“Alaska’s highly touted Democratic nominee for the state’s lone congressional seat has nothing but compliments for Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain’s new running mate,” wrote Politico in 2008, after Palin had been named running mate for Sen. John McCain .
The Democrat praising Palin that year was former state Democrat Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, who lost his bid for Congress that year.
“This is an exciting day for Alaska,” Berkowitz told Politico. “Gov. Palin has made her name fighting corruption within her own party, and I was honored when she stepped across party lines and asked me to co-author her ethics white paper.”
In 2022, Palin is running for Congress to fill the shoes of the late Congressman Don Young and Berkowitz, who once challenged Young for the seat, has gone into political hiding.
Palin faces Republican Nick Begich, who has been criticized by some Sarah Palin fans for having voted for Berkowitz once when Berkowitz ran for mayor in 2015. Berkowitz won by a landslide that year, with 60.7% of the vote. (Palin also faces Democrat Mary Peltola.)
Berkowitz won not once, but twice as mayor of Anchorage. After his second mayoral election, he stepped down in disgrace, when a sexting scandal erupted between Berkowitz and a local news reporter, Maria Athens.
Berkowitz had run for office continuously for years. In the 2006 election, Berkowitz had been the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Alaska, running with former Gov. Tony Knowles. Knowles and Berkowitz were defeated by Sarah Palin and Sean Parnell in November of 2006.
A few months later, Berkowitz’ wife ended up with a man plastered on the windshield of her Volvo. He died from the impact, and the news of a leading Democrat politician’s wife having killed a pedestrian with her car received scant coverage by the mainstream media. That was in 2007, when Berkowitz was the Democrats’ best chance — “highly touted,” as Politico put it, of beating Don Young in the coming cycle.
He was well into that race in 2008, when he praised Palin for having hired him to write her ethics white paper.
Two years later, Berkowitz ran for governor as a Democrat with running mate Diane Benson. The two lost to Gov. Parnell and Mead Treadwell in 2010.
In 2014, Berkowitz was preparing a run for governor and promised to name Bill Walker to his cabinet to take the lead on a gasline from the North Slope.
Berkowitz ended up withdrawing from the race in 2014, and Walker ran that year with Byron Mallott in a ticket that was endorsed by the Alaska Democratic Party — and Sarah Palin.
Berkowitz and Palin have been the odd political couple for years, but this year, Berkowitz is silent on her bid for Congress. An endorsement by Berkowitz for Palin would be neither welcome nor helpful to the congressional candidate.