As mentioned earlier, Governor Frank Murkowski's approval ratings are hovering somewhere just above the bottom of the Bearing Strait, but below the average January temperature in Fairbanks. In fact, Alaskans hate him so much that it looks like he won't even make it out of the primary (strangely though, that didn't stop them from voting for the daughter he appointed to fill his Senate seat).
This gives us a golden opportunity to retake the Governor's mansion in Juneau, especially given that popular former Governor Tony Knowles has annouced that he will seek re-election.
From what I can figure out, Alaska is Republican based largely on economic grounds. I have a hard time believing that the state is a breeding ground for the Falwell/Dobson wing of the party. The main industries up there are oil/petroleum, various military bases, and tourism. Two of those three are core Republican demographic groups.
This might be the starngest primary that I've seen in awhile. For those that have been following the Connecticut Senate primary (for comparison), its a much different animal.
In comparing it to Connecticut, the challenger US Rep. Ed Case, is running against Sen. Daniel Akaka, who is popular with his state's political insider establishment. Hawaii politics is run from the top down, and the mnost powerful player is supposedly Senator Daniel Inouye Beyond that, the similarities end.
Case's reasoning for running against Akaka is something like this: Akaka is old, and might not make it through his next full term. With Laura Lingle being likely to win re-election, his replacement would be a Republican. In addition, since Hawaii's other Senator Daniel Inouye is also quite old, Hawaii's seniority in the Senate will soon plumment off a cliff. If Hawaii elects a relatively young Senator Case, then it will get a head start on renewal.
Ideologically, Case is actually to the right of Akaka, and unlike Ned Lamont, ideological differences aren't driving this race. Whichever way this ends up, it will be interesting to watch for sure.
Judging by the map of this district, it seems as if this is the "Paradise on Earth" district of America. Its all of Hawaii except for greater Honolulu, and is the more Democratic of the two districts (due in part to the fact that the US Navy megabase at Pearl is in the 1st). This seat is being vacated by Case as he runs for Senate, and it appears that everyone and their cousin is running for the seat.
After spending a decent chunk of the day looking through the field, I've come to the conclusion that the herd is largely bunch of mediocrities at best. The aforementioned Democratic establishment appears to be rallying behind former Lt. Governor (and 2002 Gov nominee) Mazie Hirono.
The one candidate who seems to have both promise and progressive buzz is State Rep. Brian Schatz. He's also the only candidate that has to give up his seat to run. In what appears to be a dysfunctional political culture, Schatz has made the argument for renewal and change within the Hawaii Democratic Party. He did so in an Honolulu Advertiser editorial, and its a pretty inspiring argument.