Primary post mortem

August 28, 2008 at 6:25 am | Posted in politics | Leave a comment
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I didn’t even want to look at the results this morning because I had a feeling this was one of those elections when nothing went my way. 

Lt. Governor Sean Parnell almost pulled a fast one on Don Young in the U.S. House GOP primary.  Young will squeak by.  On the Democratic side, Ethan Berkowitz bested Diane Benson by 16 points, though a poll had him 28 points up the week before.  I had high hopes for Benson.  She represents every segment of society that is chronically under-represented.  She would have been the first female Native American in the U.S. Congress.  She would have been perfect and I hope she will run again.  She ran a much better campaign than in 2006.  She won every debate and Q&A hands down.  I could write a book about her but I’ll stop here.

The larger disappointment for me: both Berkowitz and Benson are highly qualified, conscientious and dedicated.  Parnell is an empty vessel, incapable of answering questions in debates [Young dubbed him Captain Zero]; visibly, obviously clueless.  And Young is embattled in a corruption scandal investigation [he’s already spent more than $1 million on legal defense].  And yet, with all but a few votes counted there are 93,544 cast in the closed GOP primary and 65,432 for the Democrats and all the fringe parties.  Berkowitz will have no better or worse chances than Benson would have, and sadly won’t be able to close this 18 point gap before the general election.

This should have been the Democrats’ big year!  With the Republican corruption scandal reducing the state GOP to charred remains [three former state legislators in jail, more indicted or under investigation].  If not now, when?

The Senate race is a much brigher outlook for the left.  Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich collected 55,993 votes in the open primary to Ted Stevens’ 59,123.  Stevens’ Republican opponent David Cuddy got 25,380.  Stevens has already been indicted and will likely be in the middle of his corruption trial on November 4th. 

A good friend grew up in northern Virginia near Washington D.C.  He said today: now you know how Marion Berry could get re-elected as D.C. mayor after he was caught smoking crack with a hooker in a motel room.  “What would Stevens have to do?” he asked.  “He may as well fire up a crack pipe on the six o’clock news — it obviously won’t cost him any votes.”

The way this one will go Nov. 4th — if there’s a wingnut or two on the ballot to siphon off some railbelt Republicans, Begich will be able to squeak in there.  50.001 percent would be enough of a mandate for me.  I don’t always agree with Begich on the issues, but he’s demonstrated an ability to learn and he’s run a sophisticated campaign that has put him on the national radar in short order.  I’m excited about the idea of him winning.

We voted on four bond propostions, with significant impact on environmental regulation; aerial wolf hunting and campaign financing.  In three of the four props, the vote was lopsided and against the people’s interests.  And the vote represents a triumph of the influence of a massive influx of funds from out of state PACs — something that’s a bigger problem each election, and there will be a lot more of it because it almost always succeeds here.  I must be surrounded by some of the dumbest people in the nation.  Almost everyone I asked about it only beagn reading and analyzing the bond props minutes before going to the polls.

Finally, I was embarrassed again to be living in a district that routinely votes 80% or more on the liberal side [and is the most coherent, compact and densely populated district in the state] but also usually has the lowest or second lowest voter turnout of 40 districts in the state.  While most Anchorage districts turned out 3,000 to 4,000 voters, ours managed less than 1,000.

Life goes on!  It’s always a challenge around here, too.  Alaska will have its Democratic revolution one day.  It just may take ten more years.

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