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Independent Halcro attempts to grab voters' attention

Candidate says opponents need to take clearer stands

Posted: Friday, September 08, 2006

In January, gubernatorial candidate Andrew Halcro asked voters to "stop me." In May, his mock blockbuster movie ad said an "epic battle" was looming. And now, his campaign signs read "think."

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Halcro, a former state legislator and rental car businessman, is a Republican running as an independent for the governor's office. So far, he's only seen single digits in the polls.

Halcro's campaign was certified by the state last month, and he plans to unveil more commercials over the next two months until the Nov. 7 general election.

If anything, he wants to get people's attention.

"These candidates are getting away with saying nothing," said Halcro on Thursday from his Anchorage headquarters.

Halcro said he respects his opponents - Democratic candidate Tony Knowles of Anchorage and Republican candidate Sarah Palin - but hopes they demonstrate better leadership by taking a clear stance on issues.

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Halcro said if anyone stops him on the street and ask where he stands on building a highway out of Juneau to a planned ferry terminal, he'll reply, "I'm against it." He thinks the state will most likely build a road to the Kensington Mine and claim it cannot secure the funding for the rest.

Halcro's support for the cruise ship tax that passed in the primary election was based on economics, not politics, he said. That stance may have cost him funding and political support from the tourism industry, he added.

Last week, Halcro called on his opponents to stop "pandering and pondering" proposed routes for a natural gas pipeline and simply pick one. He backs building a line with three major oil producers and sending the gas through Canada and the American Midwest. An all-Alaska route, sending gas from Prudhoe Bay to be liquefied in Valdez, presents too many complications, he said.

Palin and Knowles have said they would consider alternative proposals as well as the one from ConocoPhillips, BP and Exxon Mobil. On Thursday, Palin and Knowles both said they want to get the best deal for Alaska, building on Murkowski's work but opening up the process to companies besides the three big North Slope producers.

"We owe voters a chance to consider our positions in detail, so they can know how we would govern," Halcro said. "I don't intend to run my campaign on feel-good sound bites."

Pollster Dave Dittman said speaking openly and candidly on the issues is characteristic of Halcro, which gets people to listen to him. Dittman is owner of the Anchorage-based Dittman Research & Communication, which conducts political polls.

"I think Andrew will be a factor," he said.

Halcro most likely would take votes away from both candidates, instead of one, because his positions are not aligned with either party, Dittman said.

A poll conducted by Dittman surveyed 507 likely voters from Aug. 24 to Aug. 30 and showed Palin with 46 percent, Knowles with 29 percent and Halcro with 3 percent. Another 22 percent said they were unsure or declined to answer.

Often a candidate will count on getting voters registered as nonpartisan or undeclared, Dittman said.

"I think it's a misnomer to call them independents," because trends show they vote either Republican or Democrat, he said.

"Third party" candidates such as Halcro attract attention by raising issues not mentioned by the two main candidates. But closer to election day, the front-runners adopt the issues raised by the independent candidate, Dittman said.

"I don't know what Andrew would raise that wouldn't be absorbed by the Republican and Democrat candidate," he added.

Halcro's presence in the race does not change how Palin is approaching the campaign, said Palin spokesman Curtis Smith. But competition is welcome.

"In fact, she made a point to sign Andrew's petition that eventually led to his name being placed on the ballot," he said.

Knowles campaign spokeswoman Patty Ginsburg said Halcro is an intelligent voice and very thoughtful. There are many things they agree on, but they have different approaches and perspectives, she added.

"We honestly don't know what role he may play in the campaign," Ginsburg said.

Since the Aug. 22 primary, Halcro has collected $15,000 in campaign contributions and endorsements from the Juneau Pro-choice Coalition and the Alaska Correctional Officers Coalition.

"I'm in this to win," Halcro said.

If that is not the case, at least he will have learned how be a better candidate for the future, he said.



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