Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Alaska Governor-Elect Sarah Palin Sets Forth Initial Agenda

Newly-elected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (pictured at left courtesy of Sarah Palin's Campaign Website) began organizing her transition team and setting forth her initial agenda today (November 8th), after celebrating a hard-won victory at the polls last night. Up by as many as 15 points in the early returns, she ultimately defeated Democrat Tony Knowles by 8 percentage points. Stories from KTUU Channel 2 HERE and HERE. Also click HERE for an excellent post-election analysis by the Anchorage Daily News.

Governor-elect Palin selected the experienced Mike Tibbles to manage her transition team. Tibbles once worked as a staffer for former State Representive Bill Williams of Saxman (near Ketchikan). He also served on the National Conference of State Legislatures Leadership Staff Section Executive Committee from 1999-2001. In 2004, Governor Frank Murkowski selected him to be his Deputy Commissioner of Education. Tibbles later left to work on the Binkley campaign, then joined the Palin campaign after Binkley lost the primary election. This could fuel speculation about the possibility that John Binkley could join the Palin Administration in some capacity. Tibbles appears to have all the right connections and experience to manage this task effectively.

Governor-elect Palin then announced that one of her highest priorities is to sell the state-owned jet that Governor Murkowski purchased at the cost of considerable credibility. KFQD's talk show host Dan Fagan also disclosed that Palin's other two early priorities are to restore the Longevity Bonus and to restore revenue-sharing with Alaska's communities. Both programs were discontinued by Frank Murkowski early in his administration when oil prices were still low and money was tight.

She also plans to get to work on the natural gas pipeline contract straightaway. According to another story in the Anchorage Daily News, Palin hopes to meet as soon as possible with oil giants BP, Conoco Phillips and Exxon Mobil, the North Slope's three biggest producers. Palin has vowed to hold a wide-open competition for anyone with a pipeline proposal, which could bring in Canadian pipeline operator TransCanada Corp. and the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, which have project ideas or routes that differ from that of the "Big Three". The port authority proposes an "all-Alaska" pipeline that would extend from the North Slope to a tanker port on the southern coast, rather than crossing into Canada as the oil companies have proposed.

Palin hasn't laid out a timeline for her gas pipeline plan. However, when the legislature begins a new session in January, Palin said her administration would introduce a bill laying out key requirements as well as incentives for any pipeline applicant. She will be leaving oil taxes out of the equation to avoid the troublesome 30-year tax freeze proposed by Murkowski to allay producers' concerns about a surprise oil tax hike after they invest billions in a gas pipeline.

On a more personal note, Sarah's husband, Todd Palin (pictured at left, courtesy of KTUU), was asked what title he would assume as husband to the governor.

When Sarah was mayor, all my good buddies had all kinds of good names for me, so they could throw whatever they want to throw at me,” said Todd Palin. The prevailing moniker for Todd Palin is “Alaska's first dude.” Todd Palin works for British Petroleum at a Prudhoe Bay processing facility. The Palins say with Todd moving to Juneau, he will likely give up his job.

Democrat Tony Knowles delayed conceding the election until the morning, not necessarily out of personal vindictiveness, but because votes from the rural areas, where he was strong, hadn't been counted yet. Knowles was somber but expressed satisfaction at his effort.

I can feel in my heart that we ran the best campaign we could have run. We were on message and we addressed the issues that were important to Alaskans,” said Knowles. The former governor said the message was a good one, but just not enough voters supported it. He said he has no regrets. “As a matter of fact, I know I would have more regrets if I had just sat on the sidelines. Alaska is not about sitting on the sidelines. It’s about jumping in and trying to do something positive,” Knowles concluded. He also said one problem may have been his late start in campaigning. He joined the race in May, seven months after Palin.

However, Independent Andrew Halcro was more upbeat, expressing satisfaction over his 10 percent share of the vote. “I think we ran a great campaign. Our media message was humorous, we made people think and that was our goal. We showed Alaskans that Andrew Halcro is a credible candidate,” he said. He also praised Palin. “I think Sarah's timing was impeccable. Politics, like life, is all timing and I think what happened is her candidacy came about when people really were tired of the old and wanted something new,” Halcro said.

During his appearance on Dan Fagan's talk show today, pollster Dave Dittman discussed some additional data that he could not disclose earlier on instructions from the Palin campaign, which commissioned his most recent poll. Dittman revealed that as recently as Friday (Nov. 3) , Tony Knowles had actually crept to within one percentage point of Palin (which is what the Oct. 29 Rasmussen poll must have picked up). Dittman and Fagan opined that Knowles' last minute aggressive tactics may have cost him.

Here are the final totals from the Alaska Division of Elections website:


Sarah Palin (R) - 48.51%%
Tony Knowles (D) - 40.73%
Andrew Halcro (Ind) - 9.59%
Don Wright (AkIP) - 0.51%
Billy Toien (Lib) - 0.28%
David Massie (GRN) - 0.23%

U.S. House:

Don Young (R) - 56.64%
Diane Benson (D) - 40.07%
Alexander Crawford (Lib) - 1.67%
Eva Ince (GRN) - 0.71%
William Ratigan (Impeach Now) - 0.69%
Write-In - 0.22%

Most of the write-in votes most likely were for declared write-in candidate Patrick McGonagel.

Ballot Measure One: To reduce the length of the state legislative session from 120 days to 90 days:

Yes - 51.02%
No - 48.98%

Ballot Measure Two: Institute a gas reserves tax on the oil companies on unexploited leaseholdings.

No - 65.72%
Yes - 34.28%

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