16 October 2010

Whistling Past the Political Graveyard

Senator Lisa Murkowski (?-AK) is airing a new ad that shows former Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) endorsing her candidacy for the Senate.  The amazing thing is that Stevens came back from the dead to do it.  Murkowski claims that the ad was filmed 10 days before the octogenarian Senator was killed in a plane crash but was not run out of respect for the family.  Now Stevens daughter has blessed sharing her belated father’s message.

Airing the ad raises a few points.  Firstly, this endorsement was for the hard fought primary campaign against political newcomer and now GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller.  Stevens had a history of being a party man in the Frontier State, so claiming that Stevens was endorsing Murkowski’s run sore loser run as an Independent in the general election based on a 10 second edited video segment is specious.

Secondly, Murkowski’s campaign supposedly suspended airing Steven’s endorsement due to Steven’s untimely death just before the August primaries.  So even with the blessing of the Steven’s daughter, Lisa’s campaign thinks its OK to exploit a revered political spirit two months later?

Thirdly, Stevens was hailed  as one of the pioneer statemen of Alaska.  His 30 years of seniority in the Senate allowed Stevens considerable leverage in accruing pork barrel projects, even the infamous Bridge to Nowhere for $250 million.  Reminding Alaska voters of all of the bacon Lisa can bring home with her seniority through this undead endorsement might boomerang with Tea Party types as showing the corruption of incumbency.

Lastly, Murkowski’s pulling this endorsement out at this late stage of the campaign reeks of desperation.  Some polling shows running neck and neck with Republican nominee Joe Miller. Invoking Steven’s memory reminds me of the Wellstone Funeral/Rally in 2002 which seemed to exploit the tragedy instead of honoring the memory of a fallen political warrior.

 Perhaps enough Alaskans will be swayed by Steven’s memory that it provides the edge for Lisa, but I think that Murkowski is really whistling past the graveyard.  Is she really wants to seal her fate Lisa should get her father, former Governor Frank Murkowski (R-AK), to endorse her.

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