Look at a map of the lower 48. Look at the area encompassed by Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. That’s how much federal land there is in Alaska. 68% of the state. And that doesn’t include the 200 mile economic zone off Alaska’s coast. There is wealth on and under that land, enormous wealth, known wealth. It sits undeveloped, because the federal government is under the control of environmental zealots.
There was a time when Alaskans were careless about the environment. But that was long ago. Alaskans live in a harsh part of the world. The weather up there can be brutal. But the beauty of the land, and the waters, are a compensation. Alaskans, today, will not allow their state to be despoiled. The Pebble Mine is the largest and most valuable mineral deposit in North America. But because it sits at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, it won’t be developed. The fish, and the land, are too important to risk.
When my friend David Cuddy ran against Ted Stevens in 2008 he asked me to come back to Alaska and run his campaign. I was tempted. David and I are virtually identical in our politics, and I despised Stevens, who ran a corrupt political machine, one that defeated me in my desire to become a United States Senator. A federal prosecution was underway, and David knew Stevens was guilty. He tried convincing people that Stevens was on his way out, and that it would be best to replace him with a Republican. But they didn’t listen, and Stevens won the nomination, only to be convicted shortly before the general election. Even as a felon convicted of corruption he still almost won. Begich barely beat him.
Lisa Murkowski is up next year, and we need a good conservative to beat her in the primary. She’s a protégé not so much of her father, who appointed her, but of Ted Stevens. He orchestrated the whole thing. She’s entirely unsuited to be a Senator. She hides her empty headed liberalism just enough to get by in a conservative state like Alaska. But she’s a phony. So I’m going up to Alaska next week to talk to David and some of his closest political advisers. He’s not sure if he wants to make another run, but somebody has to. We’ll figure it out.
While I’m there I should get a chance to talk to Senate President Kevin Meyer, who I’ve already briefed on the Reagan Initiative. And I’ll have time to drive down to the Kenai to meet Speaker Mike Chenault. He got in to the legislature the year before I left the state, so I don’t know him personally. But I know some of his closest political allies, and I have no doubt we’ll get along just fine. He’ll be at the Seattle Summit for sure. I can’t wait to see his eyes light up when I tell him about the Reagan Initiative.
Politically, the enhanced, or supply side, BBA is a trifecta — three winners. Balance the budget, and do it by transferring federal lands to the states, and reforming regulation. Most especially in Alaska, that’s the ticket to victory, politically. I don’t want credit for it. I’m never running for office again, so it doesn’t do me any good. I want people I like getting credit, people who can win elections with that credit. I’ll figure it out.
I want to raise money in Alaska. That’s how I can justify this trip. No state will benefit more from the Reagan Initiative than Alaska. Since statehood in ’59, Alaska has been reliant on the federal government. When it gets its land, it will, at last, be free. Oh, and rich, too. I’ve never been any good at raising money, but I’ve never had a product like this to sell. Here’s hoping.
When I got to Juneau in 1983 the spigot had just been turned on, and the money was pouring in. The State of Alaska spends a ton of money, and they don’t need an income tax or a sales tax. They’ve got oil. But now, 32 years after I showed up, the oil is running out. Half their operating budget is coming from reserves this year. They can only keep this up for another couple years, and the reserves will be gone. Bummer.
Enter, like the 7th Cavalry, the Reagan Initiative. It’s like magic. I expect a warm welcome in Alaska.
When I got to Juneau they had so much money they didn’t know what to do with it all. So they divvied it up. Every majority legislator would get a cut. Senators got $40 million, House members $20 million. You could spend it on any damn thing you liked. And it was yours, forever. If you funded a project that wasn’t built, you got the money back, to spend a second time. One project didn’t get built, and the legislator who funded it had died. They fought over that money like a pack of wild dogs.
Boy, do I have stories.