I’m a veteran observer of Republicans In Name Only, like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The State she represents is very conservative, so she can’t afford to show her true colors too often, or too close to an election. She’s not up until 2022, so she figures she can afford to reveal her liberal inner core right now. To her, it’s virtue signaling. But if she does vote against Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, she’s making a huge mistake.
The State of Alaska is in very deep trouble, in just about every way. 75% of the budget is coming from cash reserves, and 75% of the Alaska pipeline is running empty. The two are related. To maintain the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed (pay no taxes, have an enormous State government, and give yourself cash dividends) Alaska needs to fill that pipeline, and there’s only one way to do it. And the time is now.
Eighty miles or so east of Prudhoe Bay and the pipeline sits the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve, or ANWR. It’s virtually devoid of life, and is one of he most godforsaken places on earth. But it’s the best prospect for oil in North America. When petroleum geologists first looked at the data from the northern Alaska plain, back in the 50’s, this was the most promising prospect. The fact that the damn stuff leaks on to the surface was a clue. But the Department of Defense said it was off limits. This is where NORAD was going to put its long range radar to detect a Soviet attack. So the oil companies were forced to go to the west, to Prudhoe Bay. They did just fine there.
ANWR is locked up right now, and it will take an act of Congress to open it. Now is the time, with complete Republican control of Congress and the Presidency. The problem is in the Senate, and the filibuster. There’s a way around it, but it would require the active support of the Trump administration. And Lisa Murkowski may be in the process of getting the Trump people pissed off at her, and thus not inclined to do any favors for Alaska. Muy stupido.
The legislative maneuver which would be used would be the insertion of a clause opening ANWR in the budget reconciliation bill, which is not subject to filibuster. This was done successfully in 1996, but Clinton vetoed it. If it was done again, and sent to Trump, he’d sign it, ANWR would be opened, and the State of Alaska would reap a bonanza.
In order to do this, all the Republican leadership, House, Senate, and White House, would have to actively support it. As Chair of the Senate Energy Committee, Murkowski could claim some of the credit. But if she votes against DeVos, it will never happen.
My Article V mentor, Lew Uhler, called me late last night to ask me to send a message to Murkowski — if you vote against DeVos, you will have a well funded primary opponent in 2022. This is a vote that the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, Heritage Action, and many other organizations are watching very carefully, and will remember.
I tried calling the Chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska, Tuckerman Babcock, but he didn’t pick up, so I texted him the message from Lew, to pass along to Murkowski. He’s probably getting a lot of calls right now.
After I left the Senate and went to the House, my secretary, Anne Williams, decided I needed a new secretary, which was Mrs. Tuckerman Babcock, whom I’d never met. The thing was, she had this little boy, around 18 months, and she couldn’t afford day care. So Anne took about a third of the office and made it into a play room for this kid. And then she said she had a job in some other legislator’s office, and left me with Tuckerman’s young wife. And the kid. I didn’t mind.
We were in an annex a block from the Capitol, and very few people ever came to my office. I didn’t encourage visitors. I didn’t like being bothered. At this time I was scheming the downfall of Gov. Bill Sheffield, and I really wasn’t interested in anything else. He had reapportioned me out of my Senate seat, and the main reason I even ran for the House was to try to figure out a way to destroy him.
This is when I met Tuckerman, over 30 years ago. He came by to pick up his wife, and kid. The little guy got out of his play room when his Dad came. I was talking to Tuckerman when the kid punched me right in the groin. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but later I realized that this kid saw me as a threat to his mother, so he punched me. I like kids like that.