Opinion

An exclusive interview with Alaska’s Lt. Gov GOP candidate Eddie Burke

Jedediah Bila Contributor

“Manhattan’s certainly a different world,” Eddie Burke, who’s running for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska, said to me during a recent interview. And he’s right – it most certainly is. Within the first two or three minutes of our conversation, I recognized that down-to-earth quality I don’t see too often in my Manhattan world, one that appeals to me so much in candidates and political figures.

I could tell that there wasn’t an elitist bone in his body. And from that point on, he had my interest.

The son of a cop and a stay-at-home mom, Burke’s been married for twenty-eight years and is a father of four and grandfather of three. He’s been a small-business owner and has lived in Alaska for nearly forty years, having moved there from California in 1971.

“I found my conservative values at eighteen years of age when I joined the US. Navy in 1980,” he said. “President Reagan was my Commander-in-Chief. It was through his words and actions that I solidified my understanding of the role of government.” He added, “My actions as a government official will always be dedicated to enabling individuals and businesses to move forward, and to create economic opportunities with as little government intervention as possible. Government’s role is simple – protect life, liberty, and property.”

Burke revealed that he was motivated to run for lieutenant governor when Alaska’s current Lt. Governor who had been appointed by Sarah Palin, Craig Campbell, decided not to run for election in 2010. “Lt. Governor Craig Campbell is a well-known conservative and his departure meant Alaskans would lose that voice,” Burke said. “The decision to run for office, or potentially win the race, was never about me. It was about allowing a conservative voice to be heard.”

When asked about his platform, Burke revealed that “Recently, I addressed the Fairbanks, Alaska, Chamber of Commerce. When I was asked what I would do for Fairbanks, my response was straightforward: I do not want to do anything for you or for Fairbanks. Instead, I want you to be able to do something for yourself.” Here’s what Burke had to say regarding what he defined as “issues that are very important to me”:

1. Individual liberty and sovereignty: “When the individual is empowered to achieve, others will prosper from his or her work.”

2. State sovereignty: “The Tenth Amendment is essential. It allows as much individual control over our own lives as possible.” He added, “The states know best how to govern their people.”

3. Abortion: “Life begins at conception.”

4. Second Amendment: “The Second Amendment provides the guarantee for all of the other amendments. The Second Amendment is an individual, God-given right.”

5. U.S. Military: “It is imperative that Americans continue to build a strong national defense. It is through a powerful national defense that we continue to be a free people.”

Burke cited building a natural gas pipeline, budgetary issues, and a parental notification initiative as his priority issues for Alaska. He stated that a natural gas pipeline project “would be responsible for delivering jobs and energy to Alaskans and Americans throughout the lower forty-eight.”

He argued, “Alaska is probably the wealthiest state in the nation, but if we continue down the same path of passing unsustainable budgets, Alaska could very well end up like California.”

“Alaskans are going to have the opportunity to approve a citizen’s initiative – Proposition 2 – allowing parents to be notified if their minor child seeks to have an abortion,” adding, “I hope to be lieutenant governor when this initiative passes, so I can be involved in my authority to write the regulations.”

Burke is up against Jay Ramras, who was reported as saying “Vetoes are negative. Vagina is positive and beautiful” in 2008, and Mead Treadwell, who stated in 2008 that “Mr. Chairman, to conclude, we understand it is this nation’s goal – expressed with other nations – to reverse the trend of climate change caused by humans. In the Arctic, research to support adaptation to and mitigation of climate change is high on our agenda.”

A July 15 press release from Burke’s campaign states that it is Treadwell’s “donations to liberal, big-government Democrats Matt Claman (here and here) and Sheila Selkregg (here) that should concern Republicans and Independents alike.” Burke disclosed to me that “Many members of the Alaska Tea Party movement are supporting me. I have much support from the Second-Amendment community. And, I am also hoping for the Alaska Right to Life endorsement.”

With respect to the national scene, Burke affirmed that “Alaska has a potentially dramatic role to play as America’s leader in providing jobs and natural-resource supply.” He added, “We have an administration at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that could be creating thousands of jobs and pursuing the responsible development of crude oil for hungry markets around America. Unfortunately, America has a 10% unemployment rate, and President Obama sits idle because he wants to please the environmental obstructionists.”

Burke also paid tribute to Sarah Palin, who is the figure he claimed to identify with in terms of ideology, stand on the issues, and approach to the problems facing Alaska and the U.S. at large. He said, “Sarah Palin has tried her best to educate America on the vast opportunities Alaska has to offer. We need to keep the story going.” He added, “She and I have agreed on many issues facing Alaska and America. I have witnessed Sarah not only as a political leader, but also as a wife and mother. Her devotion to her children and husband are to be admired.”

My final question was “Why should Alaska choose Eddie Burke?” Burke responded with this: “People should not choose me. Instead, they should choose individual freedom and liberty. If they want a candidate who wants to give them the freedom to make their own important decisions in their lives, a candidate who would give them a variety of options to educate their children, a candidate who will get government off their backs and out of their lives, a candidate who supports their right to bear arms, and a candidate who will protect the life of the unborn, then I am the best candidate to vote for.”

In the spirit of his down-to-earth character, Burke invited me on up to visit his “beautiful state,” an offer I will likely jump at sooner rather than later.

For more information on Eddie Burke, please visit eddieburkeforalaska.com.

Jedediah Bila is a conservative columnist and commentator living in New York City. For more information on Jedediah, please visit jedediahbila.com.