12 September 2006

Ethan Berkowitz

Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Ethan Berkowitz was in KNOM's Studio C this morning. Some initial thoughts:

  • Like Andrew Halcro, what I appreciate about Ethan is that he's willing to engage in a conversation and actual exchange of ideas. I felt very comfortable speaking with him because it just seemed like a natural give-and-take as I might have with anyone else. One difference is that Ethan was more willing to slip into sound bites ("we don't want corrosion in our pipeline and we don't want corrosion in our legislature") than I'd have preferred but he's smart and knows I need to cut him down into sound cuts for the radio.
  • I couldn't get anything out of him on his relationship with Tony Knowles. He agrees they have different histories (particularly Tony's connection to the oil industry and Ethan's "skepticism" of the industry) but thinks that can only be complementary. Like he has so many times before, he said he only wants what's best for Alaska and that's why he got out of the way when Tony declared.
  • He really has some very typically left-leaning policy proposals - universal pre-kindergarten, a skepticism of standardized testing, more money for drug and alcohol prevention, etc. - but he does a very good job of couching them in libertarian-esque terms Alaskans might appreciate - "we need to be more self-reliant" or "we need to live up to Alaska's promise." It's an interesting and smart wording choice.
  • I think (I hope) I caught him off guard a bit by asking him not about ballot-counting and electronic voting in his presumed role as head of Divison of Elections but about low turnout and voter apathy. He said all the right things about improving participation in government (and cleverly tied it to ethics) but I didn't hear anything specific or new from him. That was somewhat disappointing.
  • He didn't slam the Republicans like I thought he would, particularly on the VECO investigation. Sure, there was some comment on that but I didn't hear the soundbite I expected, namely the "culture of corruption" I've heard from everyone from Harry Reid to Eric Croft. Also, he completely passed on my opportunity to "go negative" on Palin and Parnell (what differentiates you and Tony from them), explicitly saying he couldn't speak for them and would rather talk only about himself. He was upbeat the whole time.
  • He had no special insights for how I could get a job in Antarctica, despite his experience there. Perhaps I shot too high when I thought I could parlay the interview into my next adventure.
There was much more, of course, in the half-hour conversation but that'll do for now. Tony Knowles will be on KNOM in early October. I look forward to learning more about him.

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