Wednesday, September 06, 2006

AK-Gov: What's Going on Here?

Posted by DavidNYC

A new poll from a Republican outfit (Dittman Research) in Alaska (voters, no trendlines):

Knowles (D): 29
Palin (R): 46
Halcro (I): 3
Undecided: 22
(MoE: ±4.4)

Sorry, no link - I got this one via PollingReport. Anyhow, Dittman is, as I say, a GOP firm, but their poll of the Republican primary was pretty accurate. They had it Palin-Binkley-Murkowski at 40-29-17. Actual results: 51-30-19, clearly with most of the undecideds breaking for Palin. So I'm not ready to write them off just because of their partisan bent - or even because the firm was recently raided as part of an FBI corruption investigation. (Allegedly, Dittman is not a target.)

So anyhow, what's going on here? I was initially very excited about the prospect of Tony Knowles getting into the race - despite his narrow loss in 2004 for AK-Sen, he's really the one marquee Democratic name in Alaska. Of course, the possibility of a matchup against incumbent Frank Murkowski was extremely appealing, but I figured Knowles would have a great shot no matter who his opponent was. Unfortunately, an earlier Rasmussen poll showed TK trailing Palin 51-38, and this latest survey is even more depressing.

One native Alaskan over on DailyKos told me that Knowles has been lying low, hoarding his bullets until after Labor Day. But Knowles probably has close to 100% name recognition, so I'm not really sure how much sense this strategy makes. The modern political playbook says you want to define your opponent negatively as early as possible, especially if you are the incumbent. While there is no incumbent now in this suddenly open-seat race, Knowles certainly has the stature of one.

According to this survey, the battleground is among independents, where Palin leads 44-24. (Both candidates have firm support among members of their own party, but this obviously isn't nearly good enough for Knowles in deep-red Alaska.) If Palin retains her "squeaky clean" image, then it seems like it'll be hard for Knowles to make many inroads. And every week he waits, the harder to gets to drive up her negatives. I only hope that he's got some good oppo on her - and that he's planning a media blitz right away.

Posted at 01:47 PM in 2006 Elections - State, Alaska | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Monday, May 29, 2006

AK-Gov: Knowles Is In!

Posted by DavidNYC

This is some great, great news: Former Gov. Tony Knowles declared today that he will indeed seek another term as governor. Knowles, a very popular figure in AK politics, previously served two terms in the governor's mansion but was term-limited out in 2002. However, Alaska's constitution permits a return to office if you skip a term, so Knowles is eligible to run again this year.

One sign of Knowles' strength is that one of the Dem gov candidates, Ethan Berkowitz, immediately said that he would drop out after Knowles made his announcement. The other announced candidate, Eric Croft, hasn't said anything yet, but hopefully he'll bow out as well. Either way, Knowles will have a straight shot to the Dem nomination.

On the other side, as RBH detailed a few days ago, current incumbent Frank Murkowski declared that he, too, will seek another term. This is also great news, given that Murkowski has a net approval rating of minus FIFTY. Murkowski is so unpopular that he's actually facing some stiff primary opposition from his own party. Whenever you can say that about an incumbent, you know it's bad news bears. Naturally, of course, we're rooting hard for Frank.

I should also add that a former Republican state rep, Andrew Halcro, is running as an independent. I've gotta believe that Halcro will draw more votes from the eventual GOP nominee than from Knowles. And Alaskans do seem to love independents - they gave Ross Perot some 28% in 1992, second only to Maine. I have no idea how much name rec this Halcro has, but he could stir things up.

Knowles doesn't appear to have a website up yet, but hopefully he'll launch one soon. (It may go up at the URL of his last campaign sight, presently down.) No matter who the GOP nominee is, Knowles instantly moves this seat into one of our top gubernatorial pick-up opportunities in 2006. Needless to say, I'm very excited about this race.

(Much thanks to RandyMI for alerting me to this story.)

Posted at 11:38 PM in 2006 Elections - State, Alaska | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Friday, May 26, 2006

AK-Gov: Murkowski To Run For Re-Election

Posted by RBH

The field in Alaska gets slightly more certain

Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski this morning declared his intention to seek re-election, saying he wanted to continue the work on advancing a North Slope natural gas pipeline.

“The gas line is certainly the No. 1 priority of my administration,” Murkowski told the morning crowd.

In an e-mail message distributed from the governor’s personal e-mail account, Murkowski says he returned to Alaska from Washington, D.C. “to get Alaska moving again.”

But, when it comes to this race, there's one thing which will work against Murkowski, his low job approval rating. Ok, "low job approval rating" is being generous.

According to SurveyUSA, His job approval rating is 23%. His job approval rating has been "moving again", moving down to 29% in April. Murkowski's highest job approval number in the last year on SUSA was 34%.

And 35% of Republicans approve of Murkowski's job performance.

With a poll number like that, it's no wonder that Murkowski has a primary opponent that wants his job. But, Murkowski could make it though his primary using the power of name recognition. But, he may end up with a very low primary percentage.

The two Democrats running are Ethan Berkowitz and Eric Croft. I think Tony Knowles is still a rumored candidate. I don't know who is in front of the two candidates mentioned.

I think that Alaska is the hidden opportunity for Democrats this fall. Especially if Murkowski wins re-nomination.

Posted at 01:27 PM in 2006 Elections - State, Alaska | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Thursday, March 02, 2006

AK-Gov: What's up with Tony Knowles?

Posted by DavidNYC

A couple months ago, I wrote about the possibility of Tony Knowles running for Alaska governor. (Knowles was a popular former governor who was term-limited out - but the limits no longer apply to him as he's now sat out a full term.) Chris Bowers' gubernatorial roundup got me thinking about this race once again, and I realized I haven't heard anything about what Knowles is up to.

This Anchorage Daily News article from Feb. 17th included the following tidbit in the final paragraph:

The wild card on the Democratic side is former Gov. Tony Knowles. The two-term governor has not said whether he plans to run, nor has he filed a letter of intent with the state that would allow him to begin raising money.

AK-Gov is really in flux right now. Super-unpopular (26-69 approval rating) incumbent Frank Murkowski hasn't yet announced whether he will seek re-election. If he does, he'll have to face several fellow GOPers in a primary. I'm thinking it's looking pretty bad for Murkowski now, considering that his own Lieutenant Governor is considering jumping into the race.

Meanwhile, another more recent ADN story (Feb. 24th) mentioned this nugget toward the end:

Told by a reporter that some Democrats would like to see former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles vie for his seat, Young said he would take that fight in a heartbeat.

"I guarantee you I (would) beat him, and then he's dead politically forever. That's it," Young said.

Knowles couldn't be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

This might, of course, just be wishful thinking on the part of Alaska Democrats, who must be bloody sick of Young after 34 years in Congress. Moreover, I doubt that Young is in any way vulnerable right now - at least, not in the way Murkowski so clearly is. I don't think this would be a wise race to enter for Knowles. If he does want to think about Congress, he might want to wait a bit. He's not a young man, but he is ten years younger than Young (who is 73, and surely must be thinking about retiring soon). Moreover, Sen. Ted Stevens (who is ten years older still, 83) may retire at the end of this term in 2008.

As to this year's Governor's race, though, Knowles really needs to make up his mind soon. It's not fair to the Dems already running in AK-Gov to keep them on tenterhooks, as they almost certainly would have to drop out if Knowles enters. On the flip-side, donors are probably playing "wait-and-see" with Knowles and may not contribute to the current candidates if TK doesn't clearly state he's not running. Personally, I like Knowles a lot and I hope he does jump in. But I'd like to know what's what soon.

Posted at 11:17 PM in 2006 Elections - State, Alaska | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Monday, December 26, 2005

AK-Gov: A Return for Knowles?

Posted by DavidNYC

One of the bitterest losses last year was up in Alaska. Popular former Gov. Tony Knowles lost by just three points to "incumbent" Sen. Lisa Murkowski. I put incumbent in quotes because, despite her minimal qualifications, she had been tapped to fill a brief Senate vacancy by the state's governor. Who happened to have created the vacancy himself by leaving the Senate to become governor. And who also happened to be her father. It especially sticks in my craw because Lisa M. is pretty unpopular (60th, vs. 10 for AK's super-senior senator, Ted Stevens).

But there's a silver lining to all this - a very shiny, lustrous silvery lining indeed, at least for Democrats. Frank M. (Lisa's daddy) is now the second-least popular American governor in all creation. His approval rating stands at an astounding 27-69. (Frank says a prayer for #50 Bob Taft's health every day.) Indeed, Frank may not even run again. This gives Tony Knowles a golden opportunity to reclaim his old office. TK was term-limited out in 2002, but the AK state constitution allows a former Governor to run again after a one-term interval.

And it looks like TK is at least thinking about tossing his hat back in. The AK Dems recently touted a public appearance by Knowles - the first time they've done so since he lost to Lisa M. last year. Of course, this is just tea-leaf reading right now, and there already are two Dem candidates in the mix: State Reps. Eric Croft and Ethan Berkowitz.

Pollster Ivan Moore claims that any one of these guys - Croft, Berkowitz or Knowles - could beat Frank. However, two things: First, in eleven straight polls last year, Moore had Knowles leading Lisa, including a two-point margin in his final poll in mid-October. So that's something of a mark against him. But second, and more importantly, if Murkowski decides not to run again, then the GOP will probably have a more formidable candidate (ie, one without all that baggage and those horrible negatives).

In that scenario, we'd want our biggest guns blazing - and that would take the form of Tony Knowles. Fact is, we'd want the strongest guy we can muster no matter whom the Republicans put forth, even if it is Frank. As I'm sure you've gathered from this post, I'd like to see Knowles jump in, but TK has to make up his mind soon, though. By keeping everyone on tenterhooks, he makes it a lot harder for Croft and Berkowitz to raise money and gain traction. Let's hope we hear from him before long.

Posted at 04:28 PM in 2006 Elections - State, Alaska | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati