I was staying away from election blog posting, but I can't leave this one out, because it's personal. A 42-year-old woman has just been given the job of running one of the most energy-rich states in the nation.
And I knew her in high school. I posted about this earlier here, when she beat incumbent governor (and the former senator) Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary. That was a tough race, but she had to fight this one too, I bet. Democrat Tony Knowles is a very well-known state politician, former mayor of Anchorage, and a former governor too.
Sarah got 49 percent of the vote last time I checked, and Knowles got 41 percent. More votes may have been counted since then, tho. I'm linking to the Anchorage Daily News story about her win, and last week or so, I found a really neat long piece on Sarah, on Pajamas Media. Gotta go find that again. Nope. What a badly designed site. The article isn't in there, doesn't have a permalink. E-VILE!
I liked that article because it talked about how her competitiveness as a high school basketball player brought her on this path. As somebody who often had the job of guarding Sarah Heath, point guard to point guard, I can vouch for that.
Truth is, Sarah was a better basketball player than I was. I think I even played against her in junior high too, and I think you're allowed to be just a so-so player in junior high, so we were probably more on par then, esp. since she was a year younger. The year after I graduated, she went with Wasilla High to the state basketball tournament, went up against the favored big Anchorage teams, and little old Wasilla won state, 1982. (I still feel whiney because the Wasilla team would all go as a group to summer basketball camp in Hawaii, and our school, Palmer High, never had the money or the leadership to do anything that cool).
I like how she's run as an outsider and a reformer on the GOP ticket. I got an Alaska buddy I may get blogging soon, and he might take a different tack, but he went to school with her too, at Wasilla High.
Does she know enough about politics, what they went after her on during the campaign? I don't know. Career-groomed politicians scare me. Citizen politicians, like citizen journalists, public intellectuals, that's far more interesting to me. And her dad was a high school teacher. I used to see him around school too, back in the day.
Candidate of change resonated with voters
Published: November 7, 2006
Last Modified: November 8, 2006 at 05:38 PM
Voters chose change over experience Tuesday night, making Republican Sarah Palin Alaska’s next governor and the first woman to hold the job.
On a night of political upheaval across the country, Democrat Tony Knowles couldn’t stop the wave of anti-establishment momentum that carried Palin from her small town roots in Wasilla, past incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in the primary and into Alaska government’s top job.
With 98 percent of the precincts counted this morning, Palin had clinched the race with 48.7 percent of the vote to Knowles' 40.5 percent. Independent Andrew Halcro had 9.6 percent.
Palin, 42, claimed victory late Tuesday.
Palin won with lukewarm support from her own party establishment. But by promising new energy and a fresh face, she whupped a well-known, longtime Alaska politician for the second time in a row.
Earlier, Palin told supporters at the Captain Cook hotel that the campaign had drawn on all political persuasions, regions and walks of life. “I think this is unlike anything Alaska has seen before.” She added in an interview: “If it holds, it truly is a mandate for change. No more politics as usual. We started this campaign talking about trust and transparency. And that’s where we’re ending it.”
One of the Palin faithful, Kevin Peterson, who wore a pro-Palin sandwich board while running Mount Marathon last summer, offered this on the growing political power of the Mat-Su valleys: “People always thought of Wasilla as a small bedroom community, hicks. We’re not hicks. There are a lot of smart people out there, and Sarah’s one. Real, true Alaskan.”
[I like seeing the Mat-Su Valley empowered, but I'm not saying I find all of Sarah's positions palatable. Alaska tends to elect Republicans with a Libertarian streak. Tony Knowles I remember as a lukewarm governor. I don't know if Sarah will do better, because Juneau has been corrupt for so long, and that's gotta be tough to go against. If Sarah had come through as a young Democrat instead of a Republican, would she be electable in Alaska? I don't think she'd even land a spot on the ballot.
It looks like the Democrat (Knowles) outspent the Republican (Palin), in this race. That says a lot, both in how the big money folks wanted Knowles in, and also how lukewarm the support was for Sarah in her own party. But she won.
Strategically, she took the best route, but here's the bit I don't like:]
Unlike Palin, Knowles and Halcro both support abortion rights, stem cell research, benefits for same-sex couples and a rural preference for subsistence hunting and fishing rights, for example.
Here's a bit from a different Anchorage Daily News article on how people react to her:
Palin's opponents may have scoffed at her as a political lightweight who spoke in vague generalities. But voters didn't buy those barbs. They elected Alaska's youngest governor -- and the first female in the state to hold the office.
Torrie Ruhle of Anchorage was among the early converts, although she would have been OK with Knowles, too, had he won, she said. But she's glad her official vote paid off. She likes the fact that Palin is a mother, like herself. And she's looking forward to having a leader with "more feminine touches."
Most of all, she believes Palin is willing to work with everyone, regardless of their political leanings.
Palin's win called up some mixed feelings in Dave Klein, a biology professor emeritus with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Klein, who voted for Knowles, said he worries that Palin doesn't have enough governmental experience. Also nagging at him are her fundamentalist beliefs and anti-abortion views.
But Palin stood up to Republican heavies, including Gov. Frank Murkowski, whipping him in the GOP primary. She repeated the same feat with seasoned pros like Knowles and independent Andrew Halcro, a former Republican state legislator.
"She was obviously able to pull off an amazing win for a woman who had relatively little governmental experience," Klein said. "She's a very intelligent woman, and she certainly demonstrated she was someone who would not go along with Gov. Murkowski, and that demonstrates something."
Susan Steele lives in Wasilla, Palin country. Even though she admires Palin and everything "she stands for," Steele voted for Knowles. She thought Palin might be too naive to deal with Alaska's big players. She wasn't sure she could hold her own in negotiations with oil companies over a proposed natural gas pipeline from the North Slope.
"But again, she beat Murkowski, she beat Knowles, so maybe this is a wonderful thing," Steele said.