Mark Begich, Not Sarah Palin, Is the Future of Alaska

It's hard to exaggerate how much Sarah Palin's star is going to unjustly dim Mark Begich's star now that he has been elected the new senator from Alaska. But it won't last. Mark Begich is an unusual Democrat. He loves to call in to right-wing (or any kind of) talk radio shows. He isn't at all shy about using media to push his political agenda and his career. He's the kind of politician you should anticipate seeing on Hardball and other cable news programs. I don't say this as a criticism, but the guy likes to make his presence known. At the same time, he's all about substance and ideas. Of all the aspiring politicians I've sat down with, Begich has been the most impressive. I wanted Merkely and Franken to win because they were progressive. I wanted Begich to win because he's substantive.

I don't know a whole lot about Alaska politics, although I've learned more than I wanted to during this campaign season. What I do know is that Begich's election over Ted Stevens represents a huge change in the dynamics of the state's politics. Begich just won a six-year term, and that's an eternity in politics. As we sit around thinking about how it will be four years before Joe Lieberman is up for reelection, we should also think about how it will be six years before our freshmen senators will face the voters. That is a lot of time to establish yourself.

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