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Parent of a High School Graduate

There have been numerous times over the course of my life when I have felt old.  The first time my back gave out quickly comes to mind.   I also began feeling older when I gained weight even with diet and exercise.

But this past weekend put it into an entirely new stratosphere. 

My weekend kicked off on Thursday morning as I made the trek north to take my daughter to her college orientation.  This program goes under the guise of providing information to parents and students as they enter college.  What it really does is drive home the fact that I am closer to retirement than I am to entering the workplace.

When we arrived on campus, parents and children (that’s what they are) walked together toward the auditorium.  It felt like just yesterday when my parents brought me to my college orientation – now here I am partaking in a new family ritual. 

My problem is that many of these parents looked like parents or even grandparents while I still consider myself a 25 year old guy nowhere near old enough to have a child let along a college student. 

Of course, I probably look like many of these parents.  The appearance of age caused by time and worry in both my face and posture.  Time, I can do nothing about.   Worry, on the other hand, caused by money, family health and of course, parenting.   I won’t even begin to discuss my weight.

These same children who brought me joy, happiness and laughter have also provided me with stress, loss of sleep and wrinkles.  {I’d take that deal any day.}

Some of the orientation schedule paired the kids with the parents.  Those sections felt like pep rallies with give-aways, speeches by athletics coaches and bullhorns, bullhorns and more bullhorns.

With the kids on their own to tour the campus, meet with advisors and fill out schedules for summer and fall, the parents had their own presentations.  We heard about financial items, campus life, what our children will expect and we toured the campus, including the dorms.  

Parents had their own give-away.  A couple of presenters began throwing what appeared to be t-shirts into the crowd.  I caught one of the last ones tossed.  Upon grabbing it, I found that it was lighter and had the wrong material to be a t-shirt.  I opened up my new possession and discovered it to be a laundry bag with the school name on it.  It’s something the kids need but they knew enough to give them to the parents.

After 2 days – yes, this went on for 2 days – parents, whom I didn’t know, asked me if I felt the program was too long.  I did, especially during the hour long financial discussion when my jimmy-legs started acting up.  I needed a walk badly.

I have 2 more trips planned to the university this year.  Later this month, I take my daughter to school and help her move into the dorm and get settled for the summer term.  This trip will be the most exhausting and emotional vacation of my life.  It is a weeklong trip where I say goodbye to my daughter for about 6 weeks – the longest I have ever been apart from her AND it is a college tour trip where I take my son on a 5 day – 5 college tour covering 1,500 miles in Florida. 

The other trip is in August where I move her in for the school year.  More stuff, longer time apart and more emotion.  It concludes with a 5 hour drive home . . . alone.

*  *  *  *  *  *

My weekend continued on Saturday – after arriving home from the university, I attended a high school graduation party for my daughter’s boyfriend.  It turned out to be a very nice evening even though I was thoroughly exhausted.

My weekend concluded with Graduation Day!   I literally ran all over town before the graduation {too much to include here} and I was ready for a nap {another sign of age} even before the 3 pm start time.

Since this school has the largest graduating class in the country – over 1,200 students – I knew this ceremony would be L-O-N-G.  Pomp and Circumstance took a while as all twelve hundred students entered the arena to take their seats.  There was about an hour of pre-speeches – the principal, school board members, the valedictorian and salutatorian and a video of well-known people providing well-wishes to the graduating class. 

I brought reading material to keep me occupied during the long announcement of names but found that I was more interested in the kids reactions than I was in my book.

The realization of life as an empty nester (which is a year away) is now in my mind.  My daughter will now mostly only look to me for money and advice.  I know she’ll still appreciate the little things – like the small complement but as she prepares for college in a new city, it has become clear to me that my full parental requirements are no longer needed. 

My daughter has proven to me that she is ready for the challenge of living on her own.  Rather than dwell over this, I will attempt to celebrate this as a job well done by her parenting team and everyone else who touched her life, but most of all – my daughter.  She has developed maturity well beyond her almost 18 years and has tremendous poise.

I will miss seeing her on a regular basis but I look forward to hearing from her with updates as she experiences some of the best years of her life.

My 2 Buck$

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Back from a much needed vacation

The batteries are recharged. I’m feeling better already – except for the part about having to go back to work.

A one-week Caribbean cruise will do that to you. Sun – Music – Alcohol.

I did my best to avoid thinking about work. I recently changed positions in my company – remaining in the same department – taking on a ton more responsibility. I had been told that my previous position would likely be eliminated during 2009 if I didn’t make a move. So in staying within the department I was given an entire new list of job objectives that will require anywhere from 40-80 hours per week depending on the project lifecycle. And just for playing, I got to keep much of my old responsibilities – all for that special price of having a job at the same salary. Hurray! Where’s my Rice-a-roni – the San Francisco treat?

For the next 7 months, my job will increase in work and stress until I need another vacation. I hope to post as much as I can but employment comes first.

You may have noticed the reduction in posts over the recent weeks. You can blame the job – or thank the job to my friends who disagree with me. J

Back on the ship . . . Each morning, my cabin received an insert of New York Times articles. I bypassed anything that said Obama. I didn’t want to think of anything politics.

After returning home and unpacking, I checked my portfolio. BIG MISTAKE.

The market did well last week. Very well, in fact. Not my holdings. Some went up meekly while others held steady. And don’t get me started on the 2 that fell. And you called this a rally?

I haven’t caught up on the news yet with the exception of this Jim Cramer versus Jon Stewart extravaganza.

What’s next for My 2 Bucks?

I plan on continuing with my passions – politics and weird news stories. I also expect that I’ll need a stress relief so if need be, I may vent here. Then again, screaming in the car has done well for me so far.

The big news over the next few months is that my eldest child will be leaving for college in June. It has been recommended to me that I write about the experience as others may be sharing the same experiences. I may give that a whirl too.

When I started this site last May, I never intended to be solely a political blog. It just happened to turn into that (with the exception of hurricane season.)

So expect a brief review of my cruise and the ‘I can’t believe I missed this while on vacation’ post – if the news last week warranted that.

Senator Mel Martinez opts not to run for re-election in Florida

Huge news out of Florida.  Senator Mel Martinez WILL NOT run for re-election in 2010. 

The Hill is reporting that Martinez “announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in 2010, passing on what looked to be one of the most difficult reelection battles in the country.”

Republican Senator Martinez calls out lie by Cheney

Mel Martinez

The Republican Junior Senator from Florida really hadn’t been heard from during his 4 years in office.  The Cuban-born Martinez did weigh in on the illegal immigration issue as well as against the party’s ‘drill baby drill’ position until John McCain and Florida Governor Charlie Crist became supporters of off-shore drilling.

He had short runs as Housing and Urban Development secretary and as co-chair of the Republican National Committee when the party lost seats during the 2006 election.

During the 2004 Republican primary for the Senate, The St. Petersburg Times had endorsed Martinez against his opponent, Bill McCollum.  The Times retracted the endorsement after Martinez called McCollum “the new darling of the homosexual extremists.” 

Martinez’s had indicated his intention to run for re-election but was planning on making the announcement after the first of the year. 

His decision to forego the reelection bid makes the already difficult attempt at a Republican hold even more difficult.

There have already been a large number of Democrats whose names have been tossed about – Representatives Allen Boyd, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ron Klein, Robert Wexler and Kathy Castor and Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Wexler was an early Barack Obama supporter and was one of Congresses loudest voices pushing for the impeachments of Bush and Cheney.

Wasserman Schultz is best known in Congress as the person who threw the rubber stamps and declared that the former Republican Congress would not be a ‘rubber stamp Congress.’  She is also Chris Matthews’s favorite Congressional guest.  You have to watch him interview her.

Sink is a first term CFO and is married to former Florida Governor candidate, Bill McBride.

I would like to see either Wasserman Schultz or Wexler get the nod though I am a big fan of a person not on the initial list.  My personal choice is Daryl Jones.  He is a retired colonel in the Air Force and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives.  In 2002, he became the first African American to run for Florida governor in 2002 and the second chosen to run for lieutenant governor in 2006 (the only other African American was Republican David Montgomery in 1876.  Yes 1876)

The question is who will replace Martinez as the Republican candidate for the seat? 

Former Governor Jeb Bush comes to mind.  He needs somewhere to build up the Bush name again.  Bush, however, had already declined to run against Bill Nelson in 2006.

Will Katherine Harris have the stones to give it another try?  I seriously doubt it.          

MSNBC host of Morning Joe and former Congressman, Joe Scarborough was also approached about running in 2006.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he would give it a go this time.

My prediction is that U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV will go for that seat.  His father held the Senate seat now held by Bill Nelson.

Other names I can think of:  Current Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp and current Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (who twice failed in previous Senate runs, including the 2004 loss to Martinez).

I would love to see Rush Limbaugh throw his hat into the ring.  Rush lives in Palm Beach County.

In order to give the Republican the advantage in 2010, Martinez should resign the seat allowing Republican Governor Charlie Crist to appoint his replacement.

Sources:  Read Sen. Martinez won’t run for re-election in 2010 in The Hill

[Update] 

The spokesman for Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced today, “the congresswoman is very happy in the House of Representatives where she plans to continue to work on behalf of the people of Florida’s 20th Congressional District.”

The Sun-Sentinel provided some good analysis for Wasserman Schultz’s decision:

She’s chairwoman of a subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee. That position, known as one of the cardinals who make decisions on the federal budget, is extraordinarily powerful, and achieving it was a major feat for a junior member. And it puts her on the ladder that ultimately could see her ascend to the top levels of government in the House.

“Wasserman Schultz is also unabashedly liberal, something that puts her in sync with her South Florida district but might not sit so well with voters in a statewide election.” 

[Another update]

At 1:50 pm Bill McCollum has put out a statement.  If you recall from a few paragraphs up, McCollum was the one smeared by Martinez in 2004 and is currently Florida Attorney General.

“I have been asked today whether this announcement will have any effect on my plans for the future. At this point, my plan is – at the appropriate time – to announce my intention to seek re-election as Florida’s Attorney General. However, given today’s development, I will seriously consider and discuss with my family a race for this U.S. Senate seat, and we will share our decision at a later date.”

 

The Candy Cane is Mightier than the Knife

Never piss off or threaten someone with a Christmas lawn ornament. I bet Donald Kercell, of Sacramento, will be thinking of that the next time he wields a knife at neighbors who are gathered outside.

Donald Kercell

Donald Kercell

Kercell’s neighbors were hanging outside on Thanksgiving. Drunk and clearly stupid, he wandered over to their house going after them with a knife.

After cutting the clothing of a few of the neighbors (there were reports of minor injuries) one of them decided to fight back and pummeled Kercell into submission with a 2-foot long plastic candy cane lawn decoration.

Was that candy cane solid plastic or the kind made of thin plastic with the lights running through it? If it was the latter, there is no question that Mr. Kercell is the most pathetic individual of 2008. He was beaten to the ground by a fragile piece of plastic.

Why Kercell went over to the house is still unknown as of this writing but I have to figure that being alone and drinking on Thanksgiving could have played a part in the anger and then to see his neighbors having a jovial time out on the lawn could have set him off.

So now Kercell has something else to hang his head about. You have a knife and you getting beaten by a man with a piece of plastic. Good thing a garden gnome wasn’t involved.

candy-caneKercell was arrested for suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Meanwhile, the Candy Cane Vigilante was determined to be acting in self-defense and thus was not arrested.

So Christmas saves Thanksgiving for these Sacramento residents.

From the ‘I Swear I’m not Making this up’ file.

Sources:

Sweet Smackdown:  Man Beats Attacker — With Candy Cane

Attacker Beaten with Candy Cane, Police Say

* * * * *

Part II – So who exactly is Donald Kercell?

On May 19, 2007, The Sacramento Bee published a story written by Steve Wiegand, who probably never expected anyone to read this story a year and a half later.

A Concrete reform try in Danger describes Kercell as a then 48-year old concrete working meth-head.

May 19–Don Kercell thinks he’s earned a second chance.

The Contractors State License Board does not agree.

And therein lies a tale of choices and consequences; crime and punishment; addiction and rehabilitation; public protection and personal redemption — and second chances.

Kercell is a 48-year-old resident of Rio Linda. In his youth, he discovered two things. One was that he had a talent for working with concrete.

The other was methamphetamine.

The former, coupled with an impressive work ethic, kept Kercell gainfully employed much of the time. The latter put him in prison.

“I guess I started (doing meth) when I was 20,” he said in an interview. “I’ve done drugs half my life, but I’ve always worked.”

In 1995, at the age of 36, Kercell’s life hit the skids. Over the next decade, he was convicted of, and served time for, an array of crimes that included drug possession, possession of an assault weapon, battery and drug manufacturing.

While doing a three-year term at Soledad, he was pushed “kicking and screaming” into a full-time drug rehabilitation program.

“They had a lot of good things to say,” Kercell said. “There were some things I disagreed with, but the bottom line is I’m done with it, and I’ve been clean and done everything right since I got out.”

Kercell had previously done time – for battery. I also guess he was making his own meth. I am sad to report here that the last sentence is no longer true. Now he can add that he was beaten by a plastic candy cane to his list.

That was in March 2005. After working here and there, Kercell answered a help wanted ad placed by Jim Alexander Concrete Construction in September.

“I’d say 99 percent of the guys who answer those ads are worthless,” Alexander told me, “but it was clear from the start that Don knew what he was doing.”

Alexander said Kercell is not only a whiz when it comes to concrete work, but a model employee: “He hits the job running, he is reliable, he’s easygoing and he’s honest.”

In late 2005, Kercell decided to try and get his own concrete contractors license, as a way to make more money and be able to legally freelance side jobs while working for Alexander. He took a course to prep him for the exam, paid his fees, posted his bond and aced his test.

But the CSLB rejected his application. According to board spokesman Rick Lopes, it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to Kercell’s drug and prison past. Nearly a fifth of all license applicants have criminal histories, Lopes said. But fewer than 4 percent are denied licenses on that basis. Those denied fall into three general categories of offenses: burglary, consumer fraud and violent acts.

“Our main role is to protect consumers,” Lopes said, “and if there are concerns, we are always going to err on the side of not granting the license.”

The board’s concern that tripped up Kercell’s chances has to do with a fight he had nine years ago. In 1998, Kercell said, he was returning from visiting his mom in Arizona when he got into a fight with a Southwest Airlines flight attendant at the Sacramento airport.

Kercell says the other guy swung first. But airport security cameras weren’t working, and Kercell’s word as an ex-con was considered less than golden. Because he was already doing time on a parole violation, he agreed to plead no contest to the battery charge since he wasn’t facing any additional jail time.

“I never should have done it (pleaded out),” Kercell said. “I never would have if I’d known it would cause this trouble.”

Honest, hardworking and violent. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve seen a flight attendant take a swing at a customer.

On June 6, Kercell will take his appeal of the board’s denial before an administrative law judge. If the judge turns him down, Kercell’s only practical choice is to wait a few more months and reapply.

“All I want is a license,” he said. “I’m through with drugs, with all the trouble it causes.

“I just want a second chance.”

Now Kercell is going to get his second chance . . . . IN THE BIG HOUSE.

Replacing Congress – The Obama Administration

We seem to be unable to get enough of the election of Barack Obama. The media has been analyzing the type of presidency he will have, will he act Lincolnian and reach across the aisle to fill cabinet positions and will he be able to restore the country after 8 disastrous years.

Analysis is on-going over the Democratic swing in Congress (including the 3 Senatorial races yet to be decided in Alaska, Georgia and Minnesota).

What has not been talked about as much is who will step into the Congressional seats for the new administration. Illinois will be losing one Congressional seat as Rahm Emanuel becomes Obama’s Chief of Staff. This is in addition to the seat vacated by Senator Obama over the weekend (full text of Obama’s letter to the people of Illinois to follow).

Add to that the Delaware Senate seat soon to be vacated by Vice President-elect Joe Biden (still love saying this) and any elected officials selected by Obama for his cabinet. We know that New York Senator Hillary Clinton is among the names being considered for Secretary of State.

Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth

So who would replace Obama and Emanuel in Illinois? State law says that the governor will appoint a replacement to the Senate seat that is up for election in 2010. Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich has set up a panel that will vet the candidates.

The list includes – Representatives Jesse Jackson Jr., son of Rev. Jesse Jackson and Jan Schakowsky. If selected, this would vacate another Illinois congressional seat and the process would begin again. Also on the list are Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes, retiring state Senate President Emil Jones, state Senator Kwame Raoul, and Dan Seals, a marketing consultant.

My personal favorite is Illinois Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth who is a wounded Iraq War veteran. Duckworth is a decorated officer who lost both of her legs in Iraq. She would bring leadership and a passion for our troops to the Senate. She would be a spectacular choice to replace President-elect Obama.

On November 4th, Joe Biden was re-elected to a 7th term in the U.S. Senate. When Biden resigns his seat, it will be filled either by out-going two-term Governor Ruth Ann Minner or the in-coming Governor-elect Jack A. Markell. Both governors are Democrats and will be able appoint someone to fill the vacancy until a Special Election in 2010.

Beau Biden

Beau Biden

The name that is floating around and my personal choice is Joe Biden’s son, Beau.

Beau Biden (Joe Biden III) is the Attorney General of Delaware and is currently a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard serving in Iraq. The latter role is one of the obstacles in the process. According to military law, someone may not serve in elected office while serving in the military. Beau Biden has also indicated that he would prefer to win elected office rather than be appointed to it. He declined an appointment to Attorney General opting instead to run for the post.

Another option is Lt. Governor John Carney who lost the Democratic Party nomination for governor this year. He has already indicated an interest in the position as well as a desire to continue in the Senate beyond the 2010 special election.

Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel would be vacating his leadership in the House of Representatives to serve as Obama’s chief of staff. Blagojevich will have to set a special election to replace Emanuel. Rumors have circulated that Emanuel wants to serve as Obama’s chief of staff for just 2 years and then return to Congress.

It will be interesting to see who throws their hat into ring for this seat. A few names I have heard are former Emanuel aide, John Borovicka, Bill Dailey Jr. and Illinois state representative Sara Feigenholtz.

Finally, if Hillary Clinton is selected as Secretary of State or any other cabinet position, she will vacate her Senate seat. As a result, New York Governor David Paterson will have to select a replacement for Clinton until a Special Election in 2010 that would fill her seat for the final 2 years of her current term.

While I could sit here and wrack my brain over who the candidates are, I can really only come up with 2 suitable names. Actually, it is 2 people with only 1 suitable name: Kennedy. The leading choice is Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy. She is an attorney and an author who had endorsed Obama early in the campaign. Rumors have circulated that she may be selected for a post in Obama’s cabinet.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The other Kennedy is Robert Jr. Kennedy is an attorney and co-host of the Air America radio program, Ring of Fire. He had endorsed Hillary Clinton during the primaries. The seat Clinton current holds once belonged Kennedy’s father. He has 2 great political passions – the climate / environment and election integrity. Rumors have circulated that he is being looked at for a position on the Obama cabinet as well. Kennedy has said that the only way he would be interested in Clinton’s seat is if she became the president. I do believe that it would be fitting for RFK Jr. to hold the seat once held by his father.

As Obama’s administration takes shape over the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see what seats / positions open up along the way.

Sources:

Illinois Governor Eyes Obama Replacement –  RollCall.com

Sara Feigenholz’s letter of interest in Emanuel’s seat – posted on the Daily Kos

BY PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA

Today, I am ending one journey to begin another. After serving the people of Illinois in the United States Senate — one of the highest honors and privileges of my life — I am stepping down as senator to prepare for the responsibilities I will assume as our nation’s next president. But I will never forget, and will forever be grateful, to the men and women of this great state who made my life in public service possible.

More than two decades ago, I arrived in Illinois as a young man eager to do my part in building a better America. On the South Side of Chicago, I worked with families who had lost jobs and lost hope when the local steel plant closed. It wasn’t easy, but we slowly rebuilt those neighborhoods one block at a time, and in the process I received the best education I ever had. It’s an education that led me to organize a voter registration project in Chicago, stand up for the rights of Illinois families as an attorney and eventually run for the Illinois state Senate.

It was in Springfield, in the heartland of America, where I saw all that is America converge — farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. It was there that I learned to disagree without being disagreeable; to seek compromise while holding fast to those principles that can never be compromised, and to always assume the best in people instead of the worst. Later, when I made the decision to run for the United States Senate, the core decency and generosity of the American people is exactly what I saw as I traveled across our great state — from Chicago to Cairo; from Decatur to Quincy.

I still remember the young woman in East St. Louis who had the grades, the drive and the will but not the money to go to college. I remember the young men and women I met at VFW halls across the state who serve our nation bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I will never forget the workers in Galesburg who faced the closing of a plant they had given their lives to, who wondered how they would provide health care to their sick children with no job and little savings.

Stories like these are why I came to Illinois all those years ago, and they will stay with me when I go to the White House in January. The challenges we face as a nation are now more numerous and difficult than when I first arrived in Chicago, but I have no doubt that we can meet them. For throughout my years in Illinois, I have heard hope as often as I have heard heartache. Where I have seen struggle, I have seen great strength. And in a state as broad and diverse in background and belief as any in our nation, I have found a spirit of unity and purpose that can steer us through the most troubled waters.

It was long ago that another son of Illinois left for Washington. A greater man who spoke to a nation far more divided, Abraham Lincoln, said of his home, “To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything.” Today, I feel the same, and like Lincoln, I ask for your support, your prayers, and for us to “confidently hope that all will yet be well.”

With your help, along with the service and sacrifice of Americans across the nation who are hungry for change and ready to bring it about, I have faith that all will in fact be well. And it is with that faith, and the high hopes I have for the enduring power of the American idea, that I offer the people of my beloved home a very affectionate thanks.

Alaska at the polls – The numbers don’t add up

It’s strange writing about the political scene in Alaska without the subject being about Sarah Palin.

At first I thought the foul smell coming from the 49th state was a rotting moose carcass shot from a helicopter or maybe the First Dude spent too much time in the tanning bed.

Alaskan politics and corruption are obviously synonymous. But something is seriously wrong with their election.

Incentive to Vote

Alaskan voters had more reason to vote in this election than in recent memory.

Republican Congressman Don Young recently celebrated 35 years in office. This election cycle was to be more difficult for Young as he is under federal investigation for corruption involving VECO Corporation. His challenger was former state House minority leader Ethan Berkowitz who led in every poll before Election Day.

Republican Senator Ted Stevens or should I say Convicted felon Ted Stevens also trailed in the polls to Democratic Mayor of Anchorage Mark Begich. Stevens has been in office 40 years. For those of you living under a slain caribou the last 10 days, Ted Stevens was convicted on all 7 felony charges of giving false statements regarding the investigation involving – you guessed it – VECO Corporation. {An aside: I am sure Stevens will be pardoned by Bush before he leaves office on January 20th.}

If that wasn’t enough to motivate you to vote, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was atop the ticket as the running mate for GOP Presidential candidate John McCain. Polling had McCain – Palin leading by a wide margin over Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

 

By the Numbers

Registration was up in Alaska as it was throughout the entire United States. There were 30 thousand new registered voters since 2006 with this number somewhat split between Republicans and Democrats. There are 50 thousand more registered Republicans than Democrats which would – with all things being normal – have meant a cakewalk for the Republicans at the voting booth.

Alaskans Registered by Party:

RECOGNIZED POLITICAL PARTIES


STATEWIDE
TOTALS

TOTAL

Alaskan

Independence

Party

Democratic

Party

Libertarian

Party

Republican

Party

Nov 4, 2008

496,828

13,828

77,036

6,926

127,446

Nov 6, 2006

466,887

13,412

66,636

8,787

115,397

Nov 5, 2004

473,927

15,581

71,506

7,258

118,008

 

POLITICAL GROUPS


STATEWIDE
TOTALS

TOTAL

No

Party

Affiliation

Undeclared

Green

Party

Republican

Moderate

Veterans

Party

Nov 4, 2008

496,828

77,582

185,320

2,926

3,842

1,922

Nov 6, 2006

466,887

73,081

177,686

3,620

4,752

2,026

Nov 5, 2004

473,927

70,615

179,374

4,470

4,459

But all things aren’t normal this year. All 3 statewide Republican candidates were mired in scandal (Palin is still linked to Troopergate) and the polls support the uphill battles faced by both Young and Stevens. You would figure that at least one of the 2 would have been defeated.

Based on the current results, 305,281 Alaskans voted (early voting, absentee ballots or on Election Day). This is over 8,000 lower than the number in 2004. Add to this, there are 23,000 additional registered voters.

McCain – Palin actually received about 50,000 FEWER votes than the 2004 Bush – Cheney ticket.

This is the second LOWEST turnout for a general election in Alaska behind the 1996 Bill Clinton / Bob Dole race. The other 49 states achieved higher turnouts. How is this possible?

So with 4,000 more early voters this year (a 30% increase) and longer lines at the polls on Election Day, one must wonder how turnout actually DROPPED.

What Could Have Happened?

Did some Democrats stay home on Election Day as the results started filing in hours before the polls closed in Alaska? Not likely since early voting was up this year. In fact, 30% higher than in 2004.

Could voters have decided that with the corruption hanging over their 3 main political figures it was better to stay home to demonstrate their outrage? Actually, apathy would keep the voters home. Anger drives them to the polls to vote for the opponent.

Could the Republican voters have actually remained in support of Stevens and Young and were angry at the witch hunt (Palin pun kind of intended) against the 2 long serving Congressmen?

“Given that interest in this election could not, under any circumstances, have ever been greater this year than it was in other years, it’s almost inconceivable to imagine that the number of votes cast would drop” from 2004.  “It smells to me like you had a really, really, really weird turnout where all the Palin mothers and all the Ted Stevens supporters came flooding en masse out of the woodwork to make a point, and the Dems somehow sat on their hands and enjoyed the presidential news as it filtered up from the Lower 48 through the day,” David Dittman, Alaska pollster said.

Dittman predicted as the polls closed that Begich would beat Stevens by 8 points while Berkowitz would beat Young by 7. Instead, both Begich and Berkowitz trail the incumbents nearly a week later. And Young’s lead over Berkowitz is quite large.

How could he have been so wrong? Dittman has been forecasting Alaskan elections for 38 years!

Afterward, you look at it and say, ‘Holy cow! How could I have seen this coming?” said Dittman.

“I thought it was a mistake on the screen. I was totally surprised. I thought the state had made a mistake and had the candidates reversed,” he said.

We’ve seen strange results in elections for a number of years starting with Florida in 2000. Saxby Chambliss beat incumbent Max Cleland 6 years ago with questionable results. And the John Kerry loss in 2004 is a strange one as well.

And if you weren’t totally convinced that something was afoul, Alaska ballots are counted by Diebold.

Palin has gone back to her governor’s office with whatever Neiman Marcus clothes she could hide – as long as it wasn’t the Michael Jackson Thriller jacket – but the nation will be watching what comes out of the Stevens and Young races.

For more information on the races in Alaska visit:

Shannyn Moore – an Alaskan blogger

Brad Friedman at BradBlog

The ultimate joy ride

Our new president-elect and vice president-elect look pretty happy.  And who can blame them?

Good thing there are lids on their coffees. 

By the way, isn’t that Sarah Palin in that Coach store?

obama_driving

{If you see this picture without animation, click on the picture.}