Here is the article I wrote early this week for democrats.com, on Diane Benson:
In Alaska, the state tied most closely, in the national political climate, to corruption, two credible candidates have emerged to challenge the structural problems that led to so much unbridled fraud and naked venality.
On the Right, current Governor Sarah Palin emerged two years ago, to challenge big oil's longtime dominance of the state's executive branch. On the Left, Diane Benson emerged around the same time, to challenge both Alaska GOP Rep. Don Young for his seat in the U.S. Congress, and her own party, the Alaska Democrats.
Shortly after her U.S. Army Ranger son was grievously injured outside Baghdad in late 2005, Diane Benson discovered that the Alaska Democrats didn't contemplate putting up a credible challenge to Alaska Rep. Don Young in the 2006 race. After watching her son's recovery at or near Walter Reed Army Medical Center, near Young's DC office, seeing the neglect suffered by our wounded warriors, and experiencing Young's indifference to Alaska's wounded, Benson entered the race.
Defeating Alaska's most notable muckraker, Ray Metcalfe, in the 2006 primary, Benson crafted a grassroots general campaign that forced Young to make more public campaign appearances than any year since 1992. Benson attacked Young fearlessly, bringing to light Young's many contacts with and favors to now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. She forced Young into more debates than he had ever done before. Outspent almost ten to one by Young, Benson garnered about 41% of the 2006 vote. All this before many of the more recent revelations about Young came to light.
It was by far the closest threat Young had endured since 1992. Alaska's Democratic Party gave Benson's 2006 campaign the least help possible, selling her outdated voter information at a high price, and only giving her about $10,000 so late in the campaign it made little or no difference. The closeness of her run to Young was a wake-up call to political opportunists, though.
The Chairman of the Alaska Democrats in 2006, Jake Metcalfe, who had deferred to DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel's advice then not to support Benson, resigned his chair in early August 2006, and filed for the House seat from Washington, DC, the next day. Benson had already filed for the 2008 race in late spring. In late fall, ex-Alaska state legislator, Ethan Berkowitz, filed for the seat.
Jake Metcalfe's campaign spun out in early May. Ethan Berkowitz's campaign has been very well funded, especially by a long list of DINOs, lobbyists, and such.
Diane Benson's campaign has attracted the support of progressive organizations like the National Women's Political Caucus (and its Alaska chapter), the National Organization of Women, 21st Century Democrats, former Senator Max Cleland, and Emily's List. Why?
Diane Benson's platform is the most progressive of any major candidate in Alaska history. She seeks a comprehensive solution to the medical care crisis that would mandate care for everyone, as it strives toward a single payer model.
Her campaign platform is the only one in Alaska to address the issue of poverty, a serious problem in parts of the state, both urban and rural.
Her approach toward education not only directly seeks to immediately dismantle No Child Left Behind, but hopes to revolutionize rural education and vocational education, and calls for long-term partnerships on educating comprehensively in the realm of renewable energy technologies, research and resources. She has stated that "Alaska could be Iceland on steroids!"
On Veterans' issues, on the wars, and on American foreign affairs and diplomacy, Diane Benson is not only quite progressive, her plans and platform are detailed, rational. She wants a safe, quickly staged withdrawal from Iraq, a sane effort in Afghanistan, and a far less confrontational American military stance, but one based upon real strength.
On women's issues, Diane Benson is one of the most dynamic candidates running for the U.S. House in the country. Her speech to the 2008 Alaska Democratic Party Convention was one of the most important speeches on women's issues in Alaska history.
Her appearances at several candidate forums alongside the other primary challenger, Ethan Berkowitz, have shown her to be formidable, sometimes overshadowing Ethan Berkowitz in her knowledge and pragmatic solutions on issues and to problems.
As the list of questionable contributors to Berkowitz's campaign seems to grow daily, and as more GOP-tied crooks are indicted almost daily in Alaska, Diane Benson's strong commitment to campaign finance reform is gaining traction.
Here are some hallmarks of her 2006 and 2008 campaigns:
Diane Benson was the first to publicly detail the depth and breadth of Don Young's ties to Jack Abramoff.
Diane Benson was the first to publicly demand an investigation into Rep. Don Young's unconstitutional changes to the 2005 Omnibus Transportation Bill (Coconut Road).
Diane Benson was the first candidate in the USA to address the disparity in VA care between rural Native Americans and other rural Veterans.
Diane Benson, after publication of an article in the Anchorage Daily News, detailing Benson's long-time advocacy for and volunteer work with victims of Sexual abuse and domestic violence, turned the disclosure around, giving her campaign another area upon which to focus. Alaska's sexual violence against women is by far the worst in the USA, against Native Alaskan women, even worse. And it isn't getting better, but worse. Benson wants to fight for these women.
Diane Benson was the first 2008 Alaska candidate to openly endorse the Alaskans for Clean Elections ballot initiative.
Diane Benson has refused contributions from lobbyists and PACs which include lobbyists. As Howie Klein writes, they've found another candidate - Ethan Berkowitz - more than willing to take every dime they'll send him.
Diane Benson, time and time again, has held developers and potential developers to a high standard of accountability, questioning some proposals in greater detail than even the state's government itself.
Diane Benson, in her fight against the corrupt paradigm represented by Don Young, and in her present struggle against the old school DINO establishment, has shown herself to be one of the most noteworthy candidates in the United States. Just last week, The Nation's editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, recognized this, in a detailed profile of the candidate.
Please join us in supporting Diane Benson here.
The Alaska Democratic Party Primary is Tuesday, August 26.