Congress, Other

Buzz Aldrin endorses candidate in Alaska Senate race

Republicans in Alaska are going to the polls today to select a candidate to run against incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D) in the November general election. One of those candidates is hoping that a last-minute endorsement from a famous former astronaut who typically does not get involved in campaigns will help swing a few of those voters his way.

The campaign of Mark Treadwell, the state’s current lieutenant governor, announced Monday that it had won the endorsement of Buzz Aldrin. “I have known and worked with Mead for close to thirty years, dating back to his first time advising NASA, on improving our nation’s space program,” Aldrin wrote in his letter of endorsement, referring to Treadwell’s participation in NASA’s Lunar Base Working Group in the 1980s.

Aldrin’s letter mentions Treadwell’s support for a number of issues of interest to Alaskans, including “Arctic exploration” for oil and gas, as well as the state’s role in missile defense. There’s a space angle, too, as Aldrin mentions Treadwell’s role as chairman of the Aerospace States Association (an organization traditionally chaired by a state lieutenant governor) and his support for the state’s launch site at Kodiak. “I admire his work to help build and build business for the Kodiak Launch Site,” Aldrin wrote. “Most importantly, I support what he’s done to make sure that the Last Frontier contributes to the next frontier in further space exploration.”

“For his part, Aldrin said that he does not generally make endorsements,” the Treadwell campaign notes in its statement about the endorsement. However, it’s not unprecedented. In 2008, he endorsed a candidate in a Democratic primary for Florida’s 15th congressional district, although that candidate lost in the primary, who in turn lost to Bill Posey in the general election. In 2006, Aldrin campaigned for Nick Lampson in his race for the House seat formerly held by Tom DeLay; Lampson won, but lost a reelection bid two years later. Aldrin also appeared at a campaign rally for President George W. Bush late in Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign.

Treadwell is one of three major Republican candidates for the Senate nomination. Most polls showed him trailing Dan Sullivan, although the race appeared to be tightening in recent weeks.

Update 8/20 9 am: Aldrin’s endorsement didn’t help Treadwell: he finished third in the three-person race for the Republican nomination.

7 comments to Buzz Aldrin endorses candidate in Alaska Senate race

  • Vladislaw

    At 84 years old I wonder how much weight he carries. I would imagine, with the state of our younger voters, they even know who he is.

  • Begich is finished not because of his policy positions on space. It is because his treehugger party is hostile to fossil fuel development, which directly and negatively effects Alaska voter’s pocketbooks.

  • Hiram

    I’m not sure why Buzz Aldrin endorsing a politician should be any more meaningful to me than a retired politician endorsing a lunar human spaceflight mission. Well, at least in the latter case, they might have once had some responsibility to the taxpayer for funding it.

  • As a veteran of many campaigns … Endorsements mean squat.

    Maybe they help you a little in fundraising. They don’t mean a thing at the polls.

  • Update 8/20 9 am: Aldrin’s endorsement didn’t help Treadwell: he finished third in the three-person race for the Republican nomination.

    It may be true that endorsements from astronauts are of little value to politicians, but unfortunately that does (or should) mean something to us. It may be a measure of how much spaceflight matters to the voters. On the other hand, I know (and care) next to nothing about Alaska politicians and politics (until and unless they become national politicians), so there may be factors involved that I don’t know about.

    – Donald

    • Hiram

      “It may be true that endorsements from astronauts are of little value to politicians, but unfortunately that does (or should) mean something to us. It may be a measure of how much spaceflight matters to the voters.”

      I was going to criticize that interpretation, in that Treadwell didn’t lose because spaceflight doesn’t matter to the voters. But there is some sense there. I think the point is that while popular mythology is that astronauts deserve deification and worship, the public may be rational enough to understand that they being an astronaut doesn’t necessarily convey any credibility in politics. It’s less that spaceflight doesn’t matter to the voters, but they know that spaceflight doesn’t matter to politics. Kudos to the public for that.

      What did Buzz Aldrin think he was giving Treadwell? What is it about Aldrin that would make people want to take his political recommendation seriously? Is it onetime leadership ability? Is it onetime bravery? Is it the flecks of lunar dust that remain in his lungs? Is it that he once wore a cool helmet? I dunno.

      I have to say that the foot-kissing that often is applied to astronauts makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to get in a fight about this as I think astronauts are smart and brave people who deserve a lot of respect, but there are a lot of smart and brave people who deserve a lot of respect. I know astronauts, by the way, who are often quite embarrassed by that deification. There are others who, I know, revel in it.

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