Brad Keithley, one of the potential independent candidates for governor, must have the Republican establishment scared. I know this because I get texts and emails from those political activists who appear to be scared. They are going through his voting record, trying to make the case that he’s a Democratic operative who moved to Alaska just to sabotage Gov. Sean Parnell, much like Vic Vickers, who moved to Alaska to run against Ted Stevens in 2008.
In order to run for governor, a person has had to live in Alaska for seven years. Keithley has said that he will have been here seven years if and when he files for governor.
Republicans are also trying to make his voting habits an issue. It appears that the first time Keithley voted in Alaska was in 2010. He freely admits this and says that he didn’t register to vote in Alaska when he first moved here from Texas and he doesn’t recall voting in Texas since 2000.
Their fear is understandable. Keithley has been talking and writing to an increasingly growing audience about the spending problem in Alaska. His point is a simple one: since oil prices began to rise in the mid 2000s, Alaska has been on a spending spree that rivals the last big spree the state went on in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
You can still see bumper stickers on cars that were made in the earlier spree’s honor. “Dear God, give us another oil boom and, this time, we promise we won’t piss it away,” it reads.
Keithley’s point: we have had another oil boom, and we’re pissing it away. A fact that he is continually hammering away on is that since Parnell took office, the budget has increased by 55 percent.
Parnell, it should be noted, calls himself a fiscal conservative.
It’s a simple message, and although we can argue about the best way to cut spending, it’s hard to argue that we shouldn’t at least try, unless you’re Parnell, who has no plans to significantly cut the budget for the next five years, or for as long as he’s in office if he gets a second term.
The people who benefit from all the state government largess — people like the developer Mark Pfeffer, the master of sole source government contracts, and a prolific campaign contributor—aren’t likely happy about what Keithley is preaching. Those people are arguing that the state’s spending keeps Alaskans working. Which, as Keithley points out, sounds suspiciously like Obama’s stimulus plan. Unlike the federal government, however, nearly all of Alaska’s revenue comes from one source, and that one source is continually declining. Even if the producers do start to pump more oil because of the recent tax cut, the state is heading for a fiscal cliff.
According to UAA’s Institute of Social and Economic Research, Alaska doesn’t have the savings to forestall a fiscal crisis much after 2023.
Keithley thinks that it’s important that Alaskans hear that message.
Keithley is threatening to run for governor, but hasn’t yet filed. If he does, there will be all sorts of time to dig deeply into his past. For now, however, he’s a private citizen speaking what he feels is a message that needs to be heard. Some, apparently, don’t want him to tell it.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org