Saturday, April 25, 2009

Will Ted Stevens' Endorsement Be A Double-Edged Sword For Anchorage Mayoral Candidate Dan Sullivan?

On April 22nd, 2009, the Anchorage mayoral runoff campaign, which had barely been running at a fast idle with Dan Sullivan and Eric Croft occasionally jousting with each other over taxes, suddenly jumped into gear when both candidates announced their latest endorsements.

Democratic candidate Croft announced his endorsement by the Anchorage Education Association (AEA), which has 3,500 members. The AEA says Croft favors education more than Sullivan. "The three main education issues we had included the return to the defined benefit retirement system, school funding, and a seat for labor at the table," AEA President Jim Lepley said. Croft also reminded people of his support by the firefighters and the National Rifle Association. In addition, Sen. Mark Begich hosted a fundraiser for Croft, although he awarded no official endorsement.

Republican candidate Sullivan picked up an endorsement from the Municipal Tax Payers League of Anchorage. "Mr. Sullivan set himself apart indicating the best value for the taxpayer can be found in reducing the amount of work done by the municipality in favor of more work being transferred to the private sector," said Neil Nichols with the tax payers league.

But it's an endorsement picked up by Dan Sullivan on Friday April 24th that may be a double-edged sword. Sullivan earned the endorsement of none other than former Senator Ted Stevens, who's back in the state after his lengthy ordeal with the Department of Justice. On Thursday April 23rd, Stevens received a warm welcome and an award in Kodiak from the United Fishermen of Alaska, who named him to their Seafood Hall of Fame. And Stevens was no less welcome at Dan Sullivan's Friday fundraiser, where he was the primary speaker.

"The Sullivans have always been there for me and I'm proud to be here urge you to support Dan Sullivan," Stevens said to the crowd. Stevens had little to say about the trail except to "keep going no matter what happens and you'll win." He also thanked Alaskans for their prayers. Stevens and his wife Catherine earlier backed it up by each contributing $500 to Sullivan's campaign. KTUU news video embedded below:

Dan Sullivan says he was honored to have Stevens support. "He's very believed," Sullivan said. "He's been a leader in this state and in this country, and in the world for 40 years. To have someone like that give you their vote of confidence I'm not sure there's anything better."

But although Dan Sullivan has Ted Stevens and the elite marshaling their forces behind him, the same cannot necessarily be assumed of rank-and-file Anchorage residents, if a KTUU "unscientific" poll taken April 23rd is to be believed. According to this poll, 70 percent of respondents said that they'd be less likely to vote for Dan Sullivan if he received Ted Stevens' endorsement. Granted, the poll was neither restricted to registered Anchorage voters nor even Alaska residents, so it undoubtedly is exaggerated, but it cannot be ignored.

But once you narrow it down to Anchorage voters alone, I would bet it would only be one out of three who'd be less likely to vote for Sullivan. And most of those are probably voting for Croft, anyway. So the Stevens' endorsement is unlikely to hurt Sullivan, so long as he reminds voters that Stevens' conviction was completely set aside, he's got a clean record, and a few bookkeeping errors do not cancel out 40 years of dedicated service to the people of Alaska.

Sullivan and Croft are slated to square off in three more candidate debates:

-- Alaska Native Professional Association Mayoral Forum, ChangePoint Church, 6689 ChangePoint Dr., Monday April 27th, 11:30 A.M.-1:00 P.M.
-- AARP Candidate Debate, Central Middle School, 1405 E St., Thursday April 30th, 6-8 P.M.
-- KTUU Channel 2 Debate, Saturday May 2nd, 6-7 P.M.

Election information can be found HERE. Information on candidates at the following links:

-- Dan Sullivan:
---- Official campaign website HERE.
---- December 2007 press release outlining his vision HERE.
---- KTUU Channel 2 profile with video HERE.
---- Anchorage Press profile on Sullivan HERE.
---- KSKA Interview accessible HERE.
-- Eric Croft:
---- Official campaign website HERE.
---- Myspace website HERE.
---- KTUU Channel 2 profile with video HERE.
---- Anchorage Press profile on Croft HERE.
---- Alaska Dispatch profile on Croft HERE.
---- KSKA Interview accessible HERE.
---- List of individual contributors to Croft's campaign (3-7 thru 3-28) HERE.

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