Friday, June 02, 2006

Alaska Independence Party Offers Up Dynamic Gubernatorial Ticket

Special Note: This post updated August 18th to reflect the fact that Troy Maulden earlier withdrew his candidacy for lieutenant governor. Douglas Welton is currently the only AIP candidate for lieutenant governor.

The Alaska Independence Party (AIP) unveiled its most coherent and dynamic gubernatorial ticket since 1994 late Thursday (June 1st) when Eddie Burke announced his intention to seek the AIP nomination for governor, and Troy Maulden joined him on the ticket by switching his lieutenant governor campaign from the Republican Party at the last moment. See a related Anchorage Daily News story here and a related KTUU report here. Click here for an updated Division of Elections list of all state candidates.

Burke is 44 years old and a 34-year resident of Alaska. He has been married to his wife Linda for 24 years. They have four children: Candice, Terrin, Eddie, & Erica. He brings extensive grass-roots political experience to the table, having served as Chief of Staff for the House Resources Committee in the Alaska State Legislature. He was appointed by former Anchorage Mayor Tom Fink to the Hazardous Materials Commission based upon his experience as a then-owner of a local Chevron service station in disposing of waste oil safely and profitably. He also served as Press Secretary for Tax Cap Yes, a citizens group that unsucessfully promoted a statewide 10-mills property tax cap in November 2000 (Tax Cap Yes was outspent approximately 10-1 by Alaskans United Against The Cap), and as Budget Chairman for the Special Olympics board. Burke also chaired the Term Limits Coalition of Alaska and a group called Alaskans Just Say No, a group who fought to protect the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend during both the Knowles and Murkowski Administrations. The resultant Save Your Dividend campaign in 1999 triggered the resounding defeat of a measure proposing a cap on the PFD, with an 83% rejection vote.

On the flip side, Burke, as President of the Anchorage Taxpayers for Responsible Taxation, co-signed a group letter sent by Americans for Prosperity to Congress urging passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) on the spurious notion that this measure, unlike the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), would promote genuine free trade. Most people know by now that NAFTA, rather than promoting actual free trade, essentially exchanged affordable jobs for hordes of unskilled illegal immigrants, who not only have denigrated the quality of life wherever they congregate in large numbers, but have further destabilized society by precipitously altering the demographic balance of many areas within a short period of time. This has triggered what used to be called "white flight", but is increasingly assuming a more multi-racial middle-class character, particularly in the American Southwest. Click here for a particularly heartbreaking account of what happened to one neighborhood in suburban Orange County, CA.

Eddie Burke also ran for the Alaska State Senate in 2004 as the AIP candidate for Senate District O against incumbent Republican John Cowdery and Democratic challenger Lynda Zaugg. His blunt, aggressive, cut-to-the-chase campaign style, while criticized by some, earned him 8.4% of the vote.

In his Thursday press release, Burke talked about his experience as a small business owner, extensive grass-roots political work, and several issues important to all Alaskans. “We need a Governor who will negotiate Alaska’s resources in the best interest of Alaskans. We are at critical time in our state’s history where the governor should be building trust with the citizens by laying out a solid foundation for future generations to build upon,” said Burke. “Both Murkowski and Knowles promoted, introduced or signed legislation to raid the PFD and we need a governor who has a record of standing up for the dividend, not raiding it,” he continued.

Burke currently owns 1st Frontier Mortgage Company in Anchorage. In 1991 the U. S. Small Business Administration named Burke Alaska’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year. As a small business owner, he understands that a smaller more efficient government will pave the way for a brighter future for all citizens. “With more money in the hands of ordinary citizens the economy will be stronger. This can only be done in an environment with stable taxes, good jobs, and prosperity for everyone,” Burke stated.

The major political parties have endeavored to be everything for everyone by spending the wealth of Alaska. This approach has never been successful anywhere on the planet. So why should we continue to allow them to spend all of the surplus revenue instead of paying off debt or saving for future needs? I will treat the people of Alaska with the respect they deserve. I will be the people's Governor, something we have needed for a very long time,” Burke concluded.

Challenges: Late entry puts him behind the power curve in competing for available endorsements and contributions. In addition, he will find it difficult to compete for air time because the mainstream media will focus primarily on the prominent Republican and Democratic candidates. He will also find it useful to better shape and direct his contentious nature this time out.

Prognosis: Should be a slam dunk for the AIP gubernatorial nomination. Daniel DeNardo, another Anchorage resident, has run several campaigns for elective office himself, and has even argued before the Supreme Court. While clearly articulate and intelligent, when DeNardo runs for office, he tends to be a single-issue candidate and his platform has a conspiratorial bent. And since he has run unsuccessfully in the past, the media will tag him with the dreaded label of "perennial candidate". These two factors will tend to marginalize him. However, DeNardo will finish ahead of Don Wright, a Fairbanks resident who failed to show up for Channel 7's Running last time he ran for governor and also failed to submit a bio for the Election Guide mailed to every Alaskan household. Until he proves otherwise, Wright must be considered a non-starter.

Troy Maulden, who was already a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, announced his switch to the Alaska Independence Party banner via e-mail last night (Thurday). Formerly a resident of Anchorage, he moved to the Mat-Su Valley this past winter. Single, and the former owner of a string of coffee stands in Anchorage. Click here for his campaign website.

Maulden first surfaced as a candidate in 2004 when he ran for one of the Midtown Anchorage Assembly seats, finishing third in a four-person race including the winner, Dan Coffey, former incumbent Doug Van Etten, and Stephen Johnston, a community council president. He tried it again in 2005, this time against incumbent Dick Traini, who easily won re-election. In the process, Maulden leapfrogged to a second place finish and 24% of the vote, ahead of Mark Fish. Sandwiched in between was a stint as the Midtown Community Council president.

Maulden is a genuine conservative, espousing less government, lower taxes, and quality education. He proposes to be an advocate for veterans and seniors, to grow the economy, and to use a portion of the windfall derived from sustained high oil prices to ensure affordable health care for all Alaskans. He switched to the AIP because he believes the Republican Party is no longer conservative, that it has become a big-spending big government party. And when we see Republican lawmakers voting for oppressive measures like bicycle helmet laws and expanding seat belt laws, he has a point.

Challenges: His biggest challenge is to correct the image of instability generated by constantly changing his mind about what office to run for. He was already marginalized by KFQD's conservative shock-jock Dan Fagan, who only refers to him as "the other guy". During the past six months, he first proposed to run for the Anchorage School Board, then switched to House District 25, then, after his move to Wasilla, the Lieutenant Governor's race as a Republican. Now he's running as an AIP candidate. The challenge is to transform that image of instability into an image of flexibility, and to market this flexibility as a critical attribute of leadership. The Lieutenant Governor does more than just show up for weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs; he also supervises the Division of Elections, and, most importantly, is a heartbeat away from becoming the Big Kahuna himself. It requires a better relationship with the Governor than that manifested between Loren Leman and Frank Murkowski.

Prognosis: Despite his marginalization by the establishment and by hard-core liberals, Maulden has more recent name recognition than his AIP opponent, so he must be established as a slight favorite. However, Douglas L. Welton is no political virgin himself. A resident of Fairbanks, he's been all over the map politically, running unsuccessfully as a Democrat against Republican Gene Therriault in then-House District 33 in 1998, and then finishing second in the Republican primary behind Hugh Fate but ahead of Anthony Martin for the same seat in the 2000 Republican primary.

Would I Vote For This Tag Team in the General Election?: Only if the Republican nominee was someone other than Sarah Palin and the Democratic nominee was Eric Croft. The most important task in this upcoming election is to STOP TONY KNOWLES! If Knowles is the Democratic nominee, then a vote for anyone other than the Republican nominee will enable Tony Knowles to slop his way into the Governor's Mansion for a third time. We cannot afford four years of "no-growth".

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