The Trail : A blog on the 2006 Alaska governor's race by Kyle Hopkins

About the blog: The race to become Alaska's next governor is on and it's about to get muddy. Grab your boots and follow the Daily News along the winding campaign trail.


Blog : Alaska Politics

Happy trails - 11/8/2006 8:05 pm

Forty-two - 11/8/2006 8:01 pm

Election hangover - 11/8/2006 10:25 am

Tonight (updated) - 11/7/2006 12:18 pm

Full Moon - 11/6/2006 7:11 pm

Fishy photos? - 11/6/2006 12:08 pm

Smelly deal? - 11/5/2006 3:31 pm

Sunday best (part two) - 11/5/2006 3:18 pm

Happy trails

The blog’s running out of steam, and so am I.

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who visited, and especially to those who posted comments. I think your posts were 90 percent of the appeal.

Let’s do this again some time.

In parting, we got a kick out of seeing the blogger names everyone chose. Six favorites:

-- monkeyking
-- QueenBee
-- eatrealfish
-- ilovelucy
-- Chugger
-- Turdball

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First of all: Palin is the state’s youngest governor yet. Bill Egan and Steve Cowper were both 44 when they took office. She’s 42.

Also, reporter Tom Kizzia found that yesterday’s turnout actually wasn’t that great. The total number of votes cast was 206,232, which was the smallest total since 1990.

On to the press conferences:

Knowles and Berkowitz have little to say about whether they’ll run again. They talked with pride about their campaign, and Knowles said he did think Halcro pulled votes from him because they believe in so many of the same things.

As for future races, Berkowitz joked that: “Any time Andrew wants to go one and one, I’ll take him.”

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Election hangover

These post-election Wednesdays are traditionally a little slow-starting, but there's still plenty of day-after analysis to do. Knowles has a press conference in half an hour, and I'll try and post his comments later today.

I'll make it clear when I post the last comment of the blog, which won't be long now. Still some work to do first.

Anyone have thoughts on how the election played out by region?

Doesn't Halcro sound ready to run again?

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Tonight (updated)

The polls close soon and Julia's got our election night blog up and running.

Here we go.

What's it look like at the polling places? Anyone plan on going to election central tonight in Anchorage?

You'll be able to post comments here all night, but the real action will be on our main page, where we'll post photos and election results while reporter Julia O'Malley will write rolling updates.

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Full Moon

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, who won his own three-man race in 2003 against Rick Mystrom and George Wuerch, said the Andrew Halcro vote could break down like this:

If Halcro gets small numbers tomorrow, then he’ll be pulling more from Palin.

That’s because people know what they’re getting with Knowles, who already served two terms. So there may be people who always knew they weren’t going to vote Knowles, but maybe aren’t into Palin either. Halcro gives them that third option, taking away votes that would otherwise belong to Palin.

But if Halcro gets a high percentage of votes tomorrow, that could hurt Knowles, Begich said. That would be a sign that people just wanted something different and are willing to take chances rather than vote for Knowles – the known quantity.

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Fishy photos?

Both the Knowles and Palin campaigns used questionable photos in advertising recently.

First, the Knowles campaign sent out press releases Saturday and Sunday, drawing attention to a photo that appears in one of Palin’s campaign mailers.

The Palin mailer is critical of Knowles’ record on commercial fishing and touts Palin’s plans for the industry. One of the pictures on the flier is of two fishermen in a skiff full of cod.

Knowles supporters found a similar picture - same fisherman, same fish, same camera angle - on a stock photography Web site called, with the caption: “cod fishing west coast of Newfoundland”.

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Smelly deal?

This statement arrived at noon from the Knowles campaign:

"With outgoing Gov. Frank Murkowski threatening to take unilateral action on a gasline contract in the waning days of his administration, Tony Knowles today called on North Slope producers to refuse to sign any contract presented to them.
"Knowles asked fellow gubernatorial candidates Sarah Palin and Andrew Halcro to join him so the matter is properly left to the next administration and legislature to decide."
"'Any contract signed just before midnight will always have the smell of a bad deal that wasn’t in the bes

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Sunday best (part two)

The Anchorage Baptist Temple held its candidates’ day today – a tradition at the church, where most everybody who is running for anything shows up to listen to Pastor Jerry Prevo and then meet the congregation in the lobby on the Sunday before an election.

Senate candidate Earl Mayo’s campaign gave away tiny 1.2 ounce jars of mayonnaise that read: “Life is better with Mayo” on the lid. Don Young’s camp set up a booth with a 3-by-2 foot drawing of Young’s face, and buttons that say: “I’m a Young woman” or “I’m a Young man.”

Last time, it was Aug. 20 and Tony Knowles and Sarah Palin sat next to each other in the pews, chatting. Now, after going on to clobber their opponents in the Aug. 22 primary elections, they were back, alongside U.S. House candidates Young and Diane Benson, and a cluster of state house and senate hopefuls.

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'It's going to be madness'

Anchorage pollster and researcher Jean Craciun made a terrifying comment today.

She says the gube race is close enough that we could go home Tuesday night without knowing who won.

“It’s going to be madness … we’re not going to have a governor for awhile.”

Knock wood. Not that a tight race wouldn’t be high drama, but everyone involved in the campaigns seems to be looking forward to getting some rest.

Craciun also questioned why issues like the war in Iraq and global warming – a big part of the national debate -- didn’t get more play in the race.

“Why didn’t any of the campaigns get in on any of that?

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Final push

The Knowles and Palin campaigns are rolling out their last commercials. Sounds like both camps have ads that are critical of the other, while Halcro said his final TV spot began Thursday.

He spent the morning judging high school debates. The students argued whether it’s justified for victims of domestic violence to use deadly force.

The other night, after so many gube debates, he described these judging duties as a kind of comfort activity.

“It was very cool for once, sitting on the other side of the table.”

Palin and Knowles signwavers competed for attention -- and honks -- from drivers, and volunteers at both candidates’ Midtown headquarters were busy lighting up the phones, reminding people to vote.

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Ivan Moore

Anchorage pollster Ivan Moore said today that Palin’s stance on issues like stem cell research, creationism and game management have been underplayed in this election, and that if Knowles loses it will have been a mistake not to focus on them more. Much of Knowles’ message has centered on his experience and his plans for a gas pipeline.

“Experience didn’t win the race for Binkley and Murkowski in the primary, did it?” he said.

As for Halcro, Moore said Halcro appeared to be pulling more votes from Knowles recently, and that there had recently been suggestions that Knowles should have looked to reach out to Halcro voters by telling them he would find a place for Halcro in his administration.

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Furrowed brow

Be sure to check out Anchorage Press reporter Amanda Coyne's Halcro profile. Click here.

My favorite line: "Onstage, he (Halcro) often looks pained, his brow furrowed, his dark eyes intense, as though Alaskans' failure to plan for a rainy day is hurting him right now."

By the way: The Knowles campaign just held a women's rally at Cafe Del Mundo, headlined by the wives of Knowles, Berkowitz and Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich -- Susan Knowles, Mara Kimmel and Deborah Bonito. In a couple hours, the Palin campaign has a "United Women for Sarah" signwaving get-together in the Sears parking lot, according to their Web site.

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New poll (updated)

Thanks for the heads-up.
Rasmussen has even newer numbers than those posted below. They're still on the firm's pay site, but there's a round-up here at

They're reporting Nov. 1 numbers of:
Palin: 48 percent
Knowles: 43 percent
Undecided: 4 percent

(I checked on the Rasmussen pay site to verify.)

A recent Rasmussen Reports poll has Palin’s lead at two percentage points over Knowles, with 12 percent choosing “other.”

In this case, “other” is presumably Halcro. The last few Rasmussen polls have ignored Halcro.

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One of the more pointed exchanges in last night’s debate came when Halcro criticized Knowles' efforts on crafting a long range fiscal plan and said the governor was too seldom engaged with the Legislature. Knowles disputed that.

Halcro said that when he was in the Legislature, a Democratic lawmaker told him Knowles hadn’t been in the lawmaker’s office in six years.

Halcro had test-driven this comment before. He’s said it to me. It appeared in the Anchorage Press profile that hit the stands the morning of the debate.

But Knowles challenged Halcro - who was this lawmaker?

“Ethan Berkowitz,” Halcro replied.

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Predict the future

OK, that was the last debate.
Who wants to go on record with their election night predictions?
Percentages, please

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Live debate (updated 9:37 p.m.)

9:37 p.m.
And, we're done. Workers are folding up all the chairs. The candidates are milling around.

They got a few parting shots in, tho, when asked if they'd hire either of their opponents for a job if elected.

While Knowles said he doesn't talk about hiring until he gets the job himself, Palin said something about hiring Knowles as a chef and Halcro as a statistician.
Halcro said: "I’m sure I could find a place for both Tony and Sarah, probably at the kids table at Thanksgiving dinner."

9:23 p.m.
As Halcro and Knowles go back and forth on a long range fiscal plan and whether not Ethan Berkowitz told Halcro that Knowles didn't visit him enough when both were in Juneau, Green Party candidate David Massie can be seen high above the studio audience, photographing himself through a window.

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More on the e-mails

A little more on the e-mail chain debate that has both Palin and the Knowles campaign expressing outrage today.

The Knowles camp held a press conference before noon, with Knowles campaign manager Leslie Ridle, spokeswoman Patty Ginsburg, campaign rural coordinator Sarah Scanlan and Democratic former state Sen. Georgianna Lincoln.

As I noted earlier today – both sides are saying the other is playing the race card.

“Sarah Palin accused the Knowles staff of racism. This is a McCarthy-ite tactic of the lowest order,” Ginsburg said.

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Channel 7 debate (updated)

... Starts at 8 p.m.

I'll try and blog from there, if technical difficulties don't get me down.

Whew. The wireless connection is working. I'm in the studio waiting for the debate to start. The audience is mostly here, everyone's being told to get their bathroom breaks in and turn off their cells.
AP reporter Matt Volz is sitting in the folding chair to my left. Cynthia Toohey is on the right.
7:52 p.m.

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Round two

Both the Knowles and Palin campaigns held press conferences today to talk about yesterday’s Fagan show and the e-mail chain that Knowles and Palin argued about yesterday.

Each camp appears to be saying the other is flashing the race card late in the campaign.

At the very core of this argument is that Palin doesn’t support rural preference for subsistence and fishing rights - which her opponents want to make sure everyone knows - while Palin wants to publicize ties to the Native community and says Knowles uses subsistence to divide voters.

What’s inflamed the issue is the distinction between pointing out Palin’s positions, or that she didn’t attend meetings like the Native Get Out the Vote forum in Fairbanks, and actually accusing her of being anti-Native.

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Read the e-mails

Tomorrow's campaign round-up will include a little bit about the e-mails Palin, Knowles and Georgianna Lincoln were talking about on the Fagan show today.

The chain of e-mails began in October, and appeared to be forwarded to any number of people. The copy I have, provided by the Palin campaign, starts with this e-mail:

From: Myrna D. Gardner
Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2006 6:26 PM
Subject: Candidates should respect their constituents

On Tuesday, October 3rd Sarah Palin was too busy to meet with the
largest, Alaska Native Corporation President and CEOs. How ironic on
Monday, the Alaska Business Monthly Magazine had its Gold Standard of

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