Saturn. Evaded the airline question.

Diane Benson – “Nothing beats 50mpg on my Harley” (the crowd approved). Honda Element. Dodge Dakota work truck. Also didn’t answer the airline question, but probably not for the same reason as Don Young.

There was another interesting Don Young moment during the break. While being serenaded with great piano music (the event was held in the Steinway Piano shop) he danced down the aisle holding an invisible partner with a giant goofy smile almost long enough for me to get it on tape….that would have been my YouTube moment! Oh well. He did seem to be in quite a chipper mood….perhaps he’s watching Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, his biggest Republican threat, who hitched his wagon to Sarah Palin’s rising star. That star is starting to fizzle, big time, and it’s only good news for Don Young in the primary. More on that later.

But basically, Young’s strategy was to remind us all that he’s been in congress for a long long long time, and that he can drop lots of names. His other strategy was to be a puffed-up, condescending bully. It’s worked for him in the past, so he keeps doing it. He never missed an opportunity to mention that the other two Republicans weren’t there, which was ironic since, in May, Young blew off a promised teleconference at the Hispanic Affairs Council forum (attended by all four other candidates) with a flimsy excuse. The condescension continued with weird comments to Ethan Berkowitz, either under his breath about Diane Benson, or out loud with things like, “Well, Ethan, that was a very nice campaign speech” after every question he answered. (Note to Ethan – Try using a strategically placed throw pillow as a buffer zone to keep Don out of your ‘bubble’ if you have to sit next to him again)

After the first round of questions, each candidate was given a paper bag with questions on little slips of paper in it, that they drew out of the bag and asked their opponents. Ethan Berkowitz’s last piece of paper slipped under the flap at the bottom of the bag and he couldn’t find it. So Don Young booms out, “And Ethan wants to be a congressman….He can’t even find what’s in the bottom of the bag! HAHAHAHAHAHA!” This was met by crickets and uncomfortable shuffling from most of the room, uproarious laughter from the frat boy corner, and cascades of giggles from the Steinway piano lady, who spent the rest of the evening fawning over him like a lovesick schoolgirl.

The evening wrapped up with a 2 minute closing statement from each candidate. Don Young reminded us that even though some people think he’s done badly, he hasn’t done badly. He revealed the horrifying fact that he wants to die in office – “God’s going to replace me some day. I only hope it’s not the voters.” Voters…lightning bolt….either way, he needs to be gone.

If either Democratic candidate gets the seat, Ethan Berkowitz will get his wish to “elevate the quality and tone of politics in this state.”





Palin’s Power Trip – Off With Their Heads!

17 07 2008

Is this it? I’ve been wondering what it will be that sinks the so-far unsinkable ship of Sarah Palin. So far, despite little chinks here and there in her teflon armor, Sarah the Magnificent has emerged fairly unscathed. Until now, perhaps.

There’s been all sorts of buzz and inuendo and rumor about the real reason Sarah Palin fired Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan. The administration’s official reason was that they wanted to “go in a new direction”. Alaska Public Safety in a new direction? Like….letting the criminals go free? Abandoning rural Alaska to fend for itself? Martial Law? Anyone who’s been paying attention has been pretty impressed with Walt Monagan’s integrity, work ethic and genuine commitment to the Troopers and the people of Alaska. New direction? We didn’t get it.

Palin buddy and brand-new Commissioner of Public Safety Chuck Kopp, (who replaces Monegan, the ‘chucked cop’) made a statement mumbling something about “looking forward to moving forward” and not commenting on prior leadership…which is code for “There’s a story here, and I’m not going to tell you what it is.” That usually means the story is worth knowing. Bloggers and other interested parties began pricking up their ears, and waiting for the inevitable leak.

Well, the leak turned out to be a tsunami in the form of a blog post from Andrew Halcro titled “Why Walt Monegan Got Fired: Palin’s Abuse of Power.” I strongly urge everyone to read it. Here’s the gist of what he claims.

Palin wanted Monagan to cut the budget for the State Troopers. Already underfunded and stretched to the breaking point, he said no. (gasp)

But the second, and far creepier reason, the one that surely will be setting the blogosphere on fire and accelerating her fall from the ivory tower if it is substantiated, is this. Let me preface this by saying that no…I’m not making this up. Stay with me. Sarah Palin’s younger sister Molly used to be married to Mike Wooten. Mike Wooten has been an Alaska State Trooper for the last 8 years. Molly and Mike went through a messy divorce. The Palins were not pleased. Halcro relates a truly bizarre series of events that can only be described as ‘stalking behavior’ committed by the Palin family against Trooper Wooten. Notes on windshields, threatening phone calls, Todd Palin (Sarah’s husband and Alaksa’s ‘First Dude’) taking pictures and sending them to Wooten’s supervisor. There were a total of 25 complaints filed against Wooten. Each time, an Administrative Investigator would review the complaint, find it unfounded or not substantiated, and dismiss it. The other side of the story is that Wooten is no angel…extramarital affair, dry tasering his step-son (he says at his step-son’s request),…..it goes on and on. Another Alaskan political bad movie.

Fast forward to 2008. Now, Sarah Palin is the Governor.

“Twice in the last few months complaints were filed by the governor’s office accusing Wooten of improperly using his patrol car. Both times he was visiting his kids at school and both times he had permission from his sargent. The last complaint came in May after Todd Palin saw Wooten pulling out of the school parking lot and six days later the complaint landed on Wooten’s supervisor’s desk.

During the legislative session this past spring, Palin reportedly told Commissioner Monegan to fire Wooten because he was giving Troopers a bad name. However Monegan said he would do no such thing.

A short time afterwards, it was discovered that confidential material in Wooten’s Administrative Investigation file had been released to his ex-wife and her attorney. This drew outrage from the Public Safety Union as well as the Commissioner. AI files are strictly confidential and can only be released with the written signature of the Trooper, but yet no one could explain how the detailed confidential information was released.

Reportedly, both Commissioner Monegan and Colonel Audie Halloway warned that if they found out the file was leaked by the governor’s office, they would pursue charges.

Unfortunately, Commissioner Walt Monegan has been fired and word on the street is Colonel Audie Halloway’s days are numbered as the new commissioner brings in those who won’t object when the governor uses the Troopers as her own private security force.”

You may now pick your chin up off the desk.

Where will this all go from here? Local mainstream media is picking up the story, as is the Associated Press. Will this little nugget be featured in the upcoming Wall Street Journal article on Palin? How about People Magazine? Is the image of the squeaky-clean, hockey mom who hands out cash forever sullied? Have her VP chances just gone up in a puff of smoke? Will she be thrown under the Straight Talk Express Bus?? One can only wait and speculate. In addition to Halcro, Celtic Diva is hot on the trail with a report from the latest press conference, as is Anchorage talk radio, including KUDO 1080am which should have plenty to say tomorrow.

Governor Palin herself has just released a statement. “critics have taken this to rediculous extremes”, “false allegations”, “outrageous” and my favorite, “It is unfortunate, as we seek to address a growing energy crisis in this state, that this matter has been raised now.” Yes, perhaps it would have been more polite to wait until we have a gas line to talk about why Monegan was fired? Nice try. You can read the governor’s entire statement HERE.

And to Ethan Berkowitz and Diane Benson, I say, lean back, enjoy the popcorn and see how Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell fares in his House race if Palin goes from Queen of Light, to millstone around the neck.

We live in interesing times.