Gubernatorial front-runners launch final election push

Palin, Knowles expect a close race

Posted: Sunday, November 05, 2006

ANCHORAGE - Republican Sarah Palin cheered on supporters who waved campaign signs Saturday at a busy intersection. Democrat Tony Knowles drew chuckles and applause from black church leaders in Anchorage.

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The two front-runners in the Alaska governor's race turned on the charm full-force in the final hours before Election Day Tuesday. Looking for an edge in an expected close race, both had a busy weekend planned, with rallies, campaign stops and church services.

Independent Andrew Halcro, running third, spent some of his time Saturday as a judge in an Anchorage high school drama, debate and forensics competition before launching his own last-minute campaign push.

"Yeah, it was nice being on the other side of the table for a change," he said, referring to a slew of recent candidate forums and debates.

Supporters of Palin and Knowles braved parka-grade temperatures to stand at street corners with their campaign signs. They waved and called out to motorists, their breath wafting in the frigid air.

Palin showed up late Saturday morning to rally her volunteers at a midtown intersection. She said she was trying to personally thank as many roadside sign wavers as she could in Anchorage and Wasilla, where she served two terms as mayor.

"If they're out here in 14-degree weather, I'm out here in 14-degree weather," she said, calling out to volunteers.

Knowles, a former two-term governor, is spending much of the weekend attending church services and meeting religious congregations.

On Saturday morning, he spoke to the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a group of 15 black churches, and to members of a group of black business and professional women. The alliance didn't plan to decide whether to endorse Knowles, said the Rev. Alonzo Patterson, who chairs the group.

Knowles told the crowd his leadership credo was based on a prayer: "Lord, give me the freedom to love everyone." That got the audience laughing.

"In politics that means something," he said.

After his stint as high school judge, Halcro planned to attend a Filipino community dinner with his wife.

"I'm getting the calls from folks getting to point of making a decision," said the former Republican state legislator. "They want to talk to me and see why they should vote for me."

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