She then asked the crowd to help her out on what she might do next in the political arena.
After describing what she thinks she could bring to the job of Lieutenant Governor, she asked the crowd to let her know what they thought of the idea. Quickly, the entire room stood for her, applauding loudly. Gubernatorial candidate Bob Poe, the only current candidate for that office attending, was the second or third person to stand for her.
She was convinced enough to then announce her candidacy.
Both AK Muckraker from The Mudflats and Linda Kellen from Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis were there. AKM wrote on her laptop through the speech.
KTUU TV was there. They stated that the Benson announcement will probably lead their evening news today.
No other Alaska media appeared to be present. The Anchorage Daily News' Sean Cockerham has posted a blog entry, though.
It was a remarkable showing of interest and support for such a dangerous and difficult driving day, with near-record snowfall throughout parts of southcentral Alaska. Here's a picture I took, going up the opposite side of Brakelight Hill, on my way in:
Update - Friday 11:00 a.m: AK Muckraker's account of yesterday's announcement has been posted at The Mudflats:
She started off witha a great talk about women in politics in Alaska. She noted that despite the fact that Alaskan women lead the nation in rates of professional jobs, we elect few women to executive positions and we have never elected a progressive woman to statewide office. We lack a Women’s Commission in the state, and we have no women’s caucus in the state legislature.
She also spoke at length about her own experience after getting dissed by the Alaska Ear on Sunday. She talked about her experience as a mother, managing a home, directing and overseeing a large number of events for the Arctic Winter Games, a NOW conference, and a huge amount of volunteer work. She has been an outspoken advocate on the issue of violence against women, and has been involved in advocacy, teaching, public speaking, holding workshops and being featured in several publications. She’s taught upper division courses at UAA about Native women surviving violence, and women and social action. She served two terms in the Alaska Native Sisterhood, and served on the board of Healing Racism in Anchorage. She also was featured prominently in the PBS documentary “For the Rights of All” where she played the role (brilliantly) of Alaska Native civil rights pioneer Elizabeth Peratrovich.
She talked about Governor Sean Parnell’s recent moves toward addressing the issue of violence against women in the state, and noted that it was well past time that this became a political issue that got some attention. She noted that Parnell’s plan fails to address the cause. “We don’t just need more arrests and more shelters,” she said. “We need it to stop.” This happens through education, addressing the issues in the open and talking about it, supporting drug and alcohol treatment, addressing wage equity, affordable child care, and good mental health treatment. She also suggested that forming a Women’s Commission is in order. What is good for women is good for society as a whole and everyone benefits.
She talked about our former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan and his great idea about having teams of judges and law enforcement that work together on sexual assault issues. Restructuring into localized teams improves response times and gets help to victims more quickly.
Then she shared a fact that stunned the room. Anchorage right now has forensic rape kits that it has not tested. Victims do all the things they are supposed to do, samples are taken and they are sitting there unlooked at, untested. The city doesn’t even know how many of these untested kits have been set aside. Why are they not being tested? Lack of funds. What does that say about our priorities?
Palin chose to charge the victims of rape to have their evidence examined and their rape kits tested. We don’t charge the families of murder victims for forensic tests. “How is it just to charge a victim, or to just disregard evidence altogether? Do only those with money have justice? If protection of our citizens is not a fundamental priority, then what is?” Benson asked.
In the 2008 election, she was advised not to talk about these things because she’d be considered a “one issue candidate.” The election cycle before, she was accused of being a “one issue candidate” about veterans’ issues. She was accused of being a “one issue candidate” about the war. All of these are important issues and we need to talk about them.
Read AKM's entire account of the Bartlett Club meeting and announcement!