Parnell wins his own term as Alaska governor

Lisa Demer
Senator Lisa Murkowski supporters waived signs at Election Central in the Egan Center Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Gov. Sean Parnell and running mate Mead Treadwell field questions on the KTUU set at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
State House candidate Lupe Marroquin visits at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Democratic Senatorial candidate Scott McAdams is herded to an interview by KTUU chaperones at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Scott McAdams visits as he arrives at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Don Young is interviewed for KSKA at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Scott McAdams poses with Rachel Lauesen, left, and Harriet Drummond at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Scott McAdams supporters watch for returns at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Senator Lisa Murkowski talks to the national media as supporters waive signs in the background at Election Central in the Egan Center Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Ted Kelly, 15, and Conor Feckley, 15, hold Lisa Murkowski campaign signs at Election Central in the Egan Center Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
U.S. Senate Republican candidate Joe Miller leaves his campaign party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on election night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
U.S. Senate Republican candidate Joe Miller, in vehicle, prepares to leave his campaign party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on election night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Congressman Don Young congratulates Lisa Murkowski at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Senator Lisa Murkowski wore a campaign bracelet while being interviewed by the national media at Election Central in the Egan Center Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Harry Crawford, right, is pleased to hear Michael Powell displayed a Crawford sign in his yard at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Democratic Senatorial candidate Scott McAdams walks to election central flanked by his wife Romee, left, and daughter Kaity, 16, right, after leaving a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers early returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010. At left is her son Matt and at right is friend Hope Nelson.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Don Young thanks supporters at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski and her supporters march downtown toward the Egan Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Democratic Senatorial candidate Scott McAdams urges his supporter to continue to be proud Democrats and continue to fight regardless of the outcome tonight at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers early returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010. Her son Matt is at left. Her husband Verne Martell is behind her with her other son Nic.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Mia Costello celebrates her election to a state house at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Gov. Sean Parnell thanks supporters flanked by his wife Sandy, left, and his running mate Mead Treadwell at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers early returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010. At left is son Matt. Her other son Nic is behind her and friend Hope Nelson is at right.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller sticker at the Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Campaign signs for Lisa Murkowski and Joe Miller are waved at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller is greeted by Alaska Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich at an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Democratic Senatorial candidate Scott McAdams greets rush hour drivers Tuesday afternoon November 2, 2010 along Minnesota Drive at West Northern Lights Boulevard.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Jean Byers puts on a sticker after casting her ballot in Indian at the Valley Bible Chalet along the Seward Highway on Tuesday morning, November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller introduces his eight children on stage during an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski walks with her family after she cast her ballot at the Girdwood Community Center on November 2, 2010. From left is son Matt Martell, husband Verne Martell and son Nic Martell is at right.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor Sean Parnell and democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz shake hands while campaigning at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Campaign volunteer Suzy Walsh waits for returns replete with a Scott McAdams mustache at a McAdams campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Arlene Cowles and her daughter Matilda, 8, read the sign upon entering the polling place in Indian at the Valley Bible Chalet along the Seward Highway on Tuesday morning, November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller is greeted by Alaska Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich at an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and his wife Kathleen are greeted by supporters as the arrive at an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Queen Lisa played by US Senate candidate Joe Miller supporter Bob Dreyer sits in the back of Hummer at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Joe Miller and his wife Kathleen participate in an election night party at the Snow Goose Restaurant Tuesday night, November 2, 2010.
Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News
District Judge Richard Postma campaigns for retention on the bench with his daughter Kathryn Postma on the corner of Lake Otis and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Campaign signs are waved at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Steve Miller the organizer of the Joe Miller sign waving militia waves a Betsy Ross flag at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Election worker Sharon Yore, right, hands out a sticker to a voter in Indian at the Valley Bible Chalet along the Seward Highway on Tuesday morning, November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski talks with reporters after she cast her ballot at the Girdwood Community Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Voters at Goldenview Middle School line up to cast their ballots Tuesday morning, in what election workers called a strong turnout.
Richard J. Murphy / Anchorage Daily News
A group of sheeple who organized on Facebook wave signs at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010. The group were there to illustrate white sheep feel that black sheep have the wrong values and vice versa. One of the sheeple commented "We have nothing in common with those black sheep.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Democratic Alaska gubernatorial challenger Ethan Berkowitz reaches out while campaigning at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Benson Blvd. on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
District Judge Richard Postma campaigns for retention on the bench with his daughter Kathryn Postma on the corner of Lake Otis and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Xochitl Horton campaigns in support of Senator Lisa Murkowski in her reelection bid at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and his wife Kathleen thank their supporters before leaving an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
Bill Roth
A voter enters the polling place in Indian at the Valley Bible Chalet along the Seward Highway on Tuesday morning, November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Naomi Stapp waves Joe Miller signs at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010. Stapp is Alutiq.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Senator Lisa Murkowski talks with her father Frank Murkowski (second from right), former Alaska governor and senator, during lunch at the Lucky Wishbone restaurant in Anchorage on November 2, 2010. At far right is Lisa's husband Verne Martell. Lunch at the Lucky Wishbone is an Election Day tradition for Lisa's family, a campaign spokesperson said.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
. Senate candidate Scott McAdams stops for lunch on election day at the Lucky Wishbone in Anchorage. Son Gavin, 5, is eating a grilled cheese.
RICHARD MAUER / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski waves to supporters after she cast her ballot at the Girdwood Community Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News

Gov. Sean Parnell won in his own right the job he inherited last year when Sarah Palin abruptly resigned.

Parnell, a steady Republican conservative who promised voters his administration is on track to secure a long-sought natural gas pipeline, won 59 percent of the vote to Democrat challenger Ethan Berkowitz's 38 percent, with 70 percent of the precincts counted.

Berkowitz, 48, threw a fierce challenge at Parnell but couldn't win over enough voters with his pitch that the state was stagnating and needed his fresh ideas.

Parnell was part of the winning Palin-Parnell ticket four years ago as the lieutenant governor candidate. This time he won as the headliner. He doesn't exhibit the rock star allure of his predecessor and isn't burdened by the perpetual drama that marred her last year. Instead Parnell tried to appeal to voters as the steady conservative choice.

"I think over the last 15 months, I've earned the trust of Alaskans," Parnell said Tuesday night walking into the Egan Convention Center, which was election central. "They know that I'm focused on jobs and families. I'm going to continue to do that."

He said he ran a positive campaign focused on issues, not personalities. While there are yet votes to be counted, including absentee ballots, his lead appears insurmountable, Parnell said.

Berkowitz, at his campaign party at Snow City Café, all but conceded.

He said he ran a good race and now Parnell "has the burden of leadership."

Berkowitz said he plans to stay involved in politics.

He said he told his campaign supporters, "As long as I draw breath I'm going to fight for the things I believe in."

RUNNING ON HIS RECORD

Voters said they wanted to give Parnell four more years to set his own agenda.

"Sean virtually got stuck with Sarah's garbage and you might as well give him a chance to try to actually do something," said Edward Bouwens, a 55-year-old independent voter and lifelong Alaskan. He voted midday at Anchorage's Hanshew Middle School.

Colleen Gross, an Ocean View Elementary School teacher and mom in her 40s, said she voted for Sean Parnell in the governor's race because he is doing "an adequate job."

"Ethan Berkowitz is a little extreme, so we'll stay with the adequate guy," Gross said.

During the campaign, Parnell ran on his record: legislation that upped penalties for sex crimes, more support for victims of domestic violence, cuts in the cruise-ship passenger tax, creation of a merit scholarship program, state lawsuits against the federal government on several fronts, including one trying to overturn a moratorium on offshore drilling in Alaska's Arctic.

Parnell vowed to largely stay the course, supporting a process begun under the Palin administration for a natural gas pipeline project from the North Slope that private companies are evaluating whether to build. But he also said he wanted to fine-tune a controversial 2007 oil tax law by providing tax breaks for oil exploration.

BERKOWITZ OFFERED CHANGE

Berkowitz is an attorney and former state legislator from Anchorage. He told voters the state was languishing under Parnell. He offered a flurry of proposals: changes in Alaska's oil tax structure, free preschool for families who wanted it, lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, and an opportunity for Alaskans to invest directly in a gas pipeline project.

Berkowitz even lured high profile Republican Bill Walker, Parnell's runner-up in August's GOP primary, onto his team as head of the all-in-Alaska gas pipeline project Berkowitz vowed to push if he won.

"My primary concern is that gas pipeline and jobs," said Robert Carnahan, 46, a Walker fan and commercial fisherman who cast his ballot for Parnell at Anchorage's Romig Middle School. "Ethan Berkowitz just about had me because of the gas pipeline."

A number of voters for Berkowitz said they liked his optimism, ideas and willingness to shake things up.

"He's pretty honest for somebody who's been involved in politics," said Carolynn Hickey, 61 and an independent voter also casting her ballot at the Lutheran church. "He's got a lot of good positive ideas. I think he would be a good change for Alaska."

LAST-MINUTE HEAT

It's hard for a Democrat to win statewide in Alaska without an odd twist: a criminal conviction, two conservatives splitting the vote, exposed malfeasance. Berkowitz had hoped that rough-and-tumble U.S. Senate race would break open his own race, but it didn't work out that way.

The race heated up in the final days with an infusion of more than $700,000 from the Republican Governors Association for television and radio ads that blasted Berkowitz as an Obama-like liberal.

Berkowitz got some help from the political arm of the National Education Association-Alaska, which did radio and newspaper ads for Berkowitz and a few legislative candidates. On the ticket with him as the lieutenant governor candidate was Diane Benson, a Chugiak writer and actress.

Parnell is an attorney and former state representative and senator from Anchorage. He became an oil company lobbyist, then served in the Murkowski administration as the deputy director of the Division of Oil and Gas. He and his wife, Sandy, have two daughters.

Parnell's running mate was Mead Treadwell, an entrepreneur who was a close associate of the late Gov. Wally Hickel.

Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390. Reporter Rosemary Shinohara contributed to this story.


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com
Contact Lisa Demer at LDemer@adn.com or on