AJOC EDITORIAL: Alaskans not fooled by ‘giveaway’ campaign


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No, Les Gara, Alaskans were not fooled.

In a response to our veteran reporter Tim Bradner about the results of the Aug. 19 primary that saw the effort to repeal oil tax reform defeated, Rep. Gara took the four-percentage point loss as a moral victory.

 “This shows the power of corporate money,” the Anchorage Democrat said, “but also that Alaskans are tough to fool.”

Gara’s statement implies, as the repeal supporters have alleged explicitly all along, that those who opposed their efforts and won the day are hapless saps gullibly shilling for the big, bad oil companies.

Along with personal attacks and charges of corruption and dishonesty against those who passed oil tax reform, the repeal supporters’ rhetoric drove the divisive tone of a campaign that has, at least for now, come to a merciful end.

On the morning of Aug. 20, the Associated Press was still describing the outcome of Ballot Measure 1 as “too close to call,” but that is wishful thinking. The repeal supporters would have to get about 80 percent of the absentee ballots to reverse the current gap of nearly 6,800 votes.

It would be nice to suggest we all come together now after a tough race and sing campfire songs, but there is certainly no indication that the opponents of tax reform and Gov. Sean Parnell are going to accept defeat.

They didn’t accept it in 2012 when Alaska voters broke up the Senate majority after oil tax reform was a major campaign issue and every seat but one in the Legislature was up for grabs; they didn’t accept the outcome of the Legislature’s vote to repeal ACES in 2013; and Gara’s comments Aug. 20 indicate that they will also write off this outcome similarly as an illegitimate result bought and paid for by the oil companies who supply 90 percent of the state’s unrestricted revenue and a third of its jobs.

If you think your opponents are stupid and/or corrupt and then build a campaign around that theme, it is difficult from this perspective to believe that it is being done in the service of what’s best for Alaska.

Thankfully, a solid majority of Alaskans who turned out (a bit more than 31 percent), rejected the false claims of a “giveaway” and recognized the irrefutable truth that drilling increased, the production decline was halted and billions in potential investments were on the way after just a few months of oil tax reform being in place.

In the Mat-Su Valley where Sarah Palin got her political start, voters rejected her endorsement of repeal by nearly 3,900 votes.

In repeal ringleader Sen. Bill Wielechowski’s Senate District G, the “no” vote won by more than 2,000 votes in House Districts 13 and 14. [Correction: District G includes House Districts 15 and 16, where "no" won by 429 votes -Andrew Jensen]

In rural Alaska, particularly the North Slope, the “yes” vote also fell short. The “yes” vote barely squeaked by in Bristol Bay, the Aleutians and the Kuskokwim Delta by a couple hundred votes.

On the Slope and the Bering Straits/Yukon Delta districts, the “no” votes won by more than 900.

 Turns out the only people fooling themselves were the repeal supporters who tried to sell a shady bill of goods to the voters of Alaska.

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