Monday, April 05, 2010

Alaska Republican Lieutenant Governor Race A Three-Way Tussle Once Again; Mat-Su Assemblyman Mark Ewing Joins Jay Ramras And Eddie Burke

Update May 9th: Mark Ewing announced on May 6th that he is dropping out of the race for lieutenant governor. Instead, he will be supporting a new entrant, Mead Treadwell, so it is still a Republican "threesome".

As some predicted, it wasn't long after Craig Campbell bowed out of the Republican race for Lieutenant Governor that it became a three-way tussle once again. Joining Jay Ramras and Eddie Burke in the fight is Mat-Su Borough Assemblyman Mark Ewing, according to ADN's Alaska Politics blog. Ewing has a Facebook page HERE.

Ewing, 54, backs the pipeline idea long boosted by GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker, even if it requires investing up to $6 billion in public funds to get the project going. He prefers the idea of a 48-inch diameter line to a liquification export plant in Valdez, with a spur to the Cook Inlet area from Glennallen, which would direct most of the pipeline’s costs to Asian gas markets, believing that this would make gas more affordable to Alaskans. He said the smaller 24-inch diameter in-state “bullet line” from the North Slope to Kenai, an idea with some momentum in the Alaska Legislature, would prove too costly for local gas consumers. Ewing also describes himself as a pro-development conservative who is also environmentally-conscious; he tries to do what’s best for the common man on the assembly.

Ewing did not coordinate his plans with Bill Walker in advance, and hasn't sought Walker's endorsement. Walker intends to refrain from endorsing a candidate in the lieutenant governor primary, but is gratified that Ewing is campaigning on the pipeline.

Mark Ewing is married with three children. Unfortunately, he's known personal tragedy; in September 2009, one of his kids, 34-year-old Jeremy Ewing, was killed after breaking into a Palmer-area home to steal drugs. Mark Ewing said he believed his son acted as part of a ring set up by people he met while jailed at Palmer Correctional Center earlier in 2009. Mark said the shooting ended a turbulent life of frequent homelessness, run-ins with the law, and a recent diagnosis of severe mental illness. As a result of this experience, we can expect Mark Ewing to take an active interest in homeless issues and work to overturn legislation that makes it difficult for families to get mental health treatment for loved ones older than 18.

Ewing also deserves credit for having wised up to Vic Kohring earlier than most other Valley politicos. In May 2007, while still a member of the Wasilla City Council, Ewing launched a recall campaign against Kohring, alleging that he had lost the trust of voters. This was shortly after allegations of corruption first surfaced; subsequent events in Kohring's life made the recall redundant and showed Ewing to be prescient. Good judgment is part and parcel of service in elective office.

Prognosis: Mark Ewing is more likely to appeal to the same stratum of working-class Republicans who also support Eddie Burke. He could capture the votes of those who like what Burke stands for, but who might prefer an advocate who they perceive is a bit more restrained in his discourse. This means that the elite candidate, Jay Ramras, may stand to benefit. This needs to be prevented; if Jay Ramras is to become elected our next lieutenant governor, he should have to earn the office, not buy it.

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