Alaska's civil rights, women's rights pioneer, and progressive activist, Diane Benson, will be this week's featured speaker at the Bartlett Democratic Club in Anchorage. According to the Club, Diane Benson will be announcing her 2010 political plans.
In 2006 Benson won the Democratic Party primary for the AK-AL (Alaska At-Large) U.S. House seat, going on to take over 40% of the votes against Don Young, while spending only 8% of what Young spent.
In 2008, Benson lost in the primary to former Minority Leader of the Alaska House of Representatives, Ethan Berkowitz, in a race that showed both candidates' views on issues to scores of thousands of Alaskans, and drew respect for Benson from Berkowitz, and from Alaska Democratic Party leaders, who are finally paying closer attention to this remarkable fighter.
Since the 2008 campaign, Benson has finished her work as writer and actress in the groundbreaking dramatized documentary, For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska, which premiered in Alaska last month and is set for its national PBS premiere in February. Benson has also been serving on various civil rights and women's rights groups, and was highly visible and vocal in the Anchorage struggle for equal rights for the LBGTQ community, in the fight for passage of Ordinance #64. Since the beginning of the current academic year, Benson has also been teaching two courses at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Last spring I told Diane that whichever campaign she decides to enter for 2010, she can count on my help, if she wants it. She then told me, "I'm not sure if I'm done with Don."
Over the summer and fall, as three outstanding Democrats filed for the 2010 Alaska gubernatorial race, many have suggested she might be the ideal candidate for Lieutenant Governor. She ran for that office in 2002, on a ticket headed by Native Alaskan Rights activist, Desa Jacobson. In Benson's 2006 and 2008 races, she showed strength in parts of Alaska that sometimes haven't done well for Democrats. Additionally, through her continuing volunteer work on armed forces and Veterans issues, she does very well among the largest Veteran population per capita in the United States.