Longtime Republican almost forced to vote for a Democrat

POINT / Counterpoint

September 21, 2010 

Last Friday I joined thousands of Alaskans in a huge sigh of relief. "Thank God she's still in," I said to myself. For the past few weeks I have been preparing to do the unthinkable -- vote for a Democrat. As a former Platinum Member of the RNC you'd think it would have been a tough decision. It wasn't. I knew I could never cast a vote for Joe Miller.

To be honest, I didn't even know who won the Democratic primary until Lisa Murkowski conceded. "Scott McAdams it is then ... he's from Sitka ... I like the Southeast ... Southeast Alaska is pretty ... there are good people there and they brew good beer." I searched for any sliver of comfort as I resigned myself to this unprecedented move. These are desperate times, and desperate times call for desperate measures. It has to be anyone but Miller.

The thought of voting for a Democrat and possibly having our state represented by two Democrats in Washington seemed strangely palatable given the alternative. I couldn't bear the thought of Joe Miller representing Alaska.

As crude oil throughput continues to decline, our sights are now focused on a natural gas pipeline. Our representatives in Washington will need to navigate the labyrinth of regulatory oversight, carefully steering fickle and petulant regulators away from environmental policies that would cripple Alaska's economy. Successfully balancing Alaska's resource development with environmental protection will require savvy negotiation and a measured, thoughtful approach. The last thing we need right now is for Joe Miller to come screeching into Washington with his hair on fire demanding that the federal government move out of Alaska.

I have yet to see any viable road map from Miller on how he plans to accomplish this idealistic and short-sided objective. The only thing Miller might be able to accomplish, as a freshman senator, would be to alienate his fellow lawmakers to such a degree that they actually give him what he wants -- decreased federal funding for Alaska. Rural Alaskans should be thrilled with that prospect.

I voted in the primary, but I wasn't surprised to see that most Alaskans didn't. It's a Republican primary in Alaska; of course the incumbent will win! Like many other Alaskans, I was shocked to see that Miller came away with the win. I thought for sure that Palin's endorsement was the kiss of death for his campaign. Surely Alaskans are tired of the mounting humiliation that comes with each inflammatory and ignorant sound bite that she regurgitates on a daily basis. I was baffled by the willingness to propel anyone onto the national stage that was even remotely associated with her.

I'm sure some Alaskans were lulled by the romantic idea of an "independent" Alaska. "We'll kick out the feds, drill wherever we want, mine every square inch that isn't covered by a pipeline and we'll make our own rules under King Joe!" While that ideology strikes fear in the hearts of many thoughtful Alaskans, there is obviously a contingent of rogues willing to open the throttle of irresponsibility. Let's hope they're outnumbered on Nov. 2.

I'll be doing my part on that day by taking a few extra seconds to write in Lisa Murkowski's name (and fill in the oval). She has represented Alaska with dignity, thoughtful foresight and a commitment to do what is best for Alaskans. Now she's in a real fight. She'll be attacked from both sides. She'll have to endure criticism from Sarah Palin, a self-serving, intellectual neophyte whose service to Alaska will never come close to that of Lisa Murkowski. If Murkowski can weather that storm she just might make history.

Murkowski ... spelled just like it sounds.


Geneva Walters is a project manager for an environmental services company and a lifetime Alaskan. She lives in Anchorage.

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