This year’s election is the big one for Alaska

Is anyone else wondering how the 2010 election is going to shape up? Sure, there may still be almost eight months left to file candidacy, but why not take a moment to engage in some wild speculation?

Early runners are often strong runners ­– in this case, Ethan Berkowitz. Berkowitz has made no secret of his intent to run in the race for Governor, but may face a modicum of competition from “de facto” Gov. Sean Parnell.

Before I continue, you may wonder why I don’t give Parnell the full recognition and respect of his position. The reason is actually three-fold.

First, the fashion in which former Gov. Sarah Palin left office (much like the fashion of every single thing she did while in office) was somewhat less than legitimate. I’m not entirely sure if we ever answered the question of the constitutionality of her departure. But it seems as if everyone was either eager to be rid of her or went along with it to in order to ensure a smooth transition – everyone was willing to let the issue slide.

Second, I’ve never gotten over the assumption I have that someone from Gov. Parnell’s campaign was responsible for the theft of my Palin campaign signs in 2006. The signs, which remained in place, proud and unmolested throughout the entire primary and shortly thereafter, suddenly disappeared one day from my lawn.

Attempting to attain more, I was told there were no more “Sarah Palin” signs, but that there were plenty of “Palin / Parnell” signs, hot off the presses. Circumstantial, I know, but I get feelings. This was one.

Finally, I’m just a mean person, at least as far as politicians are concerned. Just ask Sen. Begich. He’s convinced I hate him and I’m the closest thing to a Democrat that anyone unaffiliated could be.

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When it comes to politics, though, I expect change. I feel like the system is broken, and so I flock immediately to anyone singing the tune of reform. Unfortunately, change is apparently just another political term for “more of the same in a slightly different package.” If you can’t tell, I’m already becoming slightly disillusioned with our Nobel Peace Prize winning President.

This column isn’t about my political disillusionment, though, it’s about Alaska’s future. 2010 is “the big one,” with elections for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and Alaska Governor, all at once. It’s almost like an early Christmas for me – if I wasn’t sure which of a limited field of gifts I would receive, and I hated half the gifts and was fairly ambivalent about the other half.

How exciting is this race, though, now that Palin is out of the picture? Her seat is looking to be a match between incumbent Parnell and Ethan Berkowitz, who I mentioned earlier.

Both candidates are former losers, both proven less dynamic than U.S. Rep. Don Young, who I find slightly less exciting than drying paint.

Parnell narrowly lost to Young in the 2008 Republican Primary, while Berkowitz narrowly lost to Young in the 2008 election. If there is no crazy surprises (such as the return of a former heavy-hitter like Tony Knowles or pariah Frank Murkowski) I call the 2010 Gubernatorial race as a narrow win for Berkowitz, by virtue of having advanced farther in the last congressional race. Yes, this actually qualifies as logic in my brain.

Then there is the matter of Young’s U.S. House of Representatives seat. Having effectively scared off Parnell and Berkowitz, and deciding to remain in the game following his wife’s passing, Young looks ready to spill some new blood.

Republican Alaska Rep. John Harris seems to be considering an ill-advised run against Young in the primary, and Democratic Alaska Rep. Harry Crawford has already filed to oppose.

I wouldn’t count on either having the name cache to beat Young—but the state could always decide to try Young just before the race, convict him weeks before the election, and then rescind the charge later. That could never happen, though, right?

Finally, what I consider to be the wild card of the cycle – Lisa Murkowski’s U.S. Senate seat. Perhaps it’s only wishful thinking, but I have a feeling this seat will be next to impossible for Murkowski to hold this year. No one has even expressed interest in running against her yet, but if you ask me that leaves the field wide open for the kind of big moves like late entry that grab headlines.

Who’s going to pop up and give Murkowski a run for her money? Some speculate that Tony Knowles may decide to run, but I find it unlikely. It seemed to be the perfect storm of circumstance that brought him to face Palin in 2006. Extremely early guesses were that Palin would use the race as a step toward a 2012 Presidential run, a rumor Palin dispelled by announcing she would actually fund-raise for Murkowski’s re-election bid. I don’t know if I would want Palin in my corner at this point if I were Murkowski.

Who knows, though, Palin is just unpredictable enough that she may decide she has nothing to lose and run anyway.

At any rate, it should be an interesting cycle next year—I can’t wait to see what happens! Actually, I can, and will, but that won’t make it any less simultaneously exciting and disappointing!