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Betting Against the House… And Senate



Photo of Sen. Murkowski by NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan. Photo of Rep. Young by UAF School of Management. Creative Commons Licensing.
Photo of Sen. Murkowski by NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan. Photo of Rep. Young by UAF School of Management. Creative Commons Licensing.

If I was a betting man, I would stay away from the senate race in Alaska. Wouldn’t much care for my chances either way. You just don’t bet against the odds. When I peeked at the numbers for the upcoming senate race it looks as though it is a Republican majority with or without Sullivan.

Over at the Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog (which, if you haven’t heard, predicted Obama’s win in 2012 as well as a slew of other predictions in a way that the no other mainstream outfit could match in accuracy), they are calling it for a Senate majority for Republicans, with 74 percent confidence. This is good news for Republicans, and honestly I think it is a good thing for Democrats too. Gridlock might be a good thing while we sort out the mess we are in politically. It doesn’t actually matter which side is correct: if either side is as corrupt as everyone claims it is, then the whole country is in trouble regardless of who is in power. I am a Democrat myself, but I would prefer we as Democrats not have to pass legislation scorched-earth style – that’s not how anyone should govern.

It doesn’t really matter nationally whether Republicans win Alaska, gridlock will be gridlock. Even if Dan Sullivan wins, sure he could do some damage to our state, but mostly because no matter what he says he isn’t from Alaska and it shows in his understanding of the issues. If you lose, try again in ten years, Marine – I’ll probably even vote for you. But I think my man Mark is going to pull through. Alaska is tough to call, as FiveThirtyEight admits: “If there’s a race that keeps us awake at night, it’s Alaska.”

From Staff Sergeant Old School.

Mark winning wouldn’t even be the end of the world for Republicans. There will be great gnashing of teeth if he does win, but cooler heads should remain so and realize that Alaska’s strategy should not be part of any party’s national strategy. I know I am not alone in despising the sheer amount of advertising because we are part of that plan. My son thinks Obama, Sullivan, and Begich are all bad guys because there is no good advertising, or so little it doesn’t register in the partisan bleating.

Mark is a fine senator, and with him we have one Senator each in both major parties, both moderate, and both accessible.

On the House side, Don Young is the most senior Republican in the House. I really love Forrest Dunbar and I agonized over this, but I won’t be supporting him over Young. I won’t be heartbroken if you win, Forrest, and I wish you the best of luck, but I’m still going with Young. The man has so much seniority he doesn’t need to chair any committees, recognize. When he isn’t showing his ass to God and country, Don Young is a formidable congressman. But I won’t discount how unpopular his suicide comment made him. I know two grown men who he made indirectly cry with that comment and, being one of them, I tell you I don’t much care for crying about this subject any more than I already do.

Begich’s real power comes from his incredible ground game in Alaska, particularly in rural communities. I know so many amazing young Alaska Native leaders out there going door to door every day, and I think that is what is going to push him over the top.

Interestingly enough, the same vote might spell doom for the pot initiative. Countless Native organizations have come out against it. In my experience, Natives are generally very conservative. Most of my entire family and most everyone I know you would think vote Republican (and many do). We are pretty much the Eskimo version of mom and apple pie. Except its mom, gram and your whole family and agutaq. We go to church every Sunday and pray before every meal. We have one of the highest percentage of people who serve in the military anywhere in the country and we vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. So while this is good news for Begich, I question how this is going to affect the pot initiative. The possible counter to that would be the young rural turnout — which helps the pot initiative, but I think might be a wash for Democrats.

No matter how this all turns out I will be pretty nonplussed (take that English). No matter what happens you should also relax. Gridlock can be a good thing, and yes perhaps the country will become worse off, and yes many people will be hurt in the turmoil. But we will still be America, so we’ll probably still be doing pretty good.

The Republicans will inherit an improving economy, and their first target will be Obamacare. But they probably can’t hurt it too much.

From The Once & Future Coffee Addict.
From The Once & Future Coffee Addict.

They certainly aren’t going to get rid of it no matter how they bluster. Maybe, with enough wisdom, they can fine tune it. I would prefer single-payer for everyone using a Nuka-style system like Southcentral Foundation has, but perhaps we should see how Obamacare plays out. Barry is a smart dude. It’s really not a bad plan if you think about it, it manages to provide many of the benefits of single payer and retain some of the value of the insurance model. So yeah, gridlock is fine for now, and in four years I will vote for Lisa and Don.

If you’re still reading this, maybe you might be one of the ones I want to stay in Alaska. If oil dropped to $15  a barrel tomorrow we would find out in short order who the real Alaskans were. We have economic tourists, and while they may be American, they might not be Alaskan. I’m not pointing this out to be xenophobic, I don’t mind too much. A good job is a good job. After all, the reason my wife and I moved back to Alaska was for a better job for her and opportunity for me.

It wasn’t a hard sell: I was born in Bethel and raised mostly in Nome before spending my adolescence in Palmer. I thought I wanted to leave when I was younger but as it turns out, this is my home. As a friend once said: I will die here. My bones will be laid to rest alongside my family interred in the tundra. I care greatly about what happens here, but my view is so long I have a hard time getting too worried about this short term stuff. The vision at the place I work is “Progress for the next 10,000 years,” and while I am lately becoming suspicious of progress, I find the timeline useful for putting things into context.

So I’m not too worried about this election any which way it goes, but that’s only because I don’t think it could get much worse – and even if it does, it seems that may be necessary. What does Alaska do? Well, first of all perhaps we need to define who is Alaskan: if you won’t be here when the oil and gas runs out, then you are a tourist. We love tourists in Alaska, but we have a special kind of relationship. We might bitch about our winters, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. The tourists aren’t all bad either. For instance, Big Oil does do a lot of good when they aren’t exploiting Parnell’s unapologetically pro-oil agenda. Not only is the work they do crucial to the success of our economy, they also contribute to many great organizations around the state.

We should always recognize relationships for what they are, something that’s lost on Sean Parnell. Big Oil is a big tourist. Palin always calls them like she sees them, her vision ain’t always so good but she pegged Parnell for what he is. Our relationship with oil is a partnership, but oil always has to be the one who loves more. Just for the record, Alaskans can and do work within the oil companies, but don’t think for one minute Alaska is a charity case. That job is not a favor. They are not here to do us a solid.

We’ve got some internal stuff to work out, and I aim to stir that hornets nest if anyone cares to listen. In the meantime, one of the things we can do is stop playing their game. We have a lot going on in our country right now, and for better or worse we are stuck in it together. A lot of people look to Alaska, and for good reason. We are a leader in many ways, and even without the tourists (economic and otherwise) we are a weird lot. Maybe even weird enough to actually make change in our political system.


  1. “The man has so much seniority he doesn’t need to chair any committees”

    That’s… a generous assessment of the facts.

    I would be more-inclined to say that, if the most-senior Republican in the House can’t get even a single committee chair, or even VICE chair, or even chair of SUB committee (ever since–coincidentally, I’m sure–that ethics investigation (“Which one?” you ask, because there’s more than one to pick from) which had no “official” findings but suddenly, and ever since, he hasn’t been chair of anything) then what the hell is the point of keeping his offensive mouth around? His “seniority” is useless and his mouth is a liability.

  2. I am being generous, I’m sure the man knows his way around the House. I’ll admit that might be a weak point, but I would still much rather have him than a freshman Democratic congressman in a Republican controlled Congress.

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