Small Victory for Obama in Alaska

20 11 2008
US PRESIDENT
Total
Number of Precincts 438
Precincts Reporting 438 100.0 %
Times Counted 325054/495731 65.6 %
Total Votes 323820

Baldwin and Castle AI 1652 0.51%
Barr and Root LIB 1575 0.49%
McCain and Palin REP 192631 59.49%
Nader and Gonzalez IND 3757 1.16%
Obama and Biden DEM 122485 37.83%
Write-in Votes 1720 0.53%

Obama did not win in Alaska. Polls had him on an average of about 11 points behind in the weeks before the election. Alas, the numbers reflected in the polls turned out to be worse for Obama in the general election. At one point it looked like McCain-Palin took a whopping 65% of the vote.

With all the excitement of the Senatorial race, all anyone could think about was Begich vs. Stevens. First Stevens up, and Begich down. Then separated by 3 votes. Then Begich up and Stevens down. Begich more up. Uh-oh, Stevens gaining. Begich up again. It was dizzying, and everyone’s laser-sharp focus was trained on those returns.

But there’s one small victory that hasn’t been talked about much. After the whopping 90,000 votes that were counted in Alaska after election day, there was a shift in the presidential race. After the final tally, McCain-Palin won by 59.49%. LESS than 60%. And we can even round down to 59%! I’ll take it.

2008 McCain/Palin 59% Obama/Biden 38%

2004 Bush 61 – Kerry 35
2000 Bush 59 – Gore 28

Obama won the hearts of more Alaska voters than any Democrat in recent memory. And McCain-Palin, despite their surface appeal, with the Alaska Governor on the ticket, frankly, didn’t do all that well comparatively. I’m looking forward to 2012. I think we’re headed in the right direction.

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Palin on Stevens. Let the Back-Pedaling Begin!

6 11 2008

Here we go.  Alaskans were wondering how Palin was going to deal with her condemnation of Senator Ted Stevens now that she realizes that close to half of Alaskans still voted for him despite the fact that he is a convicted felon.  This puts her squarely at odds with public opinion, especially Republican public opinion.

Seems as if she’s leaned over and extended a hand to Uncle Ted, to help him out from under the bus.  Will he take it?  Too little too late?  We’ll wait and see.  In the meantime, let the back-pedaling begin!

Ms. Palin faces some complicated political dynamics now that she has returned. Some state Democrats, often her allies in the past, have been angered by her aggressive partisanship on the campaign trail. Then again, Ms. Palin has criticized some important local Republicans, too.

Last week, after Senator Ted Stevens was convicted on federal charges that he failed to disclose gifts and free home renovations he received, Ms. Palin joined Mr. McCain and other top Republicans in calling for him to resign. Yet while Ms. Palin lost her bid for the vice presidency, Mr. Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, holds a narrow lead in his bid for a seventh full term.

Asked Wednesday whether she still believed that Mr. Stevens should resign, Ms. Palin was circumspect, saying only that the people of Alaska “just spoke” on the issue at the ballot box and that “they want him as their senator.” She said Mr. Stevens should decide “what happens next.” (Mr. Stevens could still be forced to step down, and Ms. Palin is widely viewed as a potential candidate for his seat if he does.)

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Prominent Alaskans Demand an Apology from the McCain-Palin Campaign.

1 11 2008

One of the most interesting things about living in Alaska is that you get a true appreciation of how large and how small it is – large geographically, and small socially.  The fact that there are so few people means that it’s almost impossible to spend a day doing errands without running in to someone you know, it’s common to find out that two of your unrelated friends actually know each other, and that engaged citizens can really affect positive change in the political process.  Another consequence of this “smallness factor” is that those who hold public office, and do a good job, become very well respected in the community.  Everyone knows who they are, and when they have something to say, people listen.

People generally respect one another here.  You learn quickly that you’d better treat people well or it might come back to haunt you. The guy you just told off will undoubtedly end up being your kid’s soccer coach, or the guy who pulls over to help you change a tire when it’s 20 below zero.  The woman that just made you land on the horn in traffic is undoubtedly going to be standing next to you in line wherever you’re going, or will be serving you your lunch.

This is why Alaskans, regardless of their political affiliation, watched in horror as Megan Stapleton (former local newscaster turned Palin spokeswoman) and attorney Ed O’Callaghan (an ‘outsider’ hired by the McCain campaign) started giving press conferences, calling themselves the “Truth Squad”.  The Truth Squad’s purpose it seemed, was to sully the reputation of former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan.  According to the independent investigator hired by the Alaska State Legislature, Palin abused her power in his firing.  She wanted Monegan to fire her ex-brother in law, an Alaska State Trooper who she felt had wronged her family.  Monegan couldn’t legally act, because the matter was already closed.  Palin fired him anyway. 

It was either going to play out in the media that Palin abused her power, or that Monegan deserved it.  So the Truth Squad got to work, and they broke the cardinal rule in Alaska – treat people well.   Monegan is well-loved, and respected across the board.  So, for Palin’s story to stick, the McCain-Palin campaign had to make this look like Monegan’s problem.  Enter the Truth Squad.  According to them, Monegan had a “rogue mentality”,  and he committed acts of “outright insubordination”.  Try to get a job in law enforcement if the Governor of the state has called you an “insubordinate rogue”.

So, when Representative Les Gara, in an epic piece of video footage, demanded that Meg Stapleton (former news anchor turned Palin spokeswoman) apologize to Walt Monegan, and the other Legislators that had gotten smeared by the “Truth Squad”, he wasn’t kidding.  This wasn’t some quaint, old-fashioned request, nor was it just a PR stunt.  He really did think she owed them an apology.  So did a lot of other Alaskans.

Now, two other prominent Alaska lawmakers have joined in the formal request for an apology.  Gail Phillips, former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Chancy Croft, former Democratic President of the State Senate released a press release yesterday, that has already received wide coverage in the state, on radio and in today’s Anchorage Daily News.  This is one more thing that will be waiting on Governor Palin’s desk when she gets home.  It’s a good letter, and it sums up eloquently what many Alaskans feel.  Here it is reprinted, by permission, in its entirety:

October 28, 2008

Dear Senator McCain:

We are writing because we believe an apology is owed from your campaign to Alaskans and our former Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan. As former legislative leaders of both major political parties in Alaska, we haven’t always agreed upon political issues. However, we adamantly agree that Mr. Monegan, who is well respected in Alaska by people of all party affiliations, is owed an apology. The attacks against Commissioner Monegan for his role in administering a personnel issue, now known statewide as “Troopergate”, were unwarranted and wrong. Mr. Monegan is a former U.S. Marine, a front-line police officer, was Chief of Police in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, served as our State’s Commissioner of Public Safety and served both Republicans and Democrats with professionalism and honor.

This summer Governor Palin fired Mr. Monegan as Commissioner, which was within her purview. However, in July, the Legislature, through unanimous action by the bi-partisan Legislative Council, voted to investigate Commissioner Monegan’s termination and whether his refusal to fire Trooper Wooten played a role in his termination. The investigation had nothing to do with your campaign.

After Governor Palin was named as your running mate, your campaign stepped into the fray. In an effort to discredit and stop the bi-partisan legislative investigation into whether or not Governor Palin acted improperly in seeking the termination of her former brother-in-law, Trooper Wooten, your campaign engaged in a near-daily course of personal attacks against Mr. Monegan and members of the legislature. It’s obvious to many of us that you probably were not aware of these attacks by your campaign committee; however, since the final responsibility is yours, we feel Mr. Monegan is owed an apology from you.

In an effort to halt the bi-partisan investigation, your campaign staff tried to vilify Commissioner Monegan. Before Governor Palin was selected to your presidential ticket, she had agreed to the investigation; she publicly said it was justified and that she and her staff would cooperate with the investigation. She stated to the press that the public had a right to be concerned whether or not her administration may have placed improper pressure on the State Department of Public Safety to fire her former brother-in-law.

Following Governor Palin’s selection as your running mate, your campaign sent staff to Alaska to try to stop the investigation that Governor Palin had previously agreed to. Your campaign staff accused the legislative action as partisan in spite of the fact that the unanimous vote of the Legislative Council was bi-partisan.

Your campaign accused Mr. Monegan of being a “rogue”, of being insubordinate and other defamatory statements. To justify your involvement in this Alaskan issue and the Governor’s termination of Commissioner Monegan, your campaign continually changed the excuses for his termination. The various and changing excuses given by your campaign speaks clearly to the lack of credibility in its involvement.

Despite your campaign’s efforts to stop the investigation in court, and by public pressure, the investigation was recently completed. On October 10th the investigative report was released and the independent investigator, Steve Branchflower, concluded that the Governor had violated the State’s Executive Ethics statute by pressuring for the termination of Mr. Wooten from his position as an Alaskan State Trooper. The investigation also found that one of the probable reasons Commissioner Monegan was terminated was his refusal to fire the Governor’s former brother-in-law.

We acknowledge the authority the Governor has for terminating Commissioners; however, your campaign’s interference into this State matter and attempts to discredit Commissioner Monegan for campaign purposes is very troubling. Both the vilification of Mr. Monegan and the attempts by your campaign to stop the investigation were wrong.

We respectfully request an apology from your campaign to Mr. Monegan. He is a good man who has put his life on the line for Alaskans many times and he deserves better treatment from you and your campaign. Not only have the personal attacks from your campaign deeply affected and hurt the Monegan family, but also the people of Alaska who care and respect Mr. Monegan.

Sincerely,

Gail Phillips
Former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives

Chancy Croft
Former President of the Alaska State Senate

Alaskans for Truth, the organizers of the huge rally in downtown Anchorage last month, and the organizers of the petition demanding the resignation of the Attorney General Talis Colberg for his botched handling of the Troopergate investigation, has issued a call to action.

They ask that any and all people, from inside or outside the state, who agree with the above letter, and are disgusted by the treatment of this decent, hard-working man who has served his country and his state with honor, please send a postcard to the McCain campaign adding your name to those respectfully demanding an apology for their behavior.  Then, let Alaskans for Truth know you did (alaskansfortruth@gmail.com).  It’s a small act, but it may help to restore something important that was taken from a good man.

Postcards can be sent to:

Honorable Senator John McCain
John McCain 2008
P.O. Box 16118
Arlington, VA 22215

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Ted Stevens Numbers Slide After Conviction

30 10 2008

The Ted Stevens/Mark Begich Senate race in Alaska was a toss-up before the jury came back with the verdict of guilty on all seven felony counts for failure to disclose gifts and services totaling more than $250,000.

And, despite the amped up, frenzied Stevens supporters who crowded into an airplane hangar for Stevens’ Welcome Home rally last night, the scale has started to tip decidedly for Democratic challenger Mark Begich.  It’s a toss-up no more.  It isn’t over yet, but Uncle Ted’s chances are looking pretty slim.

Rasmussen released the following numbers, taken the day after Stevens’ conviction.
Begich (D) – 52%
Stevens (R) – 44%
Bird (AIP) – 3%
Undecided – 2%

Only 74% of Republicans say they will vote for the nominee of their party while 21% of GOP voters will cast their ballot for Begich, the mayor of Anchorage.

Fifty-two percent (52%) of Alaska voters say Stevens should resign while 39% disagree. Republican leaders including John McCain, his running mate Sarah Palin, the current governor of Alaska, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have all called upon Stevens to step down.

Stevens is now viewed favorably by 43% of Alaska voters, down from 54% before the trial began. Still, even after the guilty verdict, 52% of voters say Stevens is about as ethical as most politicians. Fifteen percent (15%) say Stevens is more ethical than most of his peers while 31% say he is less ethical. These reactions say as much about perceptions of politicians as they do about Stevens.

This must explain why 51% of Alaska voters say that Sarah Palin is more ethical than most politicians.

Palin earns good or excellent reviews as governor from 61% of voters in her home state, virtually unchanged from polling last month. Eighty-five percent (85%) of Republicans and 59% of unaffiliated voters give Palin positive marks.

Overall, just 22% rate her job performance as poor, a figure that includes 44% of Democrats.

If this makes you want to bang your head on the desk….stop. Remember that Sarah Palin’s approval rating was hovering around 90% at one point. So, step back, and think of how it would look on a graph. Time on the X-axis, and favorability ratings on the Y-axis. After the third time I banged my head on the desk, a vision of this graph popped in to my mind, and I stopped. Once the fun of having a local politician on the national stage is over, and she gets back home, the numbers will continue to slide. Stay tuned.

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Palin is on Her Way Home.

10 09 2008

Palin is officially on her way back to Alaska. It’s been less than two weeks since she scurried out of the state to meet the McCains at their Sedona, Arizona home. (I think that’s home #3, right?) After accepting McCain’s invitation to join her on the ticket and addressing the adoring masses at the Republican National Convention, she’s been avoiding the press like the plague, and appearing at campaign stops around the country.

I wonder if Republican voters see the irony of non-stop media coverage, tens of thousands of Republicans waiting on line for hours, and chanting Sa-rah Sah-rah. It’s almost like she was a……(ominous organ music)……celebrity. And we all know how we feel about celebrities, and the mindless, fawning, wide-eyed ‘followers’ that worship the ground they walk on.

I digress.

There’s a big “Welcome Home” rally planned for her in Fairbanks tonight. Tomorrow she will speak at the deployment ceremony for the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright. Her son, Track, is about to deploy to Iraq with that unit.

At the end of the week, she’ll return to the Mat-Su Valley, but no public events have been scheduled, and she has refused to meet with any local media. At some point during her travels, she will de-bunker herself and meet with Charlie Gibson of ABC news for “exclusive interviews.”

There is some talk of a rally on Saturday in Anchorage, but nothing is official yet. There is, however, another type of rally. There’s an email circulating inviting Anchorage women, and the men who love them, to a rally hosted by the newly found group “Alaska Women Reject Palin”. It is being touted as a bipartisan group whose purpose it is to make it known that Palin does not have the support of all Alaskan women, and that this election is a matter of issues, not gender, or personality.

UPDATE:  The AKWAP (Alaska Women Against Palin) group is meeting at noon on Saturday in front of the Loussac Library in Anchorage.  Wear hot pink and black….if you have it.





Heading Home Through SarahLand.

1 09 2008

 

Last week - prescient black cloud appears over Republican booth at the State Fair

Last week - prescient black cloud appears over Republican booth at the State Fair

I’ll be heading back home to Anchorage today, and passing through Wasilla…Alaska’s new most famous (or infamous) small town and home of Governor Sarah Palin.  I’ve got camera in hand and will post a “Valley Gallery” tonight.  I’ve already got some great shots, and I think you’ll enjoy the virtual tour.

Just talked to a Valley resident who works for the state and is a registered Independent.  I asked, “So, what do you think of our new Veep candidate?”  The answer (after chuckling and shaking his head) “What a way to commit suicide.”  He’d just gotten back from the Alaska State Fair.  That’s where Palin was when she got “the call” from John McCain asking her to be his running mate.  The first run of McCain/Palin T-shirts were already sold out.  But there were a few bumper stickers left….right next to the ones that say “Liberalism is a Curable Disease”.  Nothing like a little brotherly love in the Alaska Republican booth.