Campaigns clash down to wire in primary

Candidates unleash barrage of 11th-hour ads.

August 23, 2010 

Rose Abraham-Nelson, left, walks daughter Laurel Nelson, 12, through the voting process as she casts her ballot Tuesday, August 24, 2010, at East Anchorage United Methodist Church. Laurel is a home-schooled seventh grader.

ERIK HILL / ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS Buy Photo

Candidates made their final push Monday before today's primary election in which voters will decide sharply contested races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, Legislature and ballot measures.

Alaskans can't turn on their radios or televisions without being saturated by ads in the Republican primary race between Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and her Republican primary rival Joe Miller. It is a race attracting national attention, with the California-based Tea Party Express saying it's spent over half a million dollars on ads for Miller. Murkowski, the eight-year incumbent, has also spent big, with the bulk of her campaign contributions coming from outside of the state.

The Miller and Tea Party Express ads label Murkowski a liberal. Former Gov. Sarah Palin has been making robo-calls telling Alaskans to vote for Miller.

Murkowski ads, meanwhile, bash the Obama administration and call Miller a liar. She's running a new radio ad called "Truth," which features Anchorage talk radio host Dan Fagan (who ended up as a Miller supporter) screaming at Miller, "you're lying! You're lying about her record! She does want to repeal Obamacare!"

Alaska Congressman Don Young also has Republican primary challengers, including former ACS executive Sheldon Fisher. Fisher has been assailing Young for refusing to answer questions about the long U.S. Department of Justice investigation of him. Young announced this month that the Justice Department was dropping the investigation and would not seek charges, but he wouldn't talk about what the Justice Department spent those years investigating.

Young said people shouldn't "mudrake" and ought to congratulate him for the end of the investigation.

THE GOVERNOR'S RACE

The Republican candidates for governor attended a final debate Monday. Ralph Samuels announced that "I've probably got the least sexy message of any politician in this election."

His message was that Alaska has declining oil production and a growing state budget. He said Medicaid needs to be cut and rural schools might have to be regionalized, with children going to live in another community for school. Samuels also argues that the state's oil taxes are too high.

Bill Walker pressed his campaign theme of building a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez, maintaining the world market will support the financing. He also took a shot at Gov. Sean Parnell for avoiding debates on the trail. Walker called it "my summer with Ralph."

"I show up at every debate; this is my 25th. The governor shows up at about two-thirds less than that," he said.

Parnell said he's been at a dozen debates. "I also have a day job, and a night job, as your governor."

Parnell will face voters for the first time today since going from lieutenant governor to governor when Palin resigned last summer. Parnell said Monday that Alaska is in good shape and is making progress toward construction of a natural gas pipeline. Parnell told the audience that Alaskans would be a much greater people if we could "erase the diminishing of each other" and work together on problems.

Candidates running in the Democratic primary for governor -- state Sen. Hollis French and former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz -- were doing last-minute sign waving and rallying supporters on Monday.

A LAST-MINUTE FIGHT

Most of the final action in the closely contested Republican primary race for lieutenant governor came at the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Monday. APOC denied a request that it rule before today's election on a complaint filed Friday alleging Republican lieutenant governor candidate Jay Ramras violated election law with television ads for his Fairbanks business, Pike's Waterfront Lodge. The ads stopped running over two months ago and were pulled from YouTube on Monday.

Ramras' attorney Tim McKeever called it a "trumped up, last minute smear campaign." The complaint came from Steve Flory of Anchorage, a donor to the campaign of Ramras rival Mead Treadwell. Flory said he thought someone else would complain and he realized late that nobody else had.

Ramras in the hotel ads talked about "Alaska exceptionalism" and "Alaska's finest hour," and Flory called that similar to a Ramras campaign ad message that "Alaska's best days are ahead."

Besides Ramras and Treadwell, former talk radio host Eddie Burke is in the contest.

The Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor are Diane Benson, Lynette Moreno-Hinz and Jack Powers.

Alaska voters today will also decide on two ballot measures.

Ballot Measure 1 aims to put stricter limits on lobbying and campaign contributions. Supporters call it an anti-corruption measure. Opponents include unions, business groups, nonprofits and local governments, and they say the measure goes too far and would hurt the ability of many Alaskans to be heard politically.

Ballot Measure 2 would require doctors to notify parents before girls 17 and under get an abortion, though girls could get around that by going before a judge or submitting a notarized statement about abuse at home. Supporters say parents have the right to be notified; opponents say that girls from troubled homes would struggle with the requirements.

Daily News reporter Lisa Demer contributed to this story.

• POLLS: Open statewide from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find your polling place, go online to www.elections.alaska.gov or call the state Division of Elections at 522-8683. • WHO'S ON THE BALLOT: Primary races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, lieutenant governor and much of the Legislature. Winners advance to the Nov. 2 general election. • TWO BALLOT MEASURES: No. 1 would place stricter limits on campaign funding and lobbying; No. 2 would require parents to be notified before a girl age 17 or under could get an abortion, or require the teen to get permission from a judge. Visit adn.com early tonight to follow results2010 primary election is today

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