Alaska editorial: The best road is always the high road in politics

Posted: Monday, September 04, 2006

This editorial appeared in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman:

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The primary election was both an end and a beginning. With one hard-fought campaign now in the rear-view mirror, there remains the October municipal election and the November general election, for those candidates "still standing" after the results.

To all who emerged victorious, we offer our heartiest congratulations. To Republican gubernatorial nominee Sarah Palin, we also offer our thanks.

In a campaign that may well be remembered predominantly for its rancor and mudslinging, the former Wasilla mayor stayed on message, on course and on the high road. It is gratifying to see such good behavior rewarded, and from the number of voters who supported her, it seems we are not alone in thinking so.

Palin's resounding primary victory against some ruthless, win-at-all-costs competition offers hope for weary and cynical voters. It also offers a lesson for political aspirants at all levels.

It is a lesson well worth learning - and heeding. At her victory party Aug. 22 in Anchorage, Palin took note of the vote's meaning.

"People all over Alaska are ready for a new course, a different type of government," she said. "It's going to be positive. I don't want to let you down."

We are hopeful that Palin's positive campaign, and the results it yielded, will serve as a model for what lies ahead. The main cast of challengers in the race for governor - Democrat Tony Knowles and his running mate Ethan Berkowitz, and independent Andrew Halcro and running mate Ken Lancaster - have established track records of gentlemanly conduct and civil discourse. So there is reason for optimism in the run-up to the general election.

During a press conference, the Democratic team indicated that optimism would not be misplaced.

"The best of the political process is a competition of ideas," Berkowitz said. "That's what this campaign should be about - who has the best ideas ... and who can make a difference in people's lives. We've got bright things ahead of us, and I'm looking forward to running the kind of campaign that appeals to Alaska's better angels."

Halcro and Lancaster are no strangers to the notion of putting ideas ahead of personal gain. The two Republicans served together in the state House five years ago and were key members of the bipartisan fiscal policy caucus, which sought to establish a long-range fiscal plan in the aftermath of the economically challenging days of $9 a barrel oil.

This bodes well, especially considering all that is at stake for Alaskans in the upcoming election.

The debate that lies ahead about how best to chart the state's future course is likely to be both lively and informative. The election just past showed that Alaskans hunger not only for such a debate, but one that prioritizes ideas over egos, and the interests of the state over the interests of political parties.

We join other Alaskans in welcoming that debate and encouraging civility and a course to the general election that stays on the high road.

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