The Murkowski and Miller ads are being paid for largely from out-of-state contributions. The Miller ads are going to be fed a huge transfusion, between now and November 2nd, from the billionaire Koch Brothers-controlled Tea Party Express. Had it not been for their July-August infusion of at least $600,000 into Miller's campaign, there would have been two people at last night's table - Murkowski and McAdams. Murkoski's out-of-state money is being supplanted with over 1.2 million dollars in funding from Native corporations. Miller and Murkowski are spending far more on TV ads alone in 2010 than all the 2006 gubernatorial candidates - Halcro, Knowles and Palin - spent on everything, including staff.
The Koch Brothers and other outside influencers on the post-Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission playing field have bought this election as best they can. They've put their money behind the guy they feel they can control best - Joe Miller. Their ads are slick and, to me, at least, they seem to work better on Alaska's low information voters than do those of Murkowski and McAdams.
Miller's final on-the-air-in-Alaska admission that he committed Federal and Alaska felonies while working as a part-time attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough back in 2008 was an important turn. He's obviously been practicing up on how to deliver the carefully scripted lines. It isn't often that you get a candidate to admit to committing multiple felonies in front of hundreds of people and on statewide TV nine days before an election. Yet he did.
One might think such an admission would be worthy of a direct quote in the articles now appearing about the debate. KTUU's own article on this doesn't even mention Miller's admission or the issues of ethics that it begs. As of 6:20 a.m. on Monday, KTUU hasn't posted any videos on the Senate debate, though they have put up the entire gubernatorial debate (which Ethan Berkowitz clearly won).
The Anchorage Daily News article on this is headlined "Ethics takes center stage in Senate debate." It was filed by Associated Press writer Becky Bohrer. There is no Miller quote on the violations of law. Instead, Bohrer writes:
Ethics took center stage Sunday during a debate in which Alaska Senate hopeful Joe Miller said he was suspended for or docked three days' pay for violating ethics policy while working as a local government attorney in 2008. This acknowledgment came less than two weeks after Miller told Alaska reporters he'd no longer answer questions about his past or background after alleging his personnel file from his time as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough had been illegally leaked.
After former borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said Miller was nearly fired for using government computers in a failed effort to oust the state GOP chairman in 2008, Miller told CNN he had violated ethics policy but said it was unrelated to his leaving the job in 2009 or to the issues of the current Senate race. On Sunday, a day after a judge in Fairbanks ordered the borough release Miller's personnel records, Miller said he had participated in a private poll during his lunch hour. He said it was a mistake that he's learned from. His attorney said no decision has been made on whether to fight the records' release.
Is there some reason for reluctance to directly quote Miller on his admission to having broken the law, or was it just too late on a Sunday evening, with everyone wanting to get home? We'll know soon enough.
It appears to me, though, that Miller admitted to at least as serious of a violation of computer tampering statutes as did young David Kernell. Is Miller being set up to take a fall soon after he takes office? I'm beginning to wonder.
II. Palin is the subject of a long New York Magazine article by Jim Helleman that is coming out this week, titled "How Sarah Palin Could End Up President in 2012." The article explains fairly well how disruptive and different the political environment we have entered is:
For those who believe Palin plans to run in 2012, the fact that she has thrown herself into so many races—to date, she has endorsed 56 candidates, 35 of them tea-partyers—is a significant piece of evidence. There are others. The fund-raising total for her PAC through September 30 ($2.5 million) ranks behind only Romney among potential candidates. She has given more than 70 speeches this year all across the country. In September, she dipped her toe in the Iowa waters by headlining the state party’s annual Ronald Reagan Dinner.
Much was made of the fact that Palin did none of the traditional kowtowing to Republican activists and local officials in the Hawkeye State. Yet, in other places, she has begun courting GOP lever-pullers whose support is critical to winning the nomination. Earlier this month, Palin attended a closed-door dinner at the Breakers in Palm Beach, hosted by the CEO of the conservative media company Newsmax and attended by several dozen A-list insiders, and repeatedly invoked the memory of Reagan. In doing so, she not only tried implicitly to rebut concerns about her electability—noting that naysayers said the same about the Gipper in 1980—but imbue herself with an optimism that some Republicans have found lacking in her relentless assaults on Obama. (In San Jose, she name-checked Reagan eleven times, often in proximity to terms such as “positive” or “exceptionalism.”)
Helleman goes on to describe various scenarios that will start taking place about 13 months from now, as the series of 2012 primaries ramp up. He quotes Tim Pawlenty consultant Vin Weber:
Even with the rise of the tea party, the widespread presumption is that, in the end, the Establishment candidate would prevail: “As Republicans, that’s our history, that’s our DNA,” notes Castellanos. Enhancing that presumption is another: that Palin will be prone to such horrific gaffes, appalling missteps, and gratuitous misstatements that they will clarify for Republican voters what selecting her would mean. “There’s a strong, strong possibility that she will falter, will make some big mistake,” says Weber. “Then it becomes a little bit like Howard Dean, where the party finally looks at her and says, ‘Gee, we like a lot of what she says, a lot of what she stands for, but she would lead us to a disaster.’ ”
But as Weber himself acknowledges, there is another possibility—one that he says is much on the mind of his old friend Newt Gingrich. “She could just take off and sweep everything,” Weber offers glumly.
“You can’t talk about that without talking about the culture in which we live,” says a senior strategist. “Reality-TV culture has taken over real life, which, together with opinion news, she is using more effectively than anyone. At the end of the day, her ability to create a spectacle, get a crowd, whip up people—is that translatable into a plurality victory in a Republican primary? It’s impossible to know. Because you’ve never seen anything like it. It’s totally uncharted territory.”
Totally uncharted territory indeed. As one commenter at this morning's ADN article on the Senatorial debate observed:
Joe Miller and Sarah Palin have played Alaskans like a harp on a string. Although he rails against big government, he's a squatter who's used government subsidies for his welfare family. Sarah Palin, who endorsed this bozo, quit her governorship just to raise money for her hillbilly family, and bamboozle the enablers who support her. Wake up Alaskans, you're being hoodwinked by poor white trash!!
images: Kernell-Reudrich-Palin-Miller - PA; Palin with TriG in Phoenix Saturday - PA; two clowns - Down with Tyranny!