The next Governor of Alaska is . . .

Alaska’s current Governor, Bill Walker, ran in 2014 as a moderate Independent against the incumbent conservative Republican, Sean Parnell.  Byron Mallot won the Democratic nomination, but he didn’t campaign for the office himself, instead joining Walker as his choice for Lieutenant Governor.  So the 2014 election had a conservative Republican running against the fusion of Democrats and moderate Independents.

Next year, the Democrats in Alaska are determined to run their own candidate, rather than support an Independent like Walker.  So Walker has three possible paths to victory.

He can run again as an Independent again, but this would mean that the liberal and moderate forces in Alaska would be split between a moderate Independent and a liberal Democrat.  A conservative Republican wins in that scenario.  That’s exactly how Wally Hickel won in 1990.  Running as a conservative Independent, he got 39% of the vote, beating a liberal Democrat and a Republican moderate.

Walker could run as a Democrat, but in Alaska a moderate or liberal Democrat can’t beat a conservative Republican straight up.  Liberal Democrat Tony Knowles won in 1994, but he was up against a moderate, not a conservative, Republican.  Knowles beat two conservative Republicans in the 1998 general election.  John Lindauer was on the ballot as the Republican nominee, but the Central Committee of the Republican Party of Alaska renounced his candidacy, and voted to support a write-in campaign by State Senator Robin Taylor.

In 2002, 2006 and 2010 a conservative Republican beat a liberal or moderate Democrat. That’s the current political alignment of Alaska.  The only Democrat who’s won a federal House or Senate seat in the last 44 years was Mark Begich in 2008.  But his opponent, Ted Stevens, was convicted of corruption in federal court ten days before the election.   Governor Walker has an approval rating in the low 40’s, and in a straight up match against a good conservative Republican he would probably lose.

Walker’s third option is to run as a Republican, and hope the conservative Republicans running will split the conservative vote, allowing him to win the primary with moderate Republicans and Independents.  Since Independents can vote in the Republican primary, this could work.

52% of Alaskans are undeclared, independent or non-partisan.  Only 26% are Republican.  If Walker ran as a Republican, as he tried in 2010, he would not get any votes from the 15% of the voters who are registered Democrats.  But this is probably the most realistic chance he has at reelection.

One serious Republican has filed for Governor so far, State Senator Mike Dunleavy.   He’s a big Irish Catholic cop of a man, with a lovely Native wife and three daughters.  He has a solid conservative record, and would be acceptable to most Republicans in the state.  If no other serious Republican files, he’s probably the next Governor of Alaska.

The filing deadline is June 1, 2018.  Until then, nobody knows who the next Governor of Alaska will be.  But on June 2, we’ll have a pretty good idea.


Getting to 50 for arctic oil

It’s become apparent that the 2018 budget reconciliation bill will include a provision opening the Arctic Oil Reserve (AOR), or Area 1002. of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Will there be 50 votes to pass it?

Senator McCain has opposed it in the past, but it doesn’t seem he’ll be around next year.  The cancer that struck him, barring a medical miracle, will force him to retire.  Gov. Ducey is certain to replace him with a reliable conservative, so AOR will have one more vote in favor.

Lindsey Graham is always a question mark, but since this oil is a strategic asset, and will cement our bonds with Japan, he’ll probably vote in favor.  National defense and security are his top concerns, and the oil from Alaska is an asset that will be deployed in their support.

Collins of Maine will be the hardest Republican vote to get.  She and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are the two most liberal Republicans in the Senate.  They are close friends, and support one another.  Maybe her relationship with Alaska’s Murkowski will persuade her.

And then there’s Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.  They’re persuadable, perhaps.  Other D’s are possibilities as well.  It looks as though the 50 votes needed will be there.

The problem, of course, is that in the next twelve months things may go to hell in a hand basket.  Are the Republicans capable of passing anything?  Too soon to tell, but things are sure ugly in D.C.

One obvious candidate to replace McCain is Arizona House Speaker J. D. Mesnard.  This is a hard core conservative.  Before he became Speaker he pushed through a bill to expand the Arizona Supreme Court from five members to seven.  This gave Gov. Ducey two new seats to fill, and tilted the balance of the court in the conservative direction.  I’m sure Gov. Ducey appreciated it.

As Speaker since January, Mesnard has worked hand in glove with the Governor.  He carried his bills, and his water.  He’s a very effective legislator.

He graduated from Arizona State and went to work as a staffer for the Arizona State Senate at the age of 21.  He ran for the State House when he was 29, and is in his fourth and final term.  Since he’s term limited, at the end of the 2018 session he’ll be out of a job.  He’s a talented young man, and his talents should not go to waste.

I’m sure they won’t, one way or another.  But that’s up to Gov. Ducey.

The story of the Inupiat and Arctic oil

From today’s American Thinker



The health and welfare of Alaska’s Native people is dependent on the responsible development of the resources on their lands and adjacent areas.  To escape the reservation mentality of the Natives of the lower 48, in many cases they have done just that.

When former Governor Jay Hammond became the part time manager of the newly formed Bristol Bay Borough in 1965 he found that 97% of the payday from the fish caught within the borough’s boundaries went to  non-residents, mostly from outside Alaska.  As Borough Mayor he eventually persuaded the voters to approve a 3% use tax for the harvest of these fish.

In his Tales of Alaska’s Bush Rat Governor, Hammond describes the result.  “In 1965, the borough’s budget totaled $35,000.  My part time salary was $8,000.  My full time secretary got $12,000.  By contrast, in 1988 the budget was $4.7 million!  The manager’s salary was $80,000, there were 21 full-time employees and  —  you guessed it —  property taxes have gone up!”   What’s more, this area’s Bristol Bay Native Corporation has paid $200 million in dividends to its 10,000 shareholders.

Alaska’s Eskimo people, the Yupiks of western and southwestern Alaska, and the Inupiats of the North Slope, have emphatically proven their ability to oversee responsible resource development.  Taking their cue from Hammond’s Bristol Bay Borough, the Inupiats established the North Slope Borough in 1972, and have used their taxation of the oil industry to vastly improve the living conditions of its citizens.

The Inupiat Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) is the largest locally owned and operated business in Alaska, with 12,000 employees, almost 4,000 in Alaska.  ASRC has paid $915 million in dividends to its 13,000 shareholders, and distributed over $1 billion to other Native corporations.  75% of its executives are Inupiat.

The Yupik NANA Native Corporation selected federal lands with known lead and zinc deposits, and in partnership with Teck Resources developed the Red Dog mine.  In 2014 alone Teck earned $143 million for NANA, $93.7 million of which was distributed to other Native corporations.   Over half of the mine workers are NANA shareholders, many residing in small villages in the region.

The Arctic Oil Reserve, also known as Area 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR), is the most promising oil prospect in North America.  It was the state of Alaska’s first choice when selecting federal lands at statehood, but was needed by the military for Distant Early Warning Line radar stations.  The state took Prudhoe Bay as its second choice.

The northern section of ANWR in the Arctic Oil Reserve is indisputably the traditional home of the Inupiat.  Its only occupants are the 239 Inupiats of Kaktovik.  The Inupiats of the North Slope Borough favor the development of this field.  It has the potential to fill the Trans Alaska Pipeline, currently running at 25% of capacity.   All Alaskans would benefit from the responsible use of this barren and hostile land.

But such development is opposed by the Gwich’in, an Athabaskan tribe that occupies the area far to the south of the Arctic Oil Reserve in tiny Arctic Village, population 152.  They live a precarious subsistence lifestyle, aided by welfare and other government programs.  They are a caribou people, dependent on the Porcupine Caribou herd for sustenance.  They claim this herd could be harmed by development of the Arctic Oil Reserve.

This is a familiar argument to Alaskans.  Environmentalists initially blocked construction of the pipeline, claiming it would hurt the caribou herds.  But when the pipeline was finally built the caribou liked it, sometimes congregating around its warmth in winter.  Now there are more caribou in the area than there were before the pipeline was built.

Thanks to rapidly evolving technology, oil development in Alaska’s arctic requires a rather small footprint.  The number of acres actually needed to drill and transport oil is miniscule.  With careful management, there will be no disruption of the Porcupine herd.  It will be a top priority for all involved.  The Gwich’in are being used by environmentalists to the detriment of all other Alaskans, Native and non-Native.

The Trump administration, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, want America to be energy dominant, and to use our dominance for foreign policy ends.  The natural market for the oil of the Arctic Oil Reserve is energy starved Japan, our closest ally in the Pacific.  The Japanese would pay a premium for a secure and stable source of oil, and would buy every barrel available in Valdez.

For the people of Alaska, especially its Natives, and in the national security interest of the United States, the Arctic Oil Reserve should be opened up.  The American people need to hear the story of the capitalist Inupiat, and to listen to them.  If it’s anybody’s oil, it’s theirs.

By Fritz Pettyjohn, former Alaska State Senator and House Minority Leader




The steep price of preservationism

30 miles south of me burns the Detwiler fire, 45,000 acres at the moment, and 7% contained.  We live a few miles west of 1400 square mile Stanislaus National Forest, which is fire country.  All the National Forests I know of are fire country.

Gifford Pinchot and President Theodore Roosevelt founded the National Forest Service at the beginning of the 20th century.  They were conservationists, not preservationists.  Conservationists believe our forests are lands of many uses, and good forestry management involves harvesting some of the timber.

Properly managed, forests don’t need to be fire country.  In many western states, such as Idaho, state owned and managed forests produce timber, and jobs, and are conserved.  But they are harvested in such a manner that greatly reduces the risk of catastrophic wild fires.  It just takes proper management.

Today’s National Forest Service is run by preservationists, who want to minimize any human impact on the environment, even if it’s benign.  They’re the spiritual descendants of John Muir, the original preservationist.  These people don’t want to manage forests, they just want to leave them alone.  They’re tree huggers.

Secretary of the Interior Zinke knows this, I do believe.  He’s from Montana, where the problem is as bad as it is anywhere.  He’s having trouble staffing up, due to Democratic stalling in the Senate, but word has it that he’s got a real pistol of a woman from Wyoming to run the Bureau of Land Management.  Let’s hope he’s got someone like her to run the Forest Service.  For people who live in fire country, it’s a very big deal.

Things are all set up to open up ANWR in 2018.  Here’s a link to the story.  This will really get the environmentalists excited.   These whack jobs think ANWR is “the crown jewel” of America’s Wildlife Refuges.  They get away with saying such claptrap because the American people are ignorant.

I’ve been thinking of ways to educate them, and put an article in to the American Thinker.  But there are better ways, and I’m exploring them.

My work with the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force is at a lull, and will stay that way until we raise some money.  We don’t get to 34 in 2018 without it, and I haven’t seen any yet.

So I’ll be spending some time working on Alaska politics.  State Senator Mike Dunleavy has filed, and I don’t know of a Republican in the state who would be a better nominee.  The nomination is his to lose.

But then there’s the incumbent Governor Walker, who ran as a Republican in 2010, before running, and winning, in 2014 as an Independent.  Former Senator Mark Begich may run as a Democrat next year, so Walker may run in the Republican primary, and might have a chance of winning.  Or he could run as an Independent again.  It could all get really interesting.

I’ve been involved in a lot of statewide races in Alaska, beginning in 1978.  Working on one again will bring back a lot of memories.

If ANWR opens up, the state of Alaska would start getting a very large revenue stream.  Let’s not screw it up this time.


The Congressional fix-all: your kids’ money

Passing Obamacare cost you money.  The people of Nebraska and Louisiana were given extra goodies in the bill, and those bribes weren’t cheap.  Repealing this law will be expensive as well.  What can only be called “the Alaska Purchase” is a provision in the proposal which will cost $1 billion over the next decade.  It’s a special benefit for Alaska, designed to win the support of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.  Votes cost money.

It’s how Congress “works”.  Everything costs money, money that your children and grandchildren will pay in taxes and interest.  Eventually a bill to raise the debt ceiling will pass, probably in October.  That will cost money.  Fixing the mess of Obamacare is going to cost a ton of money.  Passing a budget will cost a fortune.

By the end of the year, it’s a good bet this Republican Congress, under a Republican President, will add a trillion dollars to the national debt.  Trillion dollar deficits used to be a big deal.  But they’ve become the norm.

As the man said, something that can’t go on forever, won’t.  These deficits are going to destroy our currency, and economy, and our country.  Congress can’t solve the problem.  Congress is the problem.

The American Legislative Exchange Council meets later this week in Denver.  500 or so state legislators are expected, over 20 from Arizona alone.  They’ll be wearing some sort of badge promoting the Phoenix Convention.  Come one, come all.

Friday morning, after hearing from a couple of members of Trump’s cabinet, Congressman Ken Buck will speak on behalf of the Task Force.  Bill Fruth, Dave Guldenschuh and Dave Biddulph will also make some remarks, as well as a member of the Arizona Legislature’s Convention Planning Committee.

The assemblage of Commissioners which will meet in the Arizona Capitol on September 12th will look like a legislature, and it will conduct itself in the manner of a legislature.  Anyone who watches any part of its proceedings will wonder, “Why can’t Congress function like that?”

It’s because Congress is a broken beyond repair institution, and an outside intervention is needed.  The Framers of the Constitution provided for this situation, in Article V.   Its up to the states, and their legislators, to use it.  That begins in Phoenix.