17 August 2006

Which Ballot?

So the primary election is just around the corner. Here's my dilemma - as a non-declared voter, which ballot do I select?

I have three choices - the Republican ballot, all parties-but-Republican ballot, and the measures-only ballot.

The third choice is out because I want to have my say in the governor's race. That leaves me two options. The deciding factor between the ballots has to be the governor's race. Richard Foster is unopposed in the House race for District 39 and Donny Olson's seat isn't up for grabs.

I know people in a similar situation who reach for the Republican ballot naturally because the contest is closer there and the winner has a better shot at the mansion in Juneau. I'd like to follow suit, but for two factors.

The first is my natural predilection to vote Democrat. I realize Alaska is a less partisan state than most but I still find it difficult to cast a vote for a Republican, even if I later have an opportunity to vote against that same candidate.

The second is that I endeavour to make all my votes affirmative votes. That is, I don't want to find myself in a position of voting for the candidate that is the lesser of some evil but for a candidate who I think will legitimately do a good job promoting policies that I believe in.

I am in a fortunate position in that as a news reporter I have met and/or interviewed many of the candidates, sometimes on more than one occasion. With that knowledge, I can safely strike Frank Murkowski from my list. He's friendly and reminds me of my grandfather but I can't help but think his time has come and gone. I haven't met Sarah Palin and am a little worried that $300,000-plus didn't buy her a trip to the bush or even a phone call. I met - but did not interview - John Binkley and was impressed, particularly by his bush experience and his energy. On the Democrat side, I have met neither candidate and am disappointed for the same reasons I am in the Palin candidacy. Nor did I find myself particularly drawn to Eric Croft during the legislative session (but Mary Kapsner likes him and I do like her).

That would leave Binkley as the obvious choice and I can probably stomach my uncertainties about voting Republican and realize my vote is simply a vote for the person who will treat the bush the best, regardless of party affiliation.

But there are two more complicating factors. The first is that I'm not wholly comfortable with Binkley in a way that I can't quite express. Of course, I doubt that I'd ever be entirely at ease with any candidate. The second is the lieutenant governor's race. If I pick a Republican ballot, I'd be forced to pick between two yahoos who I care little about. And I wouldn't be able to vote for Ethan Berkowitz, the one candidate I have spoken with that I legitimately appreciated and was on board with. (Why did he defer to Tony? My life would be a lot easier right now.) Sure, he may just be talking the talk but I really like his experience in Antarctica and his degrees.

So I'm still undecided about the ballot. Maybe I'll just vote for Binkley and write Berkowitz in on the Republican ballot to assuage my conscience.

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