Until now, with a few exceptions, most of this fall’s state legislative races have seemed pretty predictable. The Democrats might pick up a few seats, but the House will stay in Republican hands, and though there might be one or two new faces in the Senate, it’s been assumed that there wouldn’t be huge upsets or surprises.
Brad Keithley spending up to $200,000 on some races could shake things up.
Keithley a lawyer until recently with Perkins Coie and now a consultant, has tried, and to some extent succeeded, in elbowing his way into Alaska’s political class by preaching fiscal responsibility. Last winter, he was toying with a self-financed run for governor. His model was Ross Perot’s self-financed independent presidential run. Keithley opted out of the governors race, however. Now, he’s found his “Ross Perot moment” in another way. “It’s time to put my money where my mouth is,” he said.
On Wednesday, Keithley announced that he plans to put up to $200,000 of his own money into general election races as an independent expenditure, targeting 3-5 seats this fall.
He’ll focus on candidates who, while campaigning, talk “fiscal conservatism” but who vote very differently while down in Juneau. Indeed, despite all the Republican rhetoric about such fiscal conservatism, budgets have been sky high and the state is going into deficit spending. Most of the legislators who voted for the ballooning budgets also voted for a resolution that would call for the federal government to balance the budget.
To Keithley and to others, including this reporter, such hypocrisy is maddening at best, particularly when economists are warning that the state can’t sustain its own level of spending.
“Instead of heeding these warnings, the legislature has gone backwards in the last two years by running up the two largest budget deficits in Alaska’s history and draining over a third of the state’s cash reserves,” Keithley said.
He says that the seats that he’ll target are ones that are winnable. ”We’re going to be professional and serious about this,” Keithley said. “I want to move the needle.”
When pressed on what races he intends to target, he said that he was still undecided. He’s getting help from former Anchorage talk show host Casey Reynolds, who lives in Kansas but was in Alaska recently.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org