Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Alaska Governor Race

Race of the Day

Alaska Governor

July 27, 2010
98 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2008 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Likely Republican

It has definitely been a politically tumultuous eight year period in the politics of the Last Frontier State, but Republican dominance appears to remain intact and polling indicates that the GOP is on its way to a third consecutive Gubernatorial victory, albeit with three different Governors.

Just two years ago at this time, Sean Parnell was the state's Lt. Governor and was locked in a tough battle for the state's Republican at large Congressional nomination against the veteran incumbent Don Young, who was facing ethical questions. Parnell was being backed by the state's popular new Governor Sarah Palin and many expected him to be on his way to Washington, but in a bit of an upset, Young narrowly edged him in the August primary. In fact, the count when on for quite a while, even as Palin was catapulted on to the national scene as the GOP running mate of Presidential nominee John McCain.

Ultimately of course, Parnell conceded his House primary race and the McCain-Palin ticket fell short, meaning he would not be elevated to the office of Governor in 2009. However, last summer, Governor Palin shocked many by resigning her office and Parnell became Governor after all. Before that, it was assumed that Palin may not seek a second term, and that Parnell would be the odds on favorite to succeed her. The resignation though gave him a head start on incumbency.

Even before Palin became a national political figure, she was a divisive one within the state GOP, having taken on the establishment in a "mavericky" way, including having defeated an incumbent Republican Governor in the 2006 primary. Some of those divisions still linger, as the Palin backed Parnell faces opposition in the upcoming August primary. Former State House Majority Leader Ralph Samuels and former Valdez Mayor Bill Walker are the Governor's main primary foes. Nonetheless, polling has indicated Parnell is a heavy favorite to win the primary.

Once that is complete, the Republican winner will face of the winner of the Democrats' contest between favorite Ethan Berkowitz, a former State House Minority Leader, who as Parnell's Lt. Governor counterpart, went down to defeat in 2006 in Palin's victory over ex-Democrat Governor Tony Knowles. Then, in 2008, he also lost a statewide contest for Congress to Don Young. Berkowitz is facing primary opposition from Hollis French, who was one of Palin's biggest political critics during her stint in Juneau. Polls show that Berkowitz would be the stronger candidate in a general election, but that Parnell would still have a significant edge.

While Democrats did win a couple Gubernatorial offices in the 1990s over divided Republican general election opposition and a U.S. Senator was elected in 2008 under unusual circumstances, the state's strong Republican lean remains and in fact, the GOP always manages to run even stronger on Election Day in the state than polling indicates. All that should bode well for the Republican nominee; most likely Sean Parnell, who has seen his career take numerous twists and turns over the past couple years.

Parnell campaign link:


2010 Governor races predicted thus far: 0 D, 2 R
Predicted Gubernatorial totals thus far: 7 D, 8 R