Empire editorial: Palin's trial balloon a new threat to Southeast Alaska

Posted: Sunday, March 05, 2006

Republican Sarah Palin last week fired the first warning shot in this year's gubernatorial race, and Southeast Alaskans would be wise to take note and duck.

While at a candidates' forum in Juneau, the former Wasilla mayor was the only candidate to say she would support having the Legislature meet in a different city. Pressed for more detail the next day, she insisted she really didn't want to move the Legislature to a new Capitol, but just to boost citizen access by having some meetings or special sessions nearer the state's population center.

No doubt it plays well at home, where the Matanuska-Susitna Borough covets the seat of government. But Palin is in a statewide race now, and statewide, moving the capital - whether by attrition or all at once - makes no financial sense. It's also entirely unnecessary politically, given Juneau's and the Legislature's unparalleled virtual accessibility through the Internet and Gavel to Gavel coverage - and the fact that wherever the Legislature meets in this state it will be isolated from a large segment of its population.

Palin is an interesting candidate because she has questioned her party's leaders over ethics, in a state where the ruling party often penalizes those who rub the wrong way. But make no mistake: Palin's Legislature-move trial balloon last week was also a capital-move premonition, and Republicans throughout Southeast Alaska should take note.

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