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Putting Alaska in play..."Claiming the last frontier".. both Obama and Dean building there.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:54 AM
Original message
Putting Alaska in play..."Claiming the last frontier".. both Obama and Dean building there.
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 01:00 AM by madfloridian
This is an amazing story about the Alaska Democratic party. They must feel that although the odds are great...there is hope from the players that Dean installed and that Obama is continuing.

Claiming the last frontier

Vic Fischer's history as a Democrat in Alaska reaches back to before Alaskans could vote for president, when he was a delegate to the state's Constitutional Convention in 1955 and 1956. It's been a hard slog since then. In 1964, Alaska went for Lyndon Johnson, who won all but six states. That's it in 49 years of statehood.

But on July 8th, Fischer attended the opening of Barack Obama's office in Anchorage, the first such Democratic presidential campaign office anyone can remember, where he found himself surrounded by some 400 people, more than could fit in the building. An Alaska Public Radio Network reporter asked Fischer for his reaction, and for a moment he stammered, uncharacteristically inarticulate, until he simply said, "It's a miracle."


I am remembering back to 2006 when Matt Bai wrote the in-depth article on Howard Dean. Bai traveled with Dean to Alaska. He sort of poohed-poohed the way Dean was building the party there, though over all the article was not bad.

The Inside Agitator


David Turnley/Getty Images, for The New York Times from the NYT link above

Then Dean wanted to know how many organizers the state party now had on the ground, and Teeters told him there was just one: Teeters himself. The D.N.C. created his job along with a position for a communications director last year as part of Deans signature program, known as the 50-state strategy. Under this program, the national party is paying for hundreds of new organizers and press aides for the state parties, many of which have been operating on the edge of insolvency. The idea is to hire mostly young, ambitious activists who will go out and build county and precinct organizations to rival Republican machines in every state in the country. Were going to be in places where the Democratic Party hasnt been in 25 years, Dean likes to say. If you dont show up in 60 percent of the country, you dont win, and thats not going to happen anymore.

In paying for two new staffers, Dean had, virtually overnight, doubled the size of Alaskas beleaguered state party, which used to consist of only an executive director and a part-time fund-raiser. But now, as Dean considered the vastness of the states landscape, he decided that one organizer wasnt enough. In most states, we have three or four, Dean said, thinking out loud. Seems like you should really have more. We should be able to find that money in the budget.

.....In just a few hours, Dean had nicely demonstrated why so many leading Democrats in Washington wish he would spend even more time in Alaska preferably hiking the tundra for a few months, without a cellphone. Its not that Democrats in Congress dont like the idea of building better organizations in the partys forgotten rural outposts. Everyone in Democratic politics agrees, in principle, that party organizations in states like Alaska could use help from Washington to become competitive again, as opposed to the rusted-out machines they have become. But doing so, at this particular moment and in this particular way, would seem to suck away critical resources at a time when every close House and Senate race has the potential to decide who will control the nations post-election agenda, and when the party should, theoretically, be focused on mobilizing its base voters the kind of people who live in big cities and listen religiously to Air America.


Guess what? Look at a couple of polls from there.

Obama coattails in Alaska?

A Democratic-funded poll out of Alaska suggests that Barack Obama's pledge to expand the traditional Electoral College playing field this fall may well find fertile soil in places that haven't seen a competitive presidential race in decades.

John McCain leads Obama 44 percent to 42 percent in Alaska, with Libertarian nominee Bob Barr taking 3 percent, according to the Global Strategy Group survey, which was conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and obtained by The Fix.

(For Senate junkies out there, the poll also showed Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, the likely Democratic nominee, ahead of GOP Sen. Ted Stevens.)


I don't think Dean will stay as chairman after November. I may be wrong, and I hope I am. Here are two interviews by WCAX in Vermont. Videos included. You may have to check them later, as the site seems very slow.

Dean says DNC becomes "political operation" of the WH if Dem wins...won't do that.

Asked to explain his job as DNC chair, Dean says, "Well, we've sort of redefined the job since I took it. This used to be mostly a fundraising operation, now we've put in a political operation."

..."Now, as he wraps up a four-year term, Dean says, "There (have) been a lot of surprises, but one is that I'm learning to deal with Washington. It's very interesting-- much different then Vermont... Well the first thing is you can't say the first thing that comes into you mind and that of course is one of my trademarks as Governor."

Dean says "there was no particular reason to move. It's cheaper to live in Vermont-- and it's disruptive-- I'm a Vermonter anyway".


Dean says "there was no particular reason to move. It's cheaper to live in Vermont-- and it's disruptive-- I'm a Vermonter anyway".

When asked if he would stay on in DC...Dean responded:

This is a very different job when you are working for a Democratic president, you basically become the political operation of the White House and I don't want to do that."

Carlson: "But you might stay on?"

Dean: "I don't know what I'll do, but it's important that we win-- that's what I'm focused on."


When the site is moving faster try to watch both videos, as they are quite in depth. They were done as an interview and tour of the DNC.

I hate to think of Dean stepping down. He was ahead of his time in almost every way.

There is a nice tribute to him at the Hartford Advocate for Thursday.

And when, in December 2003, he said, "The United States is no safer today, after capturing Saddam Hussein, than we were before he was captured," I nearly fainted. Though he was correct, the mere fact that a national leader would have the guts to go right into the Bush-Cheney wheelhouse and toss that flaming bag of feces in their face showed moral courage. But, of course, it was political suicide. Americans can't stand too much honesty too soon.

At the Netroots Nation conference in Austin last week, Paul Krugman made that point with stunning clarity. He told the group of progressive bloggers that the media's failure was not due to politics but for lack of what Dean had in spades: guts. Krugman said their credo was, "It's better to be conventionally wrong than unconventionally right. ... There's something wrong with you if you actually figure this out too early."

Dean figured it all out in 2003. It was too early for his own political aspirations. Fortunately, he was not too late to save the rest of us.


I hope the best for Alaska, and to their credit both Dean and Obama have pushed the thought that we can win there.





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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:57 AM
Response to Original message
1. Well if dems can't get out from under the bridge to nofuckingwhere, wtf!
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jazzjunkysue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 02:05 AM
Response to Reply #1
21. Is that north or south of Dumbfuckistan?
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 01:51 AM
Response to Original message
2. Dem Begich leading by 9 points in Alaska as of yesterday.
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:32 AM
Response to Original message
3. Oh, Vic Fischer, one of my favorite Alaskans ,
a pioneer who had much to do with statehood and putting together Alaska's great Constitution. I just saw him Sunday at a House candidates debate. I love this story.

As for Alaska going Democratic, many people forget that this was once a solidly Democratic state in the early days right after statehood. It was only with the corruption that the oil industry brought that the Republicans were able to take over. Now with the continuing federal investigations and trials that have already sent three Republican state legislators to the federal penitentiary, with Don Young and Ted Stevens under FBI investigation, the people up here are wising up to the fact that the Republicans are BAD NEWS. Most people here are Independent anyway, and when their trust is betrayed, they get really pissed off.

So I'll give Dean some credit, but the Republicans were their own worst enemies here. They may yet find a way to pull this election out of the bag, but it's not looking good for them.


Kind of off the subject, but I'm curious. Was Terry McAuliffe still the chairman in 2006, because Diane Benson, our Progressive Democratic candidate for the House, got NO help that year. She ended up getting 40% of the vote anyway, but she quite possibly could have won if she had had a little more backing. All of the funds went to Tony Knowles' losing gubernatorial race instead. This may have been the state party's fault, but Diane's campaign was begging for some financial help from the party and getting nothing.
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JeffR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:55 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Always good to hear what's happening up there.
Especially with Diane Benson, who is just so damn impressive.

BTW, Dean took over in February 2005, but it's safe to say that that simply didn't give him enough time to turn the DNC around for the midterms, despite the 50-state strategy. I have a feeling things will work differently this year.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:19 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. No, you can blame the DCCC under Rahm. Don't you remember?
He is the one who came to Florida, pushed good Democrats out, crushed their fundraising...and put in his own guys.

I remember two, maybe 3 of them.

He is the one who hated Dean's plan, and cussed at him in his office.

Blame him, there's been enough blame on the wrong people.

Oh, and yes, if there were a good president, good GOP person in your state....then Democrats could not do as well. But at least we are there to take advantage.

You do not have to give Dean any credit at all. Your decision.
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Oh, I'm most happy to blame Rahm,
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 01:01 PM by Blue_In_AK
and, unfortunately, he's gotten into our politics again. While Diane Benson couldn't get a red cent out of the DCCC in 2006, Rahm and the DLC have been pumping lots of money into the campaign of her opponent Ethan Berkowitz in this year's primary. In 2006 Diane was the ONLY one to take on Don Young -- before the investigations and his corruption being exposed -- and bloodied him up really good, much to everyone's surprise. What thanks does she get? Instead of support from the party, they decide to run what they call a more "viable" candidate against her. While I don't have anything against Ethan particularly -- at least he says all the right things -- I'm very suspicious of the amount of outside money that he's getting, and I have a strong suspicion that he will be "owned" by the party operatives, who, as we all know, don't always make the best decisions.

While Ethan may end up winning the primary, it's my guess that he won't do as well as Diane would against the Republican nominee, whoever it is, in the general. Diane has a broad appeal to the independents, unaffiliateds, Greens and other progressives here who will vote in the general, but may not pick up a Democratic ballot in the primary since Republicans get one ballot with only Republicans on it, and the Dems and everybody else get a different one. Some people may be more interested in seeing that Don Young and Ted Stevens are not the Republican nominees than they are in seeing that Diane is the Democratic one. Since Ethan was a Democratic state legislator and is strongly associated with the party, he may not get the support of the independents. A lot depends on who the Republican nominee is.

I'm tired of progressive candidates being disrespected by the party insiders. As JeffR noted, Diane Benson is a remarkable candidate, fully deserving of the support of her party, but since she once ran for governor on the Green ticket in 2002, or maybe because she's a Native woman of strong integrity who can't be bought, she is marginalized.


I am a fan of Dr. Dean, and I give him props for helping out in Alaska, but I stand by my original opinion that the Republicans here have done themselves in.


Diane, Ethan and Don Young at a recent candidate debate. The other two Republican nominees were unable to attend.


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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:15 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. I remember it happened to Cegelis as well.
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 02:49 PM by madfloridian
She was running for the 2nd time, and Rahm and company put another in to take her on. It happens over and over.

That's why I said blame the DCCC...they are still doing it under new chairmanship. Maybe a little better, but the candidates are handpicked and the others ignored as if they did not exist.

The DSCC does the same thing.

My point being we could take advantage because we were prepared in areas we are not usually found in.
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:37 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. I do not contribute to the DCCC or DSCC
when they come begging, and I always tell them why. As long as they continue to support mainstream, "go along to get along" Democratic candidates against the ones who would promote real change, they won't get a penny from me. In the House race here, Ethan professes not to know about Rahm's unsavory reputation and is just happy for the financial support -- of course -- but I think someone who is running for Congress should make it a priority to know where the funds are coming from and what the "agenda" is. He's a savvy politician, so my guess is he does know, but he's choosing to ignore it, or believes that he can resist their influence. Maybe he can, but it's tough when any group, PAC, party organization or whatever, has that financial leverage.
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JeffR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:38 AM
Response to Reply #8
20. Wow, wish I'd seen this earlier.
A crop of Diane from this shot should be all over her advertising. Brilliant capture.

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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:43 PM
Response to Reply #20
25. It's actually at the top of her website, JeffR
or at least it has been for the past few days. If you go there, you'll see it -- also my photo of Diane riding on the Democratic Party float in the Independence Day parade is there. I've sort of fallen into the unofficial campaign photographer role. :) No matter what the outcome of this election, it has been a real joy to work on the campaign. Diane's just an outstanding human being, and people may get tired of hearing me say that, and shake their heads and say she doesn't stand a chance against Ethan and the DCCC/DLC money, but I will not give up.
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MarjorieG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:46 PM
Response to Reply #3
18. Same with Steve Harrison in NY, 43%, no help.
Now when easier, put in machine candidate this year to full DCCC support for primary challenge. Kinda like Berkowitz.

How are the polls, etc, for my heroine, Diane?
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:25 AM
Response to Reply #18
19. Eerily like Berkowitz.
Edited on Thu Jul-24-08 01:27 AM by Blue_In_AK
He had every opportunity to run for the House in 2006, but instead ran for Lt. Gov. with Tony Knowles, which is where all the party money went -- to the Democratic establishment candidates. Diane was way out in front regarding Don Young's corruption, long before the news stories broke, and was campaigning hard on it. If she had had support, she would have kicked his ass because her momentum was so strong at the end. Her campaign was told by the pollsters after the election that if she had had two more weeks, she would have beat him. It's sad.

But as far as how your heroine (and mine), Diane, is doing in the polls, I haven't seen any lately. What is significant though is that on the Anchorage Daily News blogs, there is hardly ever a negative word spoken about her, while all kinds of insinuations and epithets are thrown around about the other candidates, including Berkowitz. People comment on Diane often, but it's overwhelmingly positive, so that gives me some hope. Berkowitz is seen by many as not "Alaskan" enough since he arrived here after the Pipeline construction and after the EXXON VALDEZ spill. These experiences kind of bind us old-timers, across party lines, so for us, Diane is the genuine candidate because she was a Teamster driving the Haul Road during the pipeline construction, and she helped clean up the spill. She's a Native woman who came up through Alaska's foster care system. How much more Alaskan could you get?

I've seen Ethan called "the San Francisco treat," since he went to Berkeley Law School, and comments about how California already has 53 (or whatever) representatives, why should we give them another one? It's probably unfair, but for a lot of people it seems to matter.

Thank you, Marjorie, for your continuing support. It really means a lot to us.
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DCKit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:26 AM
Response to Original message
5. So Alaska has Republic representation because we let them?
How sad is that? Don't the people deserve better?

They're going to have to dedicate a monument to Dr. Dean when it's all said and done.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:02 PM
Response to Original message
7. New link to the videos from WCAX in Vermont
Don't know what happened to the links, they worked last night then stopped.

This is part 1 with video and partial transcript... part 2 is at the bottom of the article.

http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?s=8204952
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:14 PM
Response to Reply #7
14. Oh, well, the link worked fine earlier.
:shrug:
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:14 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. Working again now. Great two part interview.
including tour of the DNC
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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:51 PM
Response to Original message
11. I don't think there's Obama coattails in Alaska so much as Begich coattails for Obama...
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 04:52 PM by SteppingRazor
if Alaska goes blue, it'll be because of the desire to throw the bums out in Congress. Both Don Young (assuming he even survives the primary against the Lt. Gov.) and Ted Stevens face serious opposition, and I think Alaska is one of the few states where the down-ticket races will actually help Obama, rather than the opposite. If Berkowitz and Begich get people out to the polls to remove Young and Stevens, then Obama's got a great chance here.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:24 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Well, 400 at the opening of Obama HQ is a good start, though.
:-)
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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Oh, no doubt!
:thumbsup:
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:13 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. It is not a foregone conclusion
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 07:20 PM by Blue_In_AK
that Berkowitz will be the Democratic nominee for House -- Diane Benson continues to run a strong campaign -- but the bottom line is that polls have shown that either of them can beat Don Young. I haven't seen any poll results pitting each of them against Sean Parnell, who likely will beat Young in the primary.

I think your analysis of the downticket candidates helping Obama rather than the other way around is likely pretty accurate, though. I'm not saying that Obama doesn't raise some enthusiasm here, but the downticket races seem to be generating the most discussion.
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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #15
23. God bless ya for the enthusiasm, but I really doubt Benson will make it out of the primaries...
it's not a forgone conclusion that Berkowitz is the Dem. nominee, but Benson's a huge long shot, no?
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:39 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. It depends on who you ask.
If you're only talking to Anchorage people, maybe, but Diane has a lot of support in the Bush and towns away from the Railbelt, and I also have heard just recently that she has strong support in Fairbanks. There is even a "Republicans for Benson" group. Nobody has done any polls that I've seen, so there aren't any firm figures. It's true that Ethan has a lot more money, but that doesn't necessarily mean much here at this point, especially with the corruption issues that we've been dealing with. In 2006, Sarah Palin was vastly outspent by all of her opponents on both sides, and yet won the governor's seat handily. Alaska's small population is an advantage in that more personal one-on-one time is possible, and when people have a chance to interact with Diane in that way, they are almost always impressed.

So I am not giving up hope. She is in this for all the right reasons, in my mind -- not for her personal gain but for the people and for the principles that she believes in.
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 09:25 PM
Response to Original message
16. K&R!
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jazzjunkysue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 02:08 AM
Response to Original message
22. Non-starter, but worth it, just for the GOP shudder factor.
The news will deflate more than a few over-confidant senators.
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #22
26. I'm not sure why you say this is a non-starter.
Are you in Alaska? Do you know what the political climate is here now? There has been a sea change since 2004, and the Dems are in a very good position to pick up the House and Senate seat, no matter what happens in the presidential race. And as I said somewhere else, McCain only has a single-digit lead over Obama, which shouldn't be too difficult to overcome.

A lot of people are really sick and tired of Republicans up here, and the majority of the registered voters are independent and unaffiliated.
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jazzjunkysue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 01:15 AM
Response to Reply #26
27. I hope you're right, but, it's certainly not worth too much of Obama's time
to travel up there. The odds in alaska are among the worst in the country.

Basically, if he takes alaska, that would probably give McGramps Texas and South carolina, and not much else.

That would probably be the most lop-sided election in history.

I hope he takes it. I really do.
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 01:57 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. Well, if it's ever going to happen, this would be the year. n/t
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