So How Did the Alaskan Independence Party Do?

14 11 2008

OK, the official numbers are not in yet in Alaska, but we can feel fairly confident that no candidate from the Alaskan Independence Party is going to win a seat this year.  But how did they fare?  They certainly got a lot more press than usual this year…especially from outside of Alaska.

The AIP Presidential candidate vote total went from .67% in 2004 to .52% in 2008.  No real change.

But, the AIP Senatorial candidate went from 1.22% in 2004 to 4.14% in 2008.  Almost a threefold increase!  Did the AIP become all the rage because of the trendy secessionist tendencies of Todd Palin, Alaska’s First Dude and “former” AIPer?  Did AIP Senate candidate Bob Bird, just ride the Palin’s coattails?

Or maybe the increase is due to those Republicans that couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a convicted felon, but also couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a Democrat?

Or maybe it’s because Ron Paul (who fared better than John McCain in the primary up here) endorsed Bob Bird, the AIP’s Senate candidate.  Those Ron Paul fans are pretty loyal, and so this is a definite possibility. 

It’s interesting to note that the increase in AIP votes from 2004 to 2008 would more than make up the difference between the now trailing Ted Stevens, and his Democratic rival for the senate seat, Mark Begich. I suppose in a metaphorical way, you could say that Ron Paul may have given Ted Stevens the “Bird”.

The only other AIP candidate on the ticket this year was Dan DeNardo running in House District 31.  You may remember him from a little bedtime story on Mudflats last month.  Just a quick reminder if you don’t want to go back and read the whole thing…

Here’s his bio:

“I study the creation and impact of the Luciferian Marxist-Lenninist Dialectical Sovietism that is the most encompassing secular historical force controlling every incorporated political party; the world’s exchange systems based on perpetual indentured slavery through interest bearing irredeemable security obligations, i.e. federal reserve notes; Law Merchant advisory panels masquerading as “juries”; bar associations composed strictly of card-carrying Kommunist Komrade Kriminals acting in Alaska under the Alaska Supreme Soviet in conjunction with Soviet counterparts in NKVD through the Khabarovsk-Alaska Collectivization Project; and state sponsored Kriminal Globalism’s “perpetual War for perpetual peace.”

And this guy got 3%…..so all my theorizing about Bob Bird’s 4% may have just been blown out the window. Maybe it’s just Alaska.





Pulling the Chair Out from Under Joe Lieberman.

14 11 2008

One of the big perks of this election, after getting Obama elected, and after all those positive changes that lie in the days to come, was the ouster of Joe Lieberman. He undoubtedly holds the title of “Most Despised Democrat” in the Senate. His betrayal of his party, his slanderous comments about Barack Obama, and his contstant sucking up to John McCain and the Republicans had many Democrats seething, staring at the clock and waiting for the day they could strip him of his key committee chairmanship.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Lieberman made a donation this summer- a big FAT donation – to the DSCC to the tune of $100,000. This contribution came on top of last year’s donation of the same amount. Apparently Joe thinks that’s what the going rate is to buy friends. Behold the grown-up political version of “If I give you my lunch, can I sit with you?”

Insiders were saying that he was scrambling to keep his Chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which several Democrats who were actually loyal to their party, were champing at the bit to pull from him after the November election.

On top of this year’s $100,000, his PAC has donated an additional $30,000 since last year. Will this be enough to change the opinion of those who regard Lieberman as the Benedict-Arnold-turncoat-McCain-hugging-Judas-Escariot-war-monger of the Senate? Is $130,000 the cost of a chairmanship, or will the Democrats ‘pull the Chair out from under him’?

In addition, the Senate is perilously close to the coveted veto-proof, filibuster-proof Democratic majority that seemed like a dream until recently. With the races of Begich vs. Stevens, Franken vs. Coleman and Martin vs. Chambliss hanging in the air, things are uncertain.

A few Senators have come out in recent days calling for Lieberman’s removal – Senator Bernie Sanders, and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Patrick Leahy, both from Vermont. “I am one who does not feel that somebody should be rewarded with a major chairmanship after doing what he did,” Leahy said in a Vermont Public Radio interview on Friday.

Some of Lieberman’s attacks on Obama “went beyond the pale,” Leahy said. “I would feel that had I done something similar that I would not be chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress.”

“To reward Senator Lieberman with a major committee chairmanship would be a slap in the face of millions of Americans who worked tirelessly for Barack Obama and who want to see real change in our country,” said Sanders in the statement sent our way by his office.

“Appointing someone to a major post who led the opposition to everything we are fighting for is not ‘change we can believe in,'” Sanders continued. “I very much hope that Senator Lieberman stays in the Democratic caucus and is successful in regaining the confidence of those whom he has disappointed. This is not a time, however, in which he should be rewarded with a major committee chairmanship.”

The in-boxes of Democratic Senators across the nation are being filled to capacity as we speak. I don’t have a Democratic Senator…..yet. But if I did, I would be adding to the electronic pile of outrage in my Senator’s email account.

This will be voted on by the Senate NEXT WEEK, so time is of the essence if you want your voice to be heard.

And I’d like to post again one of my all-time favorite political cartoons for all the Senate Democrats (and those who caucus with them) except for the two distinguished gentlemen from Vermont.

donkeyspine





Mark “Stomach of Iron” Begich Speaks.

13 11 2008

begich-kos

Mark Begich made a radio appearance on the Ed Schultz show today. He sounded pretty confident, but not cocky. He’s been through this before. When he was elected Mayor of Anchorage, he won by 18 votes. So his current lead of 814 seems like a landslide! His strong showing in districts with military bases, and out in rural Alaska speak volumes, coming from areas that have traditionally gone to Stevens.

He also discussed Sarah Palin’s potential plans for the future, including either throwing her hat in the ring if Stevens wins and is booted out by the Senate, running in 2010 for the Senate seat currently held by Lisa Murkowski, or running for President in 2012. He also used the word “debacle” when describing the McCain-Palin campaign, which made me smile.

Begich picked up on Palin’s recent quote, “I am not one to appoint myself or a member of my family to take the place of any [Senate] vacancy.” As you all know by now, she couldn’t do that anyway because it’s illegal…but it was a pretty obvious jab at Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was appointed to that position by her father Frank Murkowski when he left his Senate seat to become Governor of the state. He’s the one Palin trounced in the primary when she ran for the position. She may have Murkowski #2 in her cross hairs.

Begich also mentioned that his need to keep his operation going an extra week or two, means he is still welcome donations to the campaign. So, if you want to help him keep the staff he needs to make sure that this counting process goes smoothly, and keep everyone running full steam until the vote is finalized, you can throw him a little love at www.begich.com

Donations big or small would be most appreciated, I’m sure.





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.**





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.

 

 





Things May Be Looking Up for Mark Begich.

7 11 2008

How the man has any stomach lining left, I do not know. But Mark Begich, Democratic candidate for the Senate has been in a holding pattern, 3300 votes behind Republican incumbent convicted felon Ted Stevens since Election night.

There may be as many as 80,000 ballots yet to count, including absentee ballots and those early votes that came in between Friday morning and Monday night. Nate Silver, the numbers guru at fivethirtyeight.com has looked over the returns and raises the following point:

Although Ted Stevens currently holds a lead of approximately 3,200 votes in ballots counted to date in Alaska’s senate contest, there is good reason to believe that the ballots yet to be counted — the vast majority of which are early and absentee ballots — will allow Mark Begich to mitigate his disadvantage with Stevens and quite possibly pull ahead of him.

The reasoning behind this is simple: some early ballots have been processed, and among those ballots Begich substantially leads Stevens. A tally of Alaska’s 40 house districts as taken from Alaska’s Division of Elections webpage suggests that Begich has won about 61% of the early ballots counted so far, as compared with 48% of ballots cast on Election Day itself.

So, if this trend continues with the votes still outstanding, Begich may pull this one off.  Here are the current numbers:

Mark Begich 103337 46.61%
Ted Stevens 106594 48.08%

…and then Nate Silver does all kinds of statistical, mathematical, wonky magic, and we end up with:

Begich ahead in the final count by 3000 votes.  For the man who won his race for mayor of Anchorage by 18 votes, this would be a landslide.

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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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Alaska Senior Senator Ted Stevens Guilty on All 7 Counts!

27 10 2008

The jury, which just got a new alternate juror this morning, has found Stevens guilty on all seven felony counts of lying on his Senate financial disclosure reports by not revealing gifts and services totalling over $250,000.

Mark Begich, wherever he is, is doing the Snoopy dance.

UPDATE:

Stevens will still be able to finish out the election, and be elected to office, even though he is now a convicted felon.

The Senate can vote him out by a 2/3 majority.





Stevens Trial Stalls.

24 10 2008

The strange and unpredictable Ted Stevens jury is proving to be a challenge. Today, we learned that Juror #4, who went AWOL yesterday night, left the state to attend her father’s funeral.

Without explanation to the jurors, Judge Sullivan dismissed the other 11 at 9:50am today. Reports say the 11 jurors didn’t look pleased. They may just want to get this trial over with. They’ve been living and breathing Ted Stevens and the Girdwood chalet since September 22nd.

Judge Sullivan will hold a hearing on Sunday night to determine whether the juror will be able to return to the trial. Even if she agrees to return to D.C., it is unlikely that the trial will resume on Monday. A postponement until Tuesday, or Wednesday will add considerably to the drama of the trial…at least from an Alaskan perspective.

Many Alaskans hold the opinion that these jurors are choosing who will win the coveted Senate seat in November. Stevens requested a speedy trial so he could “clear himself” before November 4th. Whether his confidence will prove to be justified, we don’t know.

With just one point separating Stevens from Begich in the latest poll, Alaskans now look forward to several more days of waiting and wondering.





Ted Stevens’ Trial…Closing Arguments Begin.

21 10 2008

We’ve heard about massage chairs, sled dog puppies, and giant black furniture. We’ve heard from contractors, and former best friends, and Mrs. Stevens. We’ve been regaled with stories of male-bonding and wine drinking for weight loss in the desert Southwest. I refer, of course, to the Ted Stevens trial. All in all the trial has been very….Alaskan. Stevens faces seven felony counts of failure to disclose gifts on his Senate Financial Disclosure Forms.

Today is the day closing arguments begin, and the prosecution is presenting its case right now. By tomorrow, the jury deliberations will have started.

WASHINGTON – As prosecutors made their final argument Tuesday to jurors in Sen. Ted Stevens’ corruption case, they replayed a now-infamous recording of the senator, who told a close friend that the worst that could ever happen to him as a result of a federal investigation would be a little jail time, or perhaps excessive legal bills.

“Does that sound like someone who really believes he didn’t do something wrong?” asked prosecutor Joseph Bottini, an assistant U.S. Attorney from Anchorage who delivered closing arguments for the Justice Department this morning.

[snip]

Some of those things Stevens was given were smaller than others, Bottini acknowledged, such as a stained glass window and a generator. But none of those items were ever disclosed as gifts on his financial disclosure forms, Bottini said.

And “how he treats these smaller items speaks volumes about how he intended to treat the bigger ticket items, like the home remodel,” Bottini said.

His attitude was clear when he tried to figure out how to disclose the value of a sled dog his friends bought him at a charity auction, Bottini said. Stevens, in asking about the dog, wrote an e-mail describing the disclosure requirements as a “GD” disclosure form.

“He calls it his, pardon me, his “God Damn” disclosure form,” Bottini said. “That pretty much sums up his attitude. He’s not above the law and he can’t evade it simply because he doesn’t like it.”

Alaskans are sitting on the edge of their seats. The one furthest on the edge? Other than Ted himself, it’s probably Anchorage Mayor, and Stevens’ Democratic rival for the senate seat, Mark Begich. An acquittal for Stevens makes his job a lot more daunting.





State of the Senate Race

24 08 2008

Brownsox over at Daily Kos has an interesting Senate race summary, claiming 5 certain Democratic pick ups if the election were held today, with many races trending Democratic.

Alaska (Stevens – R incumbent): At this point, the only thing that can save indicted Alaska Republican Ted Stevens is an acquittal at his September 24 trial. Orange to Blue candidate Mark Begich, the Democratic Mayor of Anchorage, now sports an impressive 18-point lead over Stevens, per Pollster’s average. His leads over Stevens’ primary opponents are even wider, and since April, Begich has been outraising Stevens quite substantially.

It’s unlikely that Stevens will lose his primary, and almost certain that he will not remove his name from the ballot if he wins (thus enabling the GOP to nominate a potentially stronger candidate).

I do not expect Stevens’ reelect numbers to remain mired in the thirties, as they are now. Still, Begich has evidently taken control of this race, and he is sufficiently popular in his own right that he should be able to maintain his advantage over the coming months. Stevens is an Alaska institution and a 40-yar incumbent, but an outright acquittal may be the only thing to save his bacon. And even an acquittal may not be enough.

The Republican brand in Alaska is so badly damaged it’s doubtful even an acquittal would turn the race at this point.  It would doubtless entrench the current Stevens supporters, and might net a bit of a pick up for him…but 18 points?  Not going to happen.  An acquittal plus the discovery that Begich is an axe murderer….maybe.

We should not rule out a 60-seat filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate, either.  The only thing Dems should fear is a pickup that would net a 59-seat majority…allowing Lieberman to retain his power by threatening to withhold his vote.  If it falls out with 58 seats or less, or over 59 without him  he can be swiftly and joyously stripped of his committee positions and banished from the kingdom…