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A glowing piece about Anchorage Rep. Lindsey Holmes

Amanda Coyne
Loren Holmes photo

One last word on the upcoming legislative races, and then I’ll stop until Election Day tomorrow. I spent some time with Anchorage Democratic incumbent Rep. Lindsey Holmes on Saturday knocking on doors. I did this because I was accused of writing a "glowing" piece about her challenger, Republican Anand Dubey.

If he wins, Dubey will be the first person born in India to serve in office in Alaska, and he designed and built a computer application which has an intricate electronic map of the district. It’s cool. Other campaigns should deploy it.

I wouldn’t call my piece glowing-glowing, and I didn’t let him criticize Holmes, but for various reasons, mostly because I was wrapped up in another piece, I didn’t give Holmes a chance to respond.

I should have done that. That was wrong of me, and I’ve been roundly criticized for it.

Let me be clear: I’m pretty convinced that nothing I wrote about Dubey, or nothing that I’m about to write about Holmes is going to sway a single voter -- nor is that my intent. But fair is fair, and Holmes deserves fair, so I decided to take some of her precious time during the campaign to spend a few pleasant hours with her on Saturday -- doing the hackneyed reporter bit by knocking on doors in Turnagain, which is in her district.

I think we need more people like Dubey in state government, if nothing else because he has a technology-inspired vision for the state. But he’s also apparently not above sending out unfair attack ads against Holmes, tying her to comments that outgoing Rep. Mike Doogan made about killing the Permanent Fund. This was after Holmes voted on a bill to put $2 billion of a $15-billion surplus permanently into the fund.

Whatever crazy thing Doogan, who is known to occasionally say some crazy things, said about the bill, Holmes says that her vote was a vote for fiscal responsibility. And the only people who could, with a straight face, argue with that are those who believe that the means justify the ends. Or something.

In any case, the attacks don’t appear to be working. Holmes is expected to win the race. She’s expected to win because she’s a good legislator -- she gets things done and she’s sensible. She’s a lawyer, so she knows how things work, and she works across party lines, so she knows how to get law -- whether they be about consumer protection bills, the construction industry, or a domestic violence victims -- passed.

She says she’s left-leaning on social issues, but more conservative on issues affecting businesses. In other words, she’s a lot like the district she represents.

But that’s not why she’s likely to win: She’s likely to win because she knows her neighborhood. She grew up in the neighborhood, went to school down the street, and when she moved back from graduate school -- she has a law degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in international relations from Stanford -- she  bought a house in the neighborhood.

She knows the cracks on the street. She knows the woods surrounding the area. She knows the tennis court, and she knows the schools. And, most importantly, she knows the people.

Indeed, if she had staged the response she got as she went door to door, it wouldn’t have worked out better for her. In the houses we visited where people were home, they all knew her -- some since she was a little girl -- and all said that she was doing a great job and that they planned to vote for her.

A car driving stopped, and the woman driving said that Holmes was increasingly looking like her mother, who died when Holmes was 16 years old from breast cancer. The neighborhood mourned. With Holmes' credentials, she could be working at any number of best law firms in the country. But she loves Alaska, and she loves her neighborhood and her mother’s memory, which floats softly through Holmes’ house, these things drive her.

"I don't need a fancy computer app," she said as we were walking. "What I need to know is my district." As if on cue, another car drove by, and another person waved. 

This is what you’d call a glowing piece about a candidate.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com