Anchorage Mayor and Democratic Party U.S. Senate candidate Mark Begich had his second Blue America session this morning at the high-traffic, progressive blog, firedoglake. Mark's internet guru Matt Browner Hamlin assisted from the Anchorage campaign office, while Mark blogged away happily in Cordova, where he's on a campaign stop.
When Montana Sen. Jon Tester was in Alaska with Begich, last month, they had a similar session at the blog. Jon and Mark had to leave early, so the session wasn't very effective. This one was, though.
Begich stayed for the whole two-hour affair, answering scores of questions about his stand on important issues. Mark probably raised a couple of thousand dollars. He seemed very comfortable with the casually serious questions presented by bloggers from around the country. And, perhaps, more importantly, Begich established some creds for his upcoming appearance at Netroots Nation next week. Mark is listed as a speaker, and will be participating in the Energizing America: Setting an Agenda for Progress session there.
At the firedoglake Blue America session this morning, Begich was asked early on, "looks like there will be several new Democratic faces in Alaska this year, do you think the Dems will take the House seat also?"
Mark responded, "we have a competitive race for the House. Either Ethan or Diane will beat Don Young. This year Alaska’s politics are changing dramatically."
Later on in the session, a couple of others wanted more detail from Begich on this issue, but he was going out the door to tour the Cordova Small Boat Harbor by then. A couple of times during the session, it was probably made clear to Mark that this crowd is far more sympathetic to Benson than to Berkowitz. It wasn't explicit, but the issues that came up were far more in line with Benson's platform than Berkowitz's.
For instance, the session's host, Howie Klein, who also hosts Down With Tyranny, wrote, in regard to the FISA fiasco in Congress last week, and Ted Stevens' support from the telecon industry that the legislation had let off the hook for multiple criminal acts, "when it came to buying votes, the Big Telecoms Big Three (other than presidential candidates, McCain being #1, of course) were Jay Rockefeller ($51,500), Rahm Emanuel ($49,950) and Ted Stevens ($41,400). Those 3 got the most money and those three worked very, very hard to get their patrons retroactive immunity."
As Progressive Alaska readers know, I've been trying to educate Alaskans on how bad Rahm Emanuel, Ethan Berkowitz's biggest supporter, is. Believe me, in Austin, next week, Mark Begich will hear and learn more. Ethan is not listed as an attendee. Nor is Diane Benson.
firedoglake folks raised over $8,000 for Diane Benson in 2006, and probably another $5,000 or so this cycle. Berkowitz may have raised some money there, but I doubt it.
Mark Begich understands and uses the internet better than any other high-profile candidate in Alaska history. He's also very comfortable on the air locally, especially in the right-wing AM talk radio format, where he sometimes shows up to defend his work within minutes of an important issue emerging. No doubt, in Austin next week, he'll be asked to comment at some time about the TOOBZ.
image - Mark Begich at Cordova Small Boat Harbor yesterday - from Howie klein