Monday, July 31, 2006

Cuba Libre!

Now, that I have a blog, I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to say some things on my mind. I promise I will not be doing this much, and I will mostly be sticking to the Race of the Day thing, but the novelty has not worn off yet...

First, of all, I told my parents I created a blog and they had to call me to see how they could look at it and after taking a few minutes to explain it, they seem impressed by this whole internet thing.

Hi Mom and Dad! If you are reading this on a daily basis, please stop....

More significantly, the news out of Cuba is that Fidel Castro is underdoging intenstinal surgery and has at least temporarily handed off power to his brother Raul.

Television is showing scenes of dancing in the streets of Miami with Cuban refugees justly taking satistifcation in the knowledge that the end may be nearing for one of the worst tyrants of our time.

I hate to ever wish ill to anyone but Fidel Castro is a murderer, a terrorist, who has been responsible and remains responsible for so much suffering in Cuba. The world will be a better place witout him. Whenever that is.

Raul Castro probably will not be any better, but the eventual passing of Fidel will be heartening to many people, and Cuba will inch closer to its eventual liberation.

And it will be one hell of a vacation destination!

Take Out Blago

It's my second day of having this blog now and things are going well. The novelty has yet to wear off and it is maybe a little addictive. We will have to see how long that lasts.

Well, I will return tomorrow and try to find the time to talk about that barnburner in the Grand Canyon State. Tomorrow is the primary in Kansas and Thursday is the primary in Tennessee, so I am going to have to try to be around to discuss those results.

Now, with 99 days to go, I am getting ready to go do some phone banking tonight for our (hopefully) new Governor Judy Baar Topinka.

Excited is not even the word!

Alaska Governor Race

Race of the Day

July 31, 2006
99 Days until Election Day

Alaska Governor

Status: Republican Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Tossup (R)

After spending over 20 years as a popular United States Senator, Republican Frank Murkowski accomplished the task of being elected Governor and by all accounts, his term has been a political disaster. It would now take nothing short of a political miracle, for Murkowski to win another four years in office.

The fact that Murkowski is running at all for reelection came as a surprise to many who figured that he would be content with retiring and enjoying the fact that his daughter Lisa, whom Governor Murkowski appointed to fill his vacant U.S. Senate seat was able to win a high-profile Senate race in 2004 against Democrat Tony Knowles, a popular two term former Governor, even though Lisa Murkowski was trailing in the polls throughout that campaign.

Some are even speculating that Murkowski is not really intent on sticking in a campaign until the end and that his announcement may just be a ploy to gain traction with his state’s legislature in order to accomplish parts of his agenda, without the stigma of being a lame duck. Those people believe that sooner or later before the primary in three weeks, Murkowski will drop out of the race for the good of the party.

If he stubbornly does intend to remain in the race, it appears extremely unlikely that the veteran vote getter will win his party’s nomination. He might even finish third. Polling has shown him trailing former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin by a wide margin in the GOP primary and even trailing former State Senator John Binkley, the other major candidate in the Republican field. As far as I can tell, it would be unprecedented for an incumbent Governor or Member of Congress in either body, to finish in third place in a party’s primary, especially somebody who has been on the scene as long as Murkowski.

Whoever emerges from the GOP primary, is all but certain to face off against Tony Knowles, the former Governor, who will be attempting another comeback after his 2004 Senate defeat. While Knowles would be an extremely heavy favorite to unseat the incumbent Murkowski, his prospects against another Republican are far more uncertain.

A somewhat recent poll showed Knowles with a lead over Palin that was only in the single digits and with him being held to well under 50 percent of the vote. That is fairly significant considering that Knowles has to be a far more known quantity in Alaska than Palin. Such numbers would indicate that Alaska has a strong Republican lean which would put a fresh-face for the party in a very promising position for a general election, despite the fact that Knowles is by far the strongest candidate the Democrats could nominate.

One thing to keep in mind about Alaska is the fact that Democrats regularly under perform on Election Day as compared to their position in the polls. In the ‘90s, Knowles won one race for Governor with just a plurality of the vote against divided Republican opposition and barely reached a majority running for reelection with the same divided Republican opposition factor, while the polls had indicated that he had a larger lead going into both elections. In 2002, Frank Murkowski was believed to be in a race for Governor that was going to go down to the wire with the Democrat and he wound up winning comfortably. As mentioned, Lisa Murkowski trailed Knowles in the polls for the entire 2004 campaign before pulling through on Election Night. This circumstance can be attributed to the vastly superior GOP state party apparatus and voter turnout operation.
If I may look at this from a personal standpoint, it is extremely unusual for me to hope for an incumbent to be defeated in the primary, and while who serves as Governor of Alaska would not really have much impact on those of us living in 49 states, a partisan Republican like myself would hate to see the Democrats take any office from GOP control. The simple fact is that it is hard to see how Murkowski would be able to survive a challenge from Knowles.

Most likely though, Murkowski will either drop out of the race or be defeated in a primary, and while the political situation and the fact that Knowles is well-known and has won two statewide races (while also having lost two) means that the election, at least until the primary is resolved, and until we see if Republicans can unite behind a nominee, and not have other Republicans on the ballot in November, the race will have to be considered a tossup.

Still though, the nomination of Sarah Palin would be the best bet for Republicans who want to hold on to the Governorship of Alaska. If she is the nominee, it makes it far less likely than a former Republican State Representative will continue an Independent campaign and her nomination would allow this heavily Republican state to cast a vote for the party, without the taint of whatever it is that they are upset with Frank Murkowski over.

It will not be easy to defeat Knowles, but if Palin (or even Binkley) is able to emerge from an August primary having unseated an incumbent Republican Governor and a legendary political name, the momentum might be enough to take out a former Democrat Governor, who has always had to rely in the past on a good deal of political luck.

Palin campaign link:

2006 Governor races predicted thus far: 0 D, 2 R

Predicted Gubernatorial totals for 2007 thus far: 8 D, 8 R