Russ Millette, the former controversial chair of the Republican Party, has filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to run for governor on the Republican ticket. Millette will be facing Gov. Sean Parnell in the primary. He’ll be running on fiscal discipline and has a plan to give half of the Permanent Fund back to the people before it gets raided by the Legislature, he said in an interview on Friday.
Millette was a relative unknown until he was elected party chair in 2012 by a loose coalition of Ron Paul and Joe Miller supporters. Shortly thereafter, the Republican “establishment” basically booted him, and put his second in command in charge. Shortly after that, she too was booted. Before she left, she locked the party headquarters’ door behind her, hid the key and left a note that trespassers would be prosecuted.
This is all to say that Millette and his supporters—which aren’t as few as some would like to believe—aren’t loved by the Republican establishment, who consider them less Republican than a dangerous fringe group. Indeed, that “fringe group” even has a name. They call themselves the Alaska Republican Assembly, and say that they are fighting for the “soul” of Alaska’s GOP.
Some Republicans aren’t buying it. “Russ Millette is no more a Republican than I’m a ballerina for the Bolshoi Ballet,” Alaska GOP Vice Chair Frank McQueary said when told about Millette’s plans.
But Millette, who is 68 years old, says he wears the party mantle as proudly as any of them and says he’s been a Republican nearly his whole adult life, with a slice of time off as an Independent. He boasts that he volunteered for both Barry Goldwater and for Ronald Reagan.
There are all sorts of ways to be a Republican, he said. His way is the “anti-establishment” way.
“I usually find that candidate who the Republican establishment is against, and I support that person,” he said.
Millette’s platform and his plan will likely grate many, who will call it a populist ploy. But if he plays it right, it might be a very smart populist ploy. He wants to take half of the Permanent Fund—roughly $25 billion–and give it to the people. That would amount to a check of about $35,000 to every man, woman and child in Alaska.
He says it’s either that or let the Legislature spend it on growing state government, “They’re going to come after that money,” he said. “It was created for the people,” he said and it should go to the people.
As for oil taxes, the other big issue, he said that he’s for a flat tax. Both SB 21, and ACES, are too confusing, Millette said. With a flat tax “we’d know what’s coming in and what’s going out.”
He also plans on focusing on deregulation in order to open the door to independents who want to drill on the North Slope.
“The incumbent Governor has become a lobbyist for foreign oil companies and that has to stop,” he said.
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