Who's right for the job?

Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2010

The primary election is just more than four weeks away, and we'll be hearing a lot more from candidates in the final month of campaigning. One of the most crucial races to be decided on the 24th of August is the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Lisa Murkowski is finishing her first full term in office, while Joe Miller has put himself forward as an alternative on the Republican ballot.

In the interest of full disclosure, I worked as staff on Lisa's campaign six years ago. I wholeheartedly admire how she's represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate and consider her a friend to Alaska and a truly talented public official. But if I didn't know either her or Miller from Adam, a fresh and unbiased look at what each candidate claims to be, their respective records of public service, and what a vote for one versus the other truly means leads unerringly to the same conclusion: I'll be voting for Murkowski on primary election day, and I strongly encourage all Alaskans to do the same.

Most voters know that Lisa was serving in the State House when her father appointed her to serve out the remainder of his Senate term. Many criticized this as an unfair, nepotistic advantage, when in truth it was somewhat of an albatross around her neck as she proved she was smart and hard-working enough to merit the job in her own right. She handily won both the primary and general elections in 2004. While he ran once for State House, Joe Miller has never held any elective office, and yet capriciously thinks he's qualified to be our U.S. Senator.

Miller is an attorney who worked seven years for the Fairbanks North Star Borough, but he fails to list this on his website, to describe what he did in that capacity, or under what circumstances his employment there came to an end. Among other law-related jobs, Miller claims to have been a state and federal judge, when in reality he was a magistrate. Magistrates in the Alaska Court System don't even have to have law degrees, and for Joe to bandy about his 'Acting District Court Judge' experience as some sort of impressive thing is laughable. As far as experience as a federal magistrate, these are part-time positions. Joe's efforts to gold-plate his résumé suggest narcissism, if not mild megalomania.

In addition to what Joe says about himself, the endorsements he's picked up speak volumes about his true character. The so-called 'Tea Party Express' is a group that has lately been mired in controversy because one of its leaders showed himself to be a blatant racist, and Joe has said not a word to distance himself from this individual. Many in the national Tea Party movement are deeply concerned about our nation's fiscal policies, but the West Coast-based 'Express' appears to have been infiltrated with bigoted crazy people who can't wait for Armageddon and who want to relegate people of non-European ancestry to second-class citizenship.

A vote for Miller in the primary election won't get him into the Senate because he is part of the radical fringe. What it will do is cause the Alaska Democratic Party to substitute a better-known and more viable candidate for Scott McAdams, the mayor of Sitka, who is currently on the ballot. I've known Scott for many years, and he is an affable and intelligent person who stands little if any chance of beating Murkowski.

True fiscal conservatives who disagree with some of Lisa's votes over her time in office must realize that saying "no" to every spending proposal that comes up on the Senate floor is knee-jerk politics, and not effective leadership. Lisa has made wise choices the vast majority of her time in office, and continues to listen to her constituents and respond to their concerns. Miller promises to limit the federal government in accordance with the 10th Amendment, but hasn't specified what he means by making this promise. Many of his crazier supporters want to abolish the Federal Reserve, shut down numerous major federal departments, and leave the United Nations. A vote for Miller is a risky shotgun approach to reigning in federal spending and the Obama Administration's overreaching policies. A vote for Murkowski is an intelligent step to ensure Alaska's continued strong representation in the halls of the U.S. Congress while fighting against unworkable policies.

• Ben Brown, a lifelong Alaskan, is an attorney who lives in Juneau. While Brown serves as Co-Chairman of the Capital City Republicans, the views expressed in this column are his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any of the other officers or members of the Capital City Republicans.

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