Election 2008: Alaska
Our next stop on the election roundup takes us to our 49th State, Alaska.
President: Alaska has a long history of supporting Republican candidates. In the 50 years since it became a state it has only supported a Democrat once, and that was in the 1964 LBJ landslide. Some have speculated that Bob Barr could tap into the strong Libertarian base and hurt McCain but he still is likely to carry the state.
Senate: Ted Stevens (R) has been representing Alaska in the Senate longer than some of his colleagues have been alive. He was appointed to the seat in 1968 and has won re-election seven times. Although he is 85 years old he is a candidate for re-election. Under normal circumstances this would mean another easy win for the veteran, but these are not normal circumstances.
Stevens has run into several problems, beginning with his efforts to bring billions of dollars in pork barrel spending, including the infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’. But that has only been the smallest of his difficulties as he has come under serious investigation by the FBI for ethics violations relating to his ties to the Veco corporation. Allegations that he took bribes in exchange for helping to promote their agenda.
The ethical issues, his age and the image of a DC politician have badly hurt Stevens and brought out strong challengers in both the primary and general elections. In the primary he faces State Representative David Cuddy. Cuddy is not the strongest possible challenger but the anger to Stevens could push Cuddy over the top on August 26th.
In November the GOP winner will face Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, son of the late Nick Begich who represented Alaska in the House.
Alaska is a strongly conservative state but if Stevens wins the primary it could turn to Begich.
House: Incumbent Don Young (R) has seemingly done the impossible by looking even more crooked than Stevens. Like Stevens he has been in Washington for decades (coming to DC in 1973). He has also become burdened by images of a corrupt, pork barrel obsessed political hack.
Young has drawn two challengers in the GOP primary. The strongest is Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, a candidate who was also encouraged to run for the Stevens seat. State Representative LeDoux. The contest here seems to be between Young and Parnell, and with popular governor Sarah Palin backing Parnell, he may have a slight edge.
Democrats are making a strong effort for the seat this year with two candidates in the primary. State Representative Ethan Berkowitz is candidate of the party leadership but author Diane Benson ran in 2006 and held Young to 57% of the vote.
If Young wins the primary the race is probably a toss up but if Parnell prevails he would have an edge in November.