Murkowski's appeal for Democratic votes backfires

Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Murkowski's appeal for Democratic votes backfiresSen. Lisa Murkowski is apologizing for a campaign mailing attempting to win Democratic votes, but some Juneau Democrats say the mailing went too far.

"I think it is a pretty sleazy last-minute mailing, and its untrue," said Kim Metcalfe, Juneau Democratic chairwoman.

"I know she's going for the moderate vote, but this is a pretty poor way to do it," said Metcalfe, who said she received the direct mail campaign ad Tuesday.

The mailer claims incorrectly several prominent Democrats are supporting Murkowski.

"Alaska Democrats Who Are Voting For Lisa Murkowski - and not Scott McAdams," the mailer is titled, followed by a list of quotes from several Alaska Democrats, as well as Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

Chief among those is Ethan Berkowitz, the Democratic Party's candidate for governor and a McAdams supporter.

Berkowitz issued a statement calling Murkowski's claims "a blatant lie" and urged her to correct it.

Murkowski spokesman Steve Wackowski said the mailing was in error, and it was the campaign's fault.

"We immediately issued an apology to Scott McAdams, and Sen. Murkowski called Ethan directly and the talked about it," Wackowski said.

Also quoted in the mailing were former Democratic candidates Bob Poe and Georgianna Lincoln and attorney Don Mitchell.

McAdams Juneau Campaign Coordinator Kate Troll said the local office was already getting calls from surprised Juneau Democrats. Troll writes a column for the Empire.

Troll sent out an e-mail to Juneau Democrats saying that it seemed "crazy" to see a claim that Berkowitz was supporting Murkowski. "Guess what, it is. Lisa flat out told a lie in her mail piece," Troll said.

Wackowski said the mailer originally had a headline that stated something like "What Democrats are saying about Lisa Murkowski," and he said he wasn't sure how it came to include the erroneous information about voting.

"Our campaign is responsible for it," he said.

Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said she did not believe that Murkowski intentionally tried to mislead voters.

"I think it was an honest mistake," she said.

While she considers Murkowski a personal friend, Kerttula, who serves as House Democratic leader, said she'll be voting for McAdams.

Further, she said, Murkowski shouldn't have used peoples' names and quotes as endorsement without permission.

"Before you put somebody's name on a flyer like that, you've got to be sure you've got their OK", she said.

Murray Tuesday issued a statement saying it was unfortunate her comments praising Murkowski's bipartisanship were used to woo McAdams supporters.

"It's unfortunate her comments about bipartisanship were used in a partisan manner against an excellent candidate like Scott McAdams," said Jeff Bjornstad, Murray's campaign manager.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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