Alaska is a state to watch in the November elections, though not for the usual reasons. There is no Senate seat in play. The one House election won’t tell us much about the future of the Republican or Democratic parties; Alaska’s voters are too independent and quirky for that.
Instead, keep an eye on the governor’s race. Bill Walker, the nation’s only independent governor, is running for re-election after “giving a bear hug” to the third rail of Alaska politics: the Permanent Fund Dividend, otherwise known as PFD.
When the price of oil plummeted, taking Alaska state revenues with it, Gov. Walker cut the state deficit by more than half (from a peak of $3.4 billion to $700 million). He did that with over a billion dollars in spending cuts, but also by reducing the size of the check that goes out every year to every Alaska resident.
Will Alaska voters punish or reward an independent leader who served his state vegetables rather than ice cream?