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“Carpetbagger” Is Not A Dirty Word

Alaskans have entirely the wrong idea about Vic Vickers, the unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. People attacked Vickers as a “carpetbagger” because he has only lived in Alaska since January of this year. They took umbrage at this brash interloper from Outside, throwing his money around, trying to buy his way into elective office. The conspiracy theorists out there even postulated that Vickers was a Democratic operative whose real agenda was to smear Ted Stevens for Mark Begich’s benefit. (This theory, however, took a serious hit when Vickers publicly described Begich as “Ted Stevens on training wheels.”)

But people, people, people, let’s take a “big picture” view of Vickers’ candidacy. We shouldn’t be attacking Vickers. Instead, we should be encouraging him. We should be encouraging him and any other millionaires with more money than sense who have a desire to throw away oodles of dough to become elected officials of the Greatland. In fact, the first thing that the Alaska Legislature should do when it reconvenes this winter is to pass a resolution commending Vickers for his participation in the election and asking him to please, please put up a bunch more money to try again.

Just think about it for a few nanoseconds. This guy spent something like $750,000, or maybe even $1 million, of his own money to campaign here. This money was all paid to Alaskans: Alaska TV stations, Alaska radio stations, Alaska newspapers, Alaska ad agencies, Alaska printers, etc. These local businesses are now in the process of passing along this money to the rest of us through those economic channels we all cherish so much. And, this money was all dollars that Vickers successfully pried out of the good citizens of Florida. I mean, its like Florida just loaded up a huge pile of cash on a semi-trailer truck and sent it up here for us to have fun passing around. As an Alaskan, how can you not be in favor of that?

We should embrace this as a business model and develop a cottage industry out of it. Take out ads in the Lower 48 encouraging rich guys who have high opinions of themselves (maybe that’s redundant) to run for office here. “Big. Wild. Wide Open Elections.” Set up a State commission, like the Alaska Film Office, to encourage wealthy Outsiders to try their luck at Alaska politics. Maybe even give them helpful hints, such as suggesting they legally changing their names to something like “Ned Stevens” before making the run.

carpetbag_01.jpg Of course, we would have to do something about the pesky Alaska Constitution. (I mention the constitution here so that I can legitimately say this blog entry has a tie-in with the law.) The state constitution says that candidates for the Alaska Legislature have to live in Alaska for a minimum of three years and in their legislative district for one year. The constitutional requirements to run for governor are even worse. A candidate for governor has to live in Alaska for at least seven years. (Vickers sidestepped these requirement because he ran for federal office.) But I’m sure that if we look at this thing in the right spirit we can all get behind a “Carpetbagger Amendment” to the state constitution. We can just add an exception that lowers the residency requirements by a couple months for every $1 million in net worth that a candidate spends to campaign in Alaska.

It’s a great idea, don’t you think? There will be more money flowing throughout Alaska and we will have more entertaining political campaigns to watch. And what is the worst thing that could possibly happen? That some know-nothing weirdo actually might get elected to public office? You know, I’m pretty sure that’s already happening in almost every election.