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PALIN CANDIDACY PUTTING PEOPLE BEFORE PARTY

Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman (Editorial)
Feb. 19, 2006

Editorial as printed February 19, 2006

How does someone who's been out of public office for 15 years step back into the spotlight and attract $350,000 in contributions in six weeks?

There may be more than seven months left before Alaskans choose a new governor, but this is a question voters should be thinking about today.

The money raised belongs to the campaign of Republican candidate for governor John Binkley.

A wealthy Fairbanksan and friend of Gov. Frank Murkowski whose party credentials include service on the state central committee, Binkley represents the “party first, people second” mindset that prioritizes money and power over the interests of the people of Alaska.

It is this same mindset that continues to encourage fealty to party chairman Randy Ruedrich, whose ethical shortcomings are well-documented, yet conveniently ignored by those at the local level who see nothing hypocritical in screaming about the perceived ethical lapses of others.

Political “machines” are not new to the process. Greased by big money and fortified by favoritism and political opportunism, this kind of infrastructure, whether Republican or Democrat, shares a common purpose - retention and extension of power.
Somewhere along the line, the interests of regular people get shunted off to the back burner.

This year, Alaskans have an opportunity to say “enough is enough.” While Binkley and his posse schmooze at big-bucks fund-raisers with deep-pocketed and self-interested contributors, former Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin is out taking her message of change to regular Alaskans of all political stripes.

The first Republican to announce candidacy for governor, Palin has raised a fraction of Binkley's haul - just over $100,000. While this may seem to cast her as the early underdog, it is prudent to remember that the candidate with the most votes - not dollars - wins elections.

A look at Palin's recently released campaign filing with the Alaska Public Offices Commission shows a long and diverse list of small-check donors and a notable lack of larger contributions, which may betray special- interest power-brokering.

Further investigation of APOC's online records, which can be found at www.state.ak.us/apoc, show that many of Palin's contributors have never given money to a political candidate before.

In these days of low voter turnout and increasing cynicism about the process, Palin's grass-roots appeal is encouraging. A warrior on the ethics battlefield who has already set herself apart from the “more of the same” gang, as she calls them, by taking on Ruedrich and former attorney general Gregg Renkes, Palin has proven she is more than just talk.

Her stated desire to clean up her party and put state government back in the hands of the people of Alaska are no small tasks, to be sure. Big changes will be required. But if Palin's early fund-raising efforts are any indication, these are changes that Alaskans are hungry for.


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