Politics & Current Events

Palin in Alaska - Maverick and Partisan

 I thought it was interesting they also called her a maverick in 2006. She talked about ending partisan politics.

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Partisan politics put aside by Palin - GOVERNOR'S RACE: GOP candidate talks to Democratic Club.

Anchorage Daily News (AK) - January 27, 2006
Author: DON HUNTER Anchorage Daily News ; Staff
There's usually some elbow space when the Bartlett Democrats gather for their regular Thursday lunch forum. Not yesterday. Maverick Republican Sarah Palin packed the little corner room at the Royal Fork restaurant when she accepted an invitation to explain why she wants to be governor.

Palin pitched herself as part of a new generation for whom, she said, partisan politics takes a back seat to practical solutions and open government. She included Democratic candidates Eric Croft and Ethan Berkowitz in that crowd, along with Andrew Halcro, a former Republican lawmaker who is running for governor as an independent. Not surprisingly, Palin reserved her sharpest barbs for incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski, who has yet to announce if he'll seek re-election this year. Fairbanks businessman John Binkley also is running as a Republican.

Palin told the Democrats Murkowski has shaken the trust of Alaskans by keeping them in the dark about his gas pipeline negotiations with oil companies. "Alaskans are wondering whose interests are being served," she said, adding that she favors an all-Alaska line that will deliver affordable fuel to cold homes in the state as well as out of it.

Most of the people listening to Palin Thursday qualified for the state's longevity bonus, and Palin used the opportunity to slam Murkowski for canceling it when money was tight, then vetoing the Legislature's attempt to restore a limited version. She also said the governor has failed to come to grips with the state's "shaky pension plan," noting that her father is a retired teacher who might be affected.

"My dad shouldn't have to worry about a promise being broken," she said.

Palin said she would deal with the state's short-term oil revenue windfall by saving a chunk of it in the constitutional budget reserve and other funds, and forward-funding education.

"We should treat our state budget the same way we treat our home budget," she said, and devise "a budget that is sustainable through the good times and the not-so-good."

Palin was a surprisingly strong runner-up to former state Sen. Loren Leman in the 2002 Republican primary for lieutenant governor, and Murkowski appointed her to the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. She broke ranks with the administration and her own party leadership however, quitting the commission amid allegations that party chairman Randy Ruedrich was violating state ethics laws by doing party business from his office as chairman of the same commission.

Thursday, she jabbed at Murkowski's controversial acquisition of a $2.7 million Westwind II jet. The governor said the jet will save the state time and money in transporting convicts to prisons in other states, as well as occasionally flying himself and staff members.

"The jet - that's a perfect example of a strange priority," Palin said. "(It) exemplifies everything that's wrong right now in state government."

A former Wasilla mayor, Palin underscored her connections in rural Alaska. Her husband grew up in Dillingham, and his mother is Yupik, she said. Palin and her husband, Todd, have fished commercially in Bristol Bay.

She said she would look for ways to create jobs in villages and rural hubs.

"In rural Alaska we see a lot of families starting to rely more and more (on government subsidies) because they don't have job opportunities," Palin said, adding that too often ends up in "broken homes (and) sub-par education."

Palin didn't offer many specifics, however, on exactly how she would create jobs in the Bush or resolve retirement fund shortfalls. And she sidestepped a question from her audience about the wisdom of encouraging expansion in Alaska of Wal-Mart, a chain that has been criticized for offering low pay and few benefits.

Palin , 41, noted that she's been able to look forward to a Permanent Fund dividend check most of her adult life, and wasn't really affected by the state recession caused by the oil price collapse of the mid-1980s.

"Our generation has had it pretty easy," she said.

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