BOSTON - Just because George W. Bush won their home state 2-1 over Vice President Al Gore in 2000 doesn't mean Alaska delegates to this week's Democratic National Convention are convinced another national win for the Republican incumbent is inevitable.
Amid the intensely partisan backdrop of the four-day convention, delegates from the Juneau area said they see a better future for the nation under Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry.
"Most of us have to punch a time clock to make a living, most of us have children that go to public schools. We are much better off under a Democratic administration," said Cindy Spanyers, a delegate and DNC member. "These are the people who are really concerned about our ability to be able to afford health care to take care of our kids."
Bush won 59 percent of the Alaska vote in 2000, compared to 28 percent for Gore and 10 percent for third-party candidate Ralph Nader. Recent polls show a similar gap between Bush and Kerry, despite a relatively close race on the national level once again.
However, Alaska Democrats say events of Bush's first term - including the war on Iraq and the handling of the national budget - give ample reason for tepid Bush supporters to consider Kerry in 2004.
"This is a unique opportunity to bring the people back into influence in the government," said Auke Bay resident Andrea Doll. "I think, gradually, what's happened is the Republican Party has pulled the government away from the people. The people are now reacting to this. They are saying, 'We want this government back. We want it fixed.' "
Telephone calls to the Republican National Committee for comment on this article were not returned Tuesday.
Juneau resident Willie Anderson, a 56-year-old teachers union representative, said he knows his hometown is much more liberal in its ideology than Fairbanks or Anchorage.
And that's exactly why Anderson said he's enjoying his time in Boston this week.
"It's great to see other people who think like I do. It's great to be here with all these Democrats," he said.
So far, the Alaska delegation has attracted some notable Democratic speakers to its morning breakfasts, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean and U.S. House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
Carol Anderson, a delegate pledged to former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, said she hopes to bring home some of the zeal and enthusiasm from the convention.
"I am supporting Kerry. I want him to be our next president for sure," said the 56-year-old Juneau resident. "I will be working on the campaign all through November. I am a delegate for peace. We need to speak up. We need to get out of Iraq as fast as we can."
Brian Basinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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