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Gubernatorial front-runners take forked path

Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006

ANCHORAGE - In the waning days before the election, the two candidates leading the governors race are choosing radically different tactics.

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Republican Sarah Palin plans to focus her campaigning efforts in Anchorage, while Democrat Tony Knowles said he will make a final sweep of the state.

On Sunday, the two crossed paths at the Anchorage Baptist Temple for a candidates' meet-and-greet with congregants. Also there were Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, Diane Benson, a Democrat challenging Young for the U.S. House, and a host of state legislative candidates.

Palin said she will focus on personally thanking as many roadside sign wavers as she can in Anchorage, the state's largest city, and in 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.

Palin has a host of other events to attend before voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

On Sunday, after leaving the Baptist temple, Palin planned to head to ChangePoint church and then to an American Red Cross food festival fundraiser sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, at Spenard watering hole Chilkoot Charlie's.

Meanwhile, Knowles planned to fly to a rally in Valdez later on Sunday.

His itinerary called for stops in Fairbanks and Juneau on Monday before returning to Anchorage for more rallies and some phone time with rural voters.

Knowles said Valdez is an important stop because the outcome of negotiations for a natural gas pipeline will greatly affect the community, which lies at the receiving end of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

"The pipeline means so much to Valdez," Knowles said. "They are keenly interested in the pipeline and there are lots of oil and union workers there."

Independent candidate Andrew Halcro, who surprised many voters with a strong performance in the gubernatorial debates, said he planned to return phone messages left by supporters from around the state before heading to evening Mass.

"I'm still battling that feeling voters have of 'Boy I want to vote for you, but..."' Halcro said. "But today the conversation is much easier than it was three weeks ago. After seeing the debates, they know me better and where I stand on the issues."

On Monday, Halcro will answer questions on Anchorage radio station KFQD's call-in talk show and plans to attend a youth vote rally at a coffee shop downtown.

Benson and Young said they plan to stay in Anchorage, visiting voters at local shopping malls.

Here are the last-minute messages the gubernatorial candidates want voters to remember as they head to the polls on Tuesday:

Halcro: "Vote your conscience. Vote for the candidate you want instead of against the candidate you don't want."

Knowles: "This is a time of historic opportunity to build a gasline. The stakes have never been higher. Voters should look to the person who has a plan for the pipeline, education and health care."

Palin: "It's truly a time for a change from politics-as-usual. Tony Knowles has served the state. He's had eight years. It's time to move forward, not backwards."



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