Alaska senate race: Will Joe Miller win mean less federal money for Alaska?
Alaska's Joe Miller is a fiscal conservative and front-runner for the senate seat now held by Republican Lisa Murkowski. Less seniority in the US Senate will likely mean fewer federal dollars for Alaska, say political observers.
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University of Alaska Anchorage political science professor Carl Shepro noted that in post-victory interviews, Miller has toned down his anti-spending stance a bit, probably to appeal to less conservative Republicans.Skip to next paragraph
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"So this is not a Joe Miller comes to D.C. and Social Security is gone, Medicare is gone," he said. "But what Joe Miller does do, and what those that I think are joining in this message do is get this government back from the fiscal brink, back from bankruptcy so that we can ensure that the contracts that we've made with our seniors, that we can honor those."
Still, Shepro believes Miller means to sharply cut the flow of federal money coming to Alaska. Shepro expects there would be plenty of senators more than happy to accommodate such a freshman.
Many Alaskans just don't realize how significant the federal government is to the state, where federal government bashing is a state pastime, said Clive Thomas, a political science professor at the University of Alaska Southeast.
"I think what people want is, they don't want the regulation, but they want the money," he said. "But you've got to walk a fine line and Ted Stevens realized that."
The importance of the federal government is recognized by many in Alaska's interior, where Stevens and Young have been revered for years by many, including Alaska Natives living in remote locations.
Tanana, a largely Athabascan community of 300, relies on federal funding for as much as 75 percent of the its economy, said Bear Ketzler, its city administrator. Ketzler, a Murkowski supporter, said it's too soon to feel the repercussions of losing Stevens. He fears Murkowski's loss will only add to an expected cut in federal aid.
"In the short term, we're going to be OK," he said. "In the long term, our future in Alaska looks very, very bleak."
Patti Higgins, state chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, said she disagrees. If Democrats retain their Senate majority, Alaskans would be better off to elect a second Democrat to the Senate, she said.
"With the Democrats in power, I think we're sitting pretty."