Friday, September 12, 2008

Venturing around the block from Palin-mania

I've discovered life outside of Palin-world!

Actually, I didn't really venture far.

I went looking in the campaigns that in any other election would not stand a chance of being the second, third, fourth story on the news (I mean locally, here, folks).

For instance, the U.S. Senate seat long-ago engraved with the name of Ted Stevens - and I do mean long-ago, like almost 40 years ago - could (should, will) go to our mayor, Mark Begich.

When I was down at the Dem. Convention a few weeks ago, and the primary results came through, people (non-Alaskans) were shocked that Stevens was chosen in the primary. Apparently, they expected that he was not going to get chosen because of the indictment.

We Alaskans were more surprised that they thought he wouldn't win the primary.

In fact, his indictment had less impact than you'd think on Alaskans voting for him. Most of the people I talk to now kind of shrug about - the money he pulls in for Alaska has outweighed the corruption for many. (Not comforting to many of you in the Lower 48, I know, but many of us ARE trying to resolve this!) The latest polling has Stevens only a few percentage points behind Mark Begich. Two major factors are what really have Stevens behind at all - the indictment, and the strength of his opponent.

Begich pulled ahead of Stevens before the indictment even came through - practically unheard of in a race against Stevens. He's a popular mayor (with good reason) of the largest city in Alaska. By largest city, I mean about half of the population of the state lives here. He has his own reputation for bucking the "good ol' boy" network, and comes from a strong political pedigree (His late father, Nick Begich,) with clear stances and actions on some of the state's biggest issues. Some of them aren't even the most popular stances (he is a Democrat in a highly Republican state, after all), but Begich is respected for sticking to his guns, and working with people to figure it out. He will get things done.

Another race that has received limited attention for what it would have been if Palin-mania had not gripped the state, is the nail-biter between Don Young and Sean Parnell in the primary for U.S. Congress. The vote won't be certified until the 18th, but Young's ahead by just over 200 votes last I heard. Talk about another guy who has had the seat since forever.

I'm not as sure about this election. Don Young is also embroiled in scandal and legal issues, but he hasn't brought quite so much to the state as Stevens, and... well, he's just not that likable. I don't know the exact numbers, but he's trailing behind Berkowitz - the Democratic candidate - by quite a bit. This race isn't quite as much about the strength of the Democratic candidate, as is the Begich/Stevens race. Berkowitz is good, but not quite the shining star Begich is. This race, I think, is more about not electing Don Young. Diane Benson, the other strong Democratic primary candidate, was polling ahead of Young too - Young was a good third place.

By the way, I know people outside Alaska aren't seeing them, but Mark Begich wins my "Best Campaign Commercials" vote. He actually talks about ISSUES in them. Hard to detect in what Obama just called "silly season" for politics, but I actually kind of look forward to them.

So far he's addressed corrupt Alaskan politicians (and in a way I never thought possible - without personal attacks!), alternative energy (wind farms on Fire Island), No Child Left Behind, and even a very touching one about his father, and the impact and legacy Nick Begich has left.

Check out the links above for the YouTube versions folks - he's going to be representing Alaskans soon!

And yeah, if you haven't noticed, I'm quite a fan of Begich, even before he was mayor, with good reason. I will be exploring his candidacy when all the to do with Palin has died down at least a little bit. He's got strong positions I really agree with, made some real change in this city, is just plain a smart guy, and to top it off, he and his family have a great record with the Native people in this state.

All right, my own little impromptu ad is over.

But see, wasn't it nice to have a few moments away from the "P"-word?

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