An Alaskan Update: Why a new 814 vote spread between Senatorial candidate Begich over Senator Stevens in Alaska? Indians and Eskimos who had to leave their rural villages for the cities because of the high cost of fuel, may have read Mark Begich’s proposed plan to address the energy crisis in Bush Alaska (not that Bush) beforehand and voted in high absentee numbers, unusual for them, before they left. Yesterday’s belated absentee up count in Begich’s favor, makes this a very close Senatorial race. Rural Alaska Natives may have presumed that, this time around, Stevens would be too occupied with his own trial and in no position to help them in Washington DC.
Should we suspect the electoral process, itself, because of these twists and turns and create a new Alaska Secretary for Electoral Ethics, as Alaska born writer, ShannynMoore advocates? Nope. Nothing strange for Alaska is really happening except typically, outsized and unanticipated events with their impacts upon the ordinary. Alaska is a place where volcanic ash can stop airplanes from flying during the holidays and an avalanche or moose in the road can stall regular commutes for hours or days. Some former big name politicians are in jail or on their way to jail, or should be, and others are not. Alaskans take this in stride.
Stevens will still count on overseas military voters, who usually vote straight Republican tickets. But, this time around, some in the overseas military might vote a split ticket because of the “Obama opportunity,” or because of the direct and constant, negative exposure to publicity about Stevens’ conviction, unbuffered by Alaska’s local and abiding love for Uncle Ted.
As luck would have it, Congressman Don Young had a chance to vote twice against the nefarious corporate bailout by the taxpayers. Ethan Berkowitz said he would have voted for it during their televised debate. Young’s position is wildly popular in Alaska. Allegiance to the national party line may have cost Berkowitz the Congressional seat, but won this bright Alaskan export a spot in the new Obama Administration. Sarah Palin, he’s not,
So, stay tuned for still more fun in the Deep North after the 19th of November when all of the Iraqi and other overseas-postmarked votes must be received by the Alaska State Division of Elections. The vote count must be finished before Thanksgiving because the Great Alaska Shoot Out is coming to town. On, You Huskies!
STEVE CONN lived in Alaska from 1972 until 2007. He is a retired professor, University of Alaska. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.