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April 21, 2014

Alaska Eyes 2014

2014SenateGraphic600w-1

The legislative session in Juneau has ended, and our elected officials have flown away from the carnage they either created, or endured.

The stalwart among us, the political junkies who don’t need to take time off to lick wounds, yell at clouds, or throw chairs, will begin to think of… 2014.

The courts have ruled that the redistricted map used for 2012 is not Constitutional. We literally go back to the drawing board to rework legislative boundaries. And the insanity will begin all over again.

But wait, that’s not all!

 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

We’ve also got our one and only seat in Congress up on the block again. Will anyone dare to take on Don “we used to have 50 or 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes” Young? Don “I’m under investigation by the feds yet again” Young?

About the closest political analogy you can get to running against Don Young is this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If you are running against him, you’ll be playing the part of the knight who brandishes his sword and says, “Rabbit stew, coming right up!” And if you are Don Young, you are of course, the rabbit.

Don Young has been in office since 1973, and the bones of many a noble knight lay strewn about his lair. And yes, he’s “only a little bunny” – a little awkward, bumbling, idiotic, bigoted, bunny who spews malapropisms and gaffes, and then bites your head off.

U.S. SENATE

And then there’s the Senate race. Mark Begich (D) is up for reelection to his seat for the first time. He did the impossible. He ran a clean campaign against Republican Senator Ted Stevens who was, at the time, a seven-time convicted felon. Fate smiled upon the “boy senator” and he slipped through the door by the tiniest of margins. After he settled into his office in DC, an investigation into the Stevens trial found gross misconduct by the prosecution, and the charges were dropped. Stevens supporters like to say he was “acquitted,” but the truth is that the whole trial just went away, and we’ll never know what a properly conducted trial would have found.

Mark-Begich

Begich, to his credit, managed to rise above the screaming conservatives (including Sarah Palin) who called for him to step down. He was a duck, and it rolled off his back, as it should have. But the Republican Party had it sights set on Mark Begich from day 1. The GOP jackals were hiding in the brush. Salivating. Waiting for 2014. Tick, tock.

Here’s the problem for Republicans. Alaska seems to like their senators to be fairly “centrist,” if there can be such a thing. They had the chance to elect a true religious, conservative, libertarianish Jim DeMint devotee. And they didn’t do it. Joe Miller was the rightful Republican nominee the last time we elected a senator. And the fear and loathing was so strong, and Democrats and moderate Republicans were so terrified that they handed Lisa Murkowski a write-in victory. And I propose to you that if Lisa Murkowski had not run for reelection, we would not have Senator Joe Miller, Constitutional conservative. We would, in fact, have Senator Scott McAdams, Constitutional progressive, and Alaska would be represented by a double D senate team.

But, as it stands we have a moderate Republican Senator, and a moderate Democratic Senator. And each of them drives their base crazy. And they both drive anti-corporatist, anti-establishment voters crazy, both on the left and right.

Mark Begich found himself in an interesting position. Yes, he seemed to have snuck in to the vacuum left by Uncle Ted. But he won fair and square, and even if he had been running against a different Republican who was not a decades-long institution in the Senate, he still might have won.

“IF YOU WERE MARK BEGICH”

So, let’s play “If You Were Mark Begich” for a minute. Once in D.C., you could have played your first term in one of two ways.

First, you would dispassionately assess the situation, and realize that as a Democrat in a fairly red state that hasn’t elected a Democratic Senator since Mike Gravel (1969-1981), there’s a more than slim chance that you would only be in the Senate for one term, no matter what you did. Then, you’d have a decision to make, and you’ve got two general strategies.

STRATEGY #1)

With that one term, you would decide to be bold, and Alaska-focused, a populist and true to your party most of the time (because after all everyone knew you were a Democrat when they elected you). You could be strong on civil liberties and privacy rights, pro-choice, tough on oil companies and Pebble Mine, and strong but reasonable on the second amendment. You could prove to Alaska that you can be an Alaska-style progressive, and do good things for the state. If they see that the world hasn’t ended, and that you are working hard, they will vote for you again. And if your base feels you are strong where it counts, they will not only vote for you, they will knock doors, hang fliers, phonebank, and donate to you, even if others are running in downballot races the same year. They will do this because they like the idea of having a Democrat represent Alaska in D.C. It feels good on a cellular level.

And if the Tea Party crowd sees you’re strong on civil liberties, they might even rather vote for you than for a Lisa Murkowski Republican.

It would be a gamble, but if you lost, you’d know you did your best for six years.

STRATEGY #2)

With that one term, you will try your hardest to be a Republican. Not a Joe Miller Republican, more of a Lisa Murkowski Republican, who’s better on social issues. You’d be fairly moderate on those, but to counter the damage you feared from taking those positions, you would embrace the oil companies even as they rape the state financially. You’d embrace offshore drilling, even as the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. And you would embrace the NRA, even as dozens died in Aurora Colorado, and 20 children and six educators were gunned down in an elementary school. You would push yourself to be as red as you could possibly be, without actually becoming a Republican. Because, Republicans like you don’t survive primary challenges from the right. Just ask Lisa Murkowski.

And if you did these things, nobody but nobody would be able to call you a “liberal” or a “progressive.” If Democrats nationally hated you, and the President argued with you, and Michael Bloomberg was spending gobs of money against you, and your very own base was shrieking that you were a corporate Republican tool, then maybe you’d stand a chance to win over independents and moderate Republicans. You could wear those things like an Alaskan badge of honor. And your base would never vote against you. Because no matter who was running as a Republican, they’d be worse. And you are, above all, a pragmatist.

And you would throw your base some nice bones too. You’d be openly pro-choice, and good on labor issues, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. You’d fight for things like social security to remind them about what the other side wants to do. You’d support Alaska Natives, and veterans, and the military. You are a politician, and you play a political chess game because you know how much worse it could be for Alaska, and the nation.

The Democratic bench is not deep, and the likelihood of a further-left Democrat running a viable primary challenge against you is slim. You roll the dice.

THE PROBLEM WITH THE STRATEGIES

Strategy #1)

You actually might not get reelected. You might be branded as a liberal, socialist, Obama-huggin’, Marxist, tax and spend treehugger. And some hideous fringy right-winger might actually get in, and be really, really bad. It’s possible.

The NRA might not support you. The oil companies might not support you as much as they might have, but they’ll support you just in case you win. They like to butter the bread on both sides.

But your base would love you. They’d knock doors, and donate, and do all those boots-on-the-ground things that people who respect someone who takes a stand do. Democrats across the nation would like you. You could appeal to PACs and others, and they’d care whether you were one of the 100 decision makers.

Be what your base wants you to be, stick with basic core principles that appeal to both sides, work hard and reap the benefits of populist support and boots-on-the-ground who are passionately committed to you.

Strategy #2)

In some ways you are more electable. Alaska has proved in the last senate race, that they like a moderate Republican. But, you will alienate your base. You vote against civil liberties (the NDAA) that might have endeared you to the libertarian crowd. You support without reservation offshore drilling, alienating you to the conservation crowd. You don’t take a stand on the proposed Pebble Mine project, which angers fishermen and environmentalists. And you stand against background checks for firearm purchases, even as the parents of slaughtered children stand in the Rose Garden, weeping.

But you stand up for women’s reproductive rights, and labor, and you stand up for Alaska Natives, and you stand up for social security.

But the NRA crowd isn’t going to support you. They’ll support the Republican running against you who will be just as pro-gun and anti-background check as you are. And the oil companies will donate to you, but they’ll also donate to the Republican running against you. And the Tea Party crowd isn’t going to vote for you. Nor are social conservatives.

And your base? Well, they’ll have nowhere else to go. They’ll have to vote for you or vote for someone they find even worse. So, they’ll likely fill in the oval no matter how mad they are at you. But they will not walk for you, donate to you, or phonebank for you. They will not be excited about you. Last time they were. So, you’ll have to hope that whoever runs against you is more like a Joe Miller than a Mead Treadwell, or a Sean Parnell. A Republican candidate that instills fear will be your friend in November.

Senator Begich has chosen the second way, for good or bad, success or failure.

HERE’S WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING

Joe Miller is now weighing another run for the Senate. Only this time, it’ll be against Mark Begich. A post on his website explains:

I have been a Republican for most of my adult life. But I am under no illusions about the Republican Establishment’s failure to confront the problems facing the country. The status quo is not a viable option.

Let’s be honest. The partisan frame of reference is outmoded. We now live under a duopoly which serves corporate and special interests, rather than the interests of the individual citizen. It’s the insiders versus the outsiders.

While many in my party prattle on and on about their desperate desire to “defeat Mark Begich,” that is not my singular object. Yes, Mark Begich is part of the problem in Washington. But for me, the 2014 election is not merely about beating Mark Begich. It’s about saving the country!

joe_miller

The corruption of the Republican Party in Alaska is not in question. We noticed it in 2006 when a full 10% of the legislature (all Republicans) were indicted for selling their votes to the oil companies. That taught the establishment GOP a lesson – next time, be sneakier about it. The need for a reformer on a white horse who was willing to clean Republican house is what brought us Sarah Palin. It could happen again.

Let’s assume that Miller wins the primary. Primary elections call out the hardcore ideological base, after all, and Miller is definitely a hard-core social conservative. And in Alaska, Democrats can’t pull a Republican primary ballot. This is why Joe Miller won the primary last time. It’s all about who is passionate enough to turn out. And this time, there is no moderate Republican already in the office he’s running for. There is no incumbent to run a write-in. This time it’s a Democrat. If Miller pulls off another primary victory, it’s Miller v. Begich, mano a mano.

And to listen to him, if he won, he’d take Strategy #1. Only, he’d be on the political right.

WHAT WILL ALASKANS DO?

Will the left’s and moderate Republicans’ distaste for Joe Miller’s politics inspire them to work hard for Mark Begich? Will they ignore the other down ticket races, and pound the pavement? Or will Miller rake in big bucks nationally, while the likes of Michael Bloomberg spend money to defeat Begich on principle because of his gun stance, regardless of whom he runs against?

Will Alaskans decide their limited campaign contribution dollars should go to Begich, or will they send them to legislative candidates, or a gubernatorial candidate, or to whatever white knight decides to take on the killer bunny that is Don Young?

THE NUMBERS

A recent Public Policy Poll which was taken BEFORE the recent gun and background check legislation votes, showed that voters approve of Begich’s job performance by a wider margin, 49% to 39%, and independents (more than 50% of voters) approve of Begich 54% to 32%. Begich also gets approval from 24% of Republican voters.

And the direct question was asked:

If the candidates for Senate next year were Democrat Mark Begich and Republican Joe Miller, who would you vote for?

Mark Begich…………………………………………….58%

Joe Miller ……………………………………………….. 30%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 12%

So, it appears that no matter how the base feels, Begich may have played his cards well to secure reelection, although we do not know how the recent gun vote will affect voters in the long term.

It seems clear that Republicans of certain stripes will cross over and vote for Begich. But would Democrats cross over and vote for Miller? Even those who agree with him on his civil libertarian, election integrity, and anti-corruption stances will likely not be able to stomach his extreme position on social issues. Joe Miller is taking Strategy Option #1, Begich is taking Strategy Option #2, and this particular race is likely to be one of the most fascinating we’ve seen in some time.

FINGER ON THE PULSE OF THE LEFT (MOSTLY)

Anecdotal evidence is certainly not scientific, and the best numbers we have are from the PPP poll cited above. But I asked those on my own Facebook page to tell me what they thought about Mark Begich. Here was my direct question:

Hey, Alaskans! I’m crowdsourcing for opinions. Those who are so inclined, please tell me what you think of Senator Mark Begich, and indicate your party affiliation or lack thereof. And try not to respond to other people or read their comments first, but just write your own independent assessment. What do you have to say? You can message me privately if you prefer. Thanks!
I got responses from several current and former Begich staffers which were instructive in how the office is handling the negative response from those who disagreed with his vote yesterday.
“I think he voted the exact same way he told you he’d vote in 2008. If you think he somehow “changed” or didn’t vote his principles you weren’t following closely. He has always had an A rating from the NRA. He has never been endorsed by them or received money from them, though. He did about 8 mailings in ’08 about his gun stances. Which mirror exactly how he voted today. So say you don’t like his vote. But you are projecting your feelings on him to accuse him of changing or selling out. He voted HIS conscience.” Current staffer
“I’m a Democrat. I think he’s a moderate Democrat who does what he needs to do as a Senator from a deep-red state.” Former intern
“If you’ve been paying attention, Sen. Begich is doing what he said he would do in his campaign. He has been clear on his views since Day One. People were just not paying attention. As another former staffer has pointed out, progressives should be happy with the Recovery Act, health care, two Supreme Court justices, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and a myriad of other issues like fair pay, renewal of violence against women act, etc. Occasionally he will have a vote you don’t like. But he is true to his convictions. And if you don’t support him in 2014, you are going to be crying a lot harder, more often and louder over all sorts of votes.” Former staffer
“To say Begich is a sell-out on this issue is simply not accurate. I disagree with him, but he has always been as pro-gun a person as I know, all the way back to when he was a teen. He is a Democrat in a red state, but for the most part he survives in politics here because he is a conservative, not because he is a sell-out. Maybe he is not conservative by the wacko standards of Alaska, but on the national spectrum, he is right of center. If Alaskan liberals are disappointed, they should be disappointed in their state, not in the guy who represents it far more rationally than most of our elected officials.” Former staffer
Of course, my own Facebook profile is likely populated mostly by politically active and aware Democrats, Greens, and left-leaning independents. But those were the ones I was really interested in hearing from. What are the people “who have nowhere else to go” thinking about Mark Begich? His recent gun votes, of course, will figure heavily into coloring the answers, since I asked the question on the day of the vote. I’ve removed the names of the commenters, and made some minor edits. But I think it’s instructive, and it will answer the question I’ve been getting from people Outside – What do Democrats in Alaska think of Begich?
Here’s how I broke down the 80 unique responders’ answers that came in during the first 12 hours (not including those I knew to be current or former staffers whose comments appear above):
Disappointed, sad, disgusted in general – 32
Disgusted and will reduce support in some way (donation, volunteerism, vote) – 20
Disgusted but understand he’s in a tough spot – 10
Political pragmatist who is supportive  - 10
Blanket support or overall positive comment – 8
Responding were:
Green Party – 5
Democrats – 36
Non-partisan or non-affiliated – 24
Republicans – 1
Unknown – 14
Here are most of the comments:
  • This week I am so embarrassed for him. What shameful pandering to the voting bloc. Thought he was above that. Dem Supervoter.
  • I’m a democrat and a gun owner and I am absolutely disgusted with Begich. He has proven time and time again the re-election is his sole concern. He actually spoke out against gun control BEFORE Lisa did (and she disgusts me as well). Mark’s prepared statement sounded as though the NRA wrote it for him. He’s a weak and spineless and does not give a rats ass about the people of this state or of any state. He’s worthless.
  •  I am so disappointed in him!! And I am exceedingly angry!! When I sent him a message about gun safety bills, he said that any new laws will not help stop gun violence. He is an idiot or is he just trying to get re-elected? I don’t know who he is anymore.
  • More interested in re-election than sticking to his principles. By the way, I am a Democrat and I support a person’s right to own guns.
  • Put Bloomberg’s money to use– defeat Begich and put a real Democrat in his office.
  • I’m a Democrat. I think he’s a moderate Democrat who does what he needs to do as a Senator from a deep-red state.
  • Begich listens to me as a constituent. To me that is better than any party affiliation one way or another.
  • He was elected during prosecutorial misconduct by Federal Attorneys in a trial that began one month before the election where Senator Stevens was found guilty, which as we all know was latter overturned. When he was a city assemblyman he represented my district in East Anchorage. My direct personal contact with him regarding the safety of my family and his unwillingness to indicate that he had time to address the laws of Anchorage himself left me with a low opinion of him.
  • I think he is one of the more genuine politicians out there. He doesn’t give off an air of superiority like so many others. He works really hard doesn’t make us look foolish making terrible statements. I would like to see him keep his seat. We definitely don’t need any more people from the right who just go with the party line. I am non-partisan.
  • Registered Green Party but vote Democrat. I am furious with Mark.. I gave him money, waved signs, walked door to door. Never will vote for him again. He is a disgrace.
  • Being Independent I’m leaning towards Crazy Miller for senate if he decides to run unless there’s a viable dem that runs against Begich.
  • I am wondering which of his loyal staff will be the first to resign in protest. His position is uconscionable and if it represents his “true beliefs” on the subject, we made a mistake in 2008. Sorry, but my checkbook is closed.
  • I get the hard spot Begich is in. He’s a moderate Dem from a very pro-gun red state. He’s up for re-election and isn’t going to piss off Alaska. He’s not stupid. What I don’t like is 90 percent of Americans support a background check — NINETY PERCENT — and our senators failed to do the will of the people and bent over for the NRA and its lobbyists. Now, I know that 90 percent is not 90 percent of Alaska. I do know Begich supported the voters of Alaska, the majority of whom want nothing done when it comes to firearms. Disappointed? Yes, I am. But Begich voted the way most of Alaska probably wanted him to vote. (I’d love to see some polling on Alaska’s residents’ numbers, BTW). For that I do not fault him. What I do fault is the U.S. Senate as a whole for kowtowing to special interests.Begich voted the way most of his constituents wanted him to vote. The Senate as a whole sold the nation out. And my affiliation is proud progressive Dem.
  • As a registered green, but in reality a pragmatic democrat, most of what Mark does I do not agree with. If it comes to him, Miller, or perhaps one of the Dan Sullivans I’d vote for him in a heartbeat, but only because the others are so much worse. In truth, I really do wish he would just vote like a real democrat, not worried about re-election. Going down in a blaze of glory for actual beliefs sure would beat losing to an R because you sold out your party to try and avoid offending conservatives.
  • I am a democrat. I think he is dumb and a sellout.
  • I am a Democrat but I sent a message to Sen. Begich tonight telling him that I have had it. No more support after his vote today. If he thinks a grade from the NRA is more important than trying to save even one life, we do not share the same values.
  • I’m deeply disappointed in Mark’s vote on the The Toomey-Schumer-Manchin Amendment today. Now I hope Scott McAdams or someone else with a spine & testicles (or ovaries) will defeat Mark in the primary in 2014, so we have a True Progressive to vote for. Mark just lost his base voters. I’m registered non-partisan. I’m somewhat to the left of the Democratic Party, but I caucus with the D’s. (For the record, I’m a lifelong gun owner and was an NRA member for many years, until they went off the rails.)
  • Undeclared and sickened.
  • He wimps out over and over again! Thats what I think!
  • When he was my assembly person he was great. I’m officially green.
  • Undeclared and totally disgusted after the gun control votes. Apparently his hopes of re-election are more important than his citizens lives.
  • I’m a Democrat who is highly disappointed in Mark Begich; I was hoping for a much stronger voice for Alaska and the nation
  • I’m a Dem and supported Mark when he was mayor of Anch and have contributed to his Senate campaign. After his vote to continue the filibuster and today’s vote against background checks I am very angry and disappointed. We’ll be reconsidering any further contributions.
  • A Democrat and disappointed but also recognizing that he has an avidly pro-gun constituency.
  • I’m a multi gun owner but I will not support Mark Begich as long as he tows the republican line, the firearms I own are for hunting but I’m sure they’ll do in a pinch if it goes there. Mark lost more than one vote today.
  •  I have been a registered Democrat ever since I first registered to vote in 1992. I voted for Mark Begich for U.S. Senate. I am beyond disgust that he would vote to ensure that criminals and the dangerously mental ill would be allowed to purchase guns. There is simply no excuse for that. He, like President Obama, should stop trying to please people who will not vote for him. If Begich dug the first hole for the Pebble Mine, killed a caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and ate its heart raw after dipping it in fresh drilled oil on the coastal plain – and caught it all on film – the conservative fringe still wouldn’t vote for him. Let the gun fetishist right wingers vote for Joe Miller. He needs to be a leader, not an appeaser.
  •  I’m an Independent. I think Mark was pragmatically voting for his constituency. I have to ask, if he lost your vote, who’s the alternative? Joe Miller?
  • Disappointed, but, not surprised living in a red state. He’d get hammered in the next election if he’d voted for it. It sucks though! Democrat.
  • I’m registered non-partisan ( a recovering Republican since Bush I in 88). I’m a multiple gun owner who voted for and supported Mark in 08. I will do neither in 14, and I would like to see him primaried by a real Democrat.
  • Mark Begich has been a name on the Anchorage scene at least as long as I have lived in Alaska, 24 yrs. I lived in the Bush for several years and moved to Anchorage when Mark was beginning his challenge to City Hall. I’ve been in and out of Anchorage since 1996. When I’ve been ‘out’ of town I built a home in Eastern Prince William Sound. When in ‘town’ I have supported Begich. I supported him in ’08 regardless of the Stevens thing. I believe it is time to eliminate old, white men from the US Congress. He has behaved pretty well as a junior Senator, but I draw the line at this bizarre behavior with the gun curbs. I reserve final judgment until the US Senate votes on the President’s budget. Begich still comes across, to me, as a waffle on the Chained-CPI for Seniors and Veterans. So, he gets no more support from me at this time. I’m registered Green Party, but have voted Democratic whenever there is no Green Party candidate on the ballot. And, don’t blame me, I voted for Ralph Nader in ’00. Didn’t matter, did it.
  • I am a far-left Green (though I have issues with their stand on Israel). I am appalled that ANY senator was so deeply in the pocket of the NRA that they cold not do the sane thing and vote for background checks. Much less Begich. Will I vote for him again? I vote in every election. Most of tr time it’s for the lessor of evils. Sadly, given the state of Alaskan politics, I’ll likely have to vote for him again.
  • Depends on the competition, but I will be open to a new candidate. The negatives are piling up, and this one went too far. This is a hard decision for me. I’ve voted for Mark at every opportunity for the last 20 years.
    Oh, and proud lifelong D.
  • Democrat and disgusted
  • I really thought 20 dead children could bring some sanity to our gun laws. I realize he will be in a fight next election, but really background checks? He’s willing to die on the hill of background checks? Unbelievable.
  • With such a close vote, I’m wondering why. It’s not like he would have been a lone-ish liberal for voting yes. I’m thinking things aren’t over yet; that there’s something else in the works. I like what Sen Begich said about working in the long run for real help for the mentally ill. Perhaps this bill was one of those grandstanding us/them things, and he wants mental health to be moved forward rather than everyone saying we don’t have anything to worry about anymore because “those” people can’t buy a gun. I would like to have sustainable help for the mentally ill. I am a lifelong Dem.
  • Disappointment. Dem
  • He’s a blue Senator in a red state. He’s doing what he thinks is best, and even though he voted the way he did this time, he votes better than Miller, Mead, or Murkowski most of time. We can’t get everything we want and I’d rather have some than nothing.
  • sad & disappointed – Democrat
  • VERY disappointed, yet again. Am a registered Dem, but only because I waned to be able to caucas for Obama in’08. B/4 that was Independent for 35 years.
  • Doing the best he can. Democrat.
  • I am one of the few blue Alaskans and I am terribly disappointed and don’t think I can vote for him again. Today counted and he took the low road. I want to add to my comment that I am a gun owner. I am also someone who has worked as a community health aide for 7 years and as emergency responder for 15 years in rural Alaska.
  •  I voted for Ted…
  • I’m a registered Dem, but really more left than that. Very disappointed and ashamed to see where his priorities seem to be.
  • I wish he would join the Republican party. He’s not a Democrat. I am a Democratic Socialist. (I volunteered for his campaign. I donated to his campaign. I voted for him. Never again.)
  • I’m independent. I support Mark, but have no illusions that he is a liberal.
  • In all honesty I’m sickened by it. But if I’m honest, i think he more than others actually voted for his constituency majority. Non-the-less if I vote for him next term it will be with a clothespin over my nose. I’m independent.
  • I am a registered Democrat. Just about the time I start to forgive Mark for his most recent bone-headed move, he does something else that makes me swear I will never vote for him again. He’s dead wrong on this gun thing.
  • Democrat I support Mark on most issues. He’s the most effect D we’ve elected to date.
  • Dem – and I think Begich “plays” it way to safe. Seems like he values his re-election more than his principles.
  • Spineless. And that was my assessment when I voted for him.  I am registered unaffiliated.
  • He is far tooo concerned re what repugs and oil folks want/think. he’s a DINO…and i’m an independent
  • Registered D. i like him. was happy he won in ’08, first democratic AK senator since mike gravell! i wish we would have gone the other way on background checks. i can think of a few other times when i didn’t agree with him. on certain other issues he is spectacular [social security comes to mind]. i’m trying not to drop my support on the basis of a single issue. one of his strong points is he can engage and can evolve, and he listens.
  • NP for affiliation, and he made the vote he had to make for the majority of his constituency. He’s in a rough position, I don’t envy him.
  • Senator Begich is no dummy, and no ideologue. I’d like to hear what he has to say about his vote, but I assume he decided that some greater good – or lesser evil – was served by voting it down. I’ve never known him not to be pragmatic.
  • I understand that this was a largely symbolic vote, but I normally consider symbols to be important. Perhaps the senator does not, and that’s all there is to it. Perhaps it’s something else. I look forward to hearing from him. I am politically unaffiliated.
  • I truthfully believe D’s do better if we don’t attempt to emulate Rs. We won’t win the committed anyway, nor will we attract the uncommitted if perceived as inauthentic. The NRA is promulgating lies in this particular debate. Bring that out to counter argue rather than utilze an appeasement tactic. I just believe that would work better.
  • No party. disappointed lately on a number of fronts.
  • Dem: I have volunteered on his campaigns, given money every time, voted every time. I gave up on Mark back in Oct.
  • Independent. Begich is a Democrat? On paper, maybe.
  • He is in a hard place. A Democrat on a right wing state. This gun control legislation was pretty toothless. He is facing a tough re-election and can’t afford to alienate the gun people of Alaska. Tough place to be. Sometimes pawns (this vote) need to be sacrificed.
  • I would say in some respects he is TOO moderate. I am not affiliated with any party, but am pretty liberal, and though I do believe strongly in the right to bear arms, I also believe VERY strongly that certain records keeping and registering on a national level are necessary. I believe Mark to be to the right of most liberals, even some firearms owners, on that at present, and don’t agree with his position. There are several other matters that he appears at least to be on the conservative side of. I understand the difficulty but he was elected in this so called conservative state, as a democrat.
  • Unlike many politicians, Begich doesn’t come across as evil. I think he tries to represent the views of Alaskans by his words and actions. I am a little concerned that he may be doing so in order to get re-elected and that his approach may change after the next election (assuming he wins), but from what he has displayed over the past year or so, it does appear that he truly wants to represent his constituents. I don’t think he is the smartest politician in Alaska but I think he is intelligent enough. He’s learned a lot about monetary policy over the past few years and I’m sure he’ll learn a lot more over the coming years. Oh, and I am a Republican.
  •  I wish a Real Democrat would run. Unfortunately, he’s still our best option. Mainly, I’m just disappointed. Rabid independent.
  • D, he is elected to represent Alaska, not the party. I think he did a great job in a tough situation.
  • Like so many politicians, he is a total sell-out to the NRA and the gun-manufacturer’s lobby. I wish that was not the case, and I am disappointed that he couldn’t or wouldn’t rise above that and vote for sensible changes in gun laws that do not in any way jeopordize the 2nd amendment to the U.S. constitution. He voted like any Republican would vote on this issue. However, on most every other issue, he is reasonable and rational and votes more in line with my values and priorities, and I will likely vote for him again because of that.
  • Re: the Manchin amendment on background checks, I’m disgusted and disappointed, but the least bit not surprised. In general, if I can applaud Lisa for voting against her party and call it being a moderate, I feel I can’t fault Begich for doing the same. But I will, and it makes me less excited about actively supporting his re-election campaign. That said, we don’t have a deep bench of true-blue-Dems that can win the senate seat in this state, so he’s likely to get my vote if not my support come election time. Left-leaning, non-partisan.
  • When he was running for his first term against Ted, Shannyn had him on her radio show. I thought about calling in to ask him what is he going to do to avoid getting pulled into the “DC Effect”? I wasn’t as concerned with hearing his position on the issues as I was with feeling assured that he was prepared to take precautions against losing who he is (was) to “us”. I never made the call to ask the question and I really wish I had now. I think “it” got to him, and I’m disappointed. I feel like he has sold us out.
  • Undeclared. Begich is pandering. Spineless. Perhaps he’ll pull a Holmes. Wouldn’t shock me.
  • Senator Begich represents the interests of gargantuan oil corporations very effectively. On occasion he will vote in a way designed to appeal to Democrats. I am registered Democrat, am actually far to the Left of them.
  • Have always registered independent, but as I’ve gotten older have shifted to voting almost always for progressives. Not happy that he has gone overboard to keep a good rating with the NRA. He probably saw this as his only way to be reelected. This issue, however, will weigh heavily on my decision when he runs again.
  • Today? Very disappointed in him. Feeling unrepresented.
  • I was a strong supporter until today. Voting to filibuster vote on background checks sealed the deal for me. I am a far left Democrat. I will never vote for him again.Today’s vote shows a spineless yes man that is bought by the NRA. I will write in you or Shannyn.
  • I was a strong supporter of Mark not any more He actions are shameful
  •  I wish I felt confident that he has some core convictions, but I’m running out of faith that that’s true. I don’t know what my options are; can a “real” Democrat get elected in Alaska?
  •  I’m a centrist democrat and a strong supporter. That said, I am disappointed in his vote today regarding background checks. It is one of few areas where I disagree. Sadly, I also believe that if he voted any other way, he would loose reelection.
  •  I will not vote for Begich next election. I will write in Mickey Mouse if the republican candidate is Joe Miller or someone else along that line.

So, buckle up for 2014. It’s going to be a bumpy, but fascinating ride.

Comments

comments

Comments
13 Responses to “Alaska Eyes 2014”
  1. DaninAnc says:

    You say that if Begich acted like a liberal (which he has never pretended to be) his base would turn out in droves and campaign for him, and give him money and vote for him.

    Who then is his base, and where were they when Diane Benson was running for office?

  2. simple mind says:

    One (of many) problems with Alaskan conservatives is their insistence on seeing international oil corporations as our “friends”. It is as if Conoco, BP, and Exxon are our neighbors who we really ought to have over for supper this weekend. Corporations have no soul, no friends, no loyalty. They are legal constructs, and their only duty is to maximize value for their shareholders regardless of what effect that might have on Alaskans. Anyone who says they think corporations care one bit for Alaska is either foolish or dishonest.

    In a way, we progressives have treated Mark Begich the same way. Begich isn’t and has never been, a progressive or even a liberal. If you removed any personal identifying labels from a Murkowski speech and a Begich speech, you’d have a hard time telling whose is whose. Both of them have made a career of being the lesser of two evils in any given election.

    My point is that no one should be surprised at Begich’s vote to prevent debate of the gun bills. Disgusted maybe, but surprised, no. What irks me most is the BS explanation offered by Begich/Murkowski. Essentially, Begikowski says that he/she really is sad about children being gunned down by mentally ill people using assault weapons but gee, the incredibly watered down compromise bill just wouldn’t completely cure gun violence, so we shouldn’t do anything. You see, Begikowski is really for gun control, except when he/she isn’t. Welcome to the world of political double-speak by the lesser of two evils. I’d respect Begikowski more if he/she simply admitted that he/she was afraid of getting a bad grade from the NRA.

  3. Zyxomma says:

    Thanks for sharing the FB comments. They really did run the gamut.

  4. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    Nope, no vote from me for Begich. I’ve not liked him much all along – met him after he was elected and he was a total dweeb. He has angered me several times – this one regarding background checks being the worst. I wrote my letter, and will just not vote at all if the Alaska Dems can’t get their heads out of dark places and actually act like a party.

    Begich will be counting on the “scary whackjob” syndrome to get votes if Joe runs in and wins a primary. Oh gawd – could you just see Milker and Murky as the duo from hell. They would likely be more invested in settling vendettas than serving their state.

    Either way, it’s a bad banana.

  5. northernbassist says:

    I’d like to know who’s on the bench for the Democrats. Scott McAdams is one, but what is he doing now?

    I had high hopes for Chris Tuck and Scott Kawasaki, but they supported too much of the crap spewed out by Chenault and crew this session for me to give them the benefit of the doubt. Pander that hard in the early years of your career and that’s the rep you’re going to carry, guys.

    Beth Kerttula has the brains and the heart to fill any position she wants, but I don’t see her working for the Southcentral/Interior support she’d need for either a run at Congress or the Governor’s Mansion. Fran Ulmer has the experience but she doesn’t seem to have the Alaska focus any more.

    Bill Wielechowski is another possibility, but he’s not well known outside Southeast, either.

    Who else could step up in 2014 and 2016?

  6. Jag24 says:

    I have a serious problem with anyone who agrees to fillibuster anything, and this, considering how so many support background checks for guns WHEN WE HAVE THEM FOR LESS PROBLEMATIC PRODUCTS, LIKE SUDAFED, AND FLYING ON AIRPLANES, is Mark just being a grandstanding two year old. OK, he wasn’t the only one to agree, but my children cannot take drugs even if their friends agree to it.

    Since we are not allowed to vote for “none of the above,” the Democratic party should have a person who agrees to go if he or she gets enough write-ins. I cannot vote for Mark Begich again over him agreeing to fillibuster over this. Let a Republican win “fair n’ square,” and Mark can have his only win be because Ted was under investigation.

    • Jag24 says:

      For you purists who will correct the obvious– let his only win to the US Senate be from a weakness in Ted Steven’s campaign.

      • paddlefoot says:

        I agree Jag,
        I will not vote for him, ever. These politicians don’t need money, and the only reason that I can figure that they want the job is for some pretty selfish reasons. I won’t vote for Joe Miller either. A write in is the only answer in my opinion. We need to have some semblance of civility and integrity in those we choose to elect.

  7. mike says:

    Run Scott Run, you can count on my support and I believe you have a good chance of winning.

    • paddlefoot says:

      I agree Mike, as I stated earlier, I tend to disagree with all the excellent critique and political justification arguments offered by Mudflats. At some point we have to say “enough is enough.” Frankly, I don’t care if a person is elected into office I don’t agree with. We should not vote for the “lesser of the evils” at this point. It only feeds the status quo.

  8. mike from iowa says:

    I can guarantee you I will NOT NOT NOT vote for Mark Begich. I would not even if I could vote for him. His former aides saying he is pro gun begs the question of background checks. No one is taking any guns because of expanded background checks. That is BS with a capital BS. 2014 is a long ways away,so why is it still snowing in iowa in mid-April?

  9. Alaska Pi says:

    I’m neither a political junkie nor stalwart in essential ways .
    I am currently fully engaged with swearing at clouds and kickin’ the wind.
    I have started thinking about 2014 though.
    When I get through downloading, printing, filling out and failing, probably, yet again, maybe not this time, to mail off a change of party affiliation , I’ll maybe think about it all seriously.
    Not ready to.
    Not yet.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Still working out just how ticked off I am at Senator Begich.
      Still waiting for Senator Begich’s full explanation about what and how he thinks the background check amendment added any true burdens to free exercise of 2nd amendment rights.
      I want to know.

      We already know Senator Murkowski saw it as “chipping away” at 2nd amendment rights.
      Am keeping my big fat mouth shut about what I think about all the moderate, centrist,”independent” fraidy cats who gave us her to keep from getting Joe Miller… well, mostly shut.

      Waiting to see what RE- redistricting gives us, especially with State trying, any which way it can, to get us out from under DOJ overview of minority representation rules.

      Waiting to see if we can dislodge Rep Young. Dang near every purported reason to hang onto to him has either evaporated or become moot- so why do we have to keep doing this? Talk about a phony entitlement mentality.

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