Alaska’s Ongoing Congressional Race Will Offer Clear Differences on Energy

Alaska’s Ongoing Congressional Race Will Offer Clear Differences on Energy

June 15, 2022

Alaska’s election process to replace the late Don Young is incredibly clunky.  Thanks to a citizen initiative that instituted ranked-choice voting, a 48-person free-for-all primary is over, except for the counting of the ballots, which is due to be finished early next week.

For now, there appear to be three shoo-ins moving on to the ranked-choice general election on August 16th: Republican former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Republican businessman Nick Begich (not to be confused with Mark, his uncle and liberal, former U.S. Senator) and Independent (but left-of-center) doctor Al Gross.  The final spot in the general appears to be a showdown between Democrat and former state legislator Mary Peltola and Republican and former Trump appointee Tara Sweeney.

Of the three certain to make the final, both Palin and Begich are seen as pro-responsible development, and both understand the need for Alaska to be a leader in continued extraction of oil, gas and minerals needed for American energy security.  Both have been vocal in their support of a robust and complete public process around projects such as the Pebble Mine (instead of the hijacking of the process by politically-powerful interests), and both understand that infrastructure projects designed to access development opportunities must be championed through Congress under their watch, as they were so successfully under Congressman Young for nearly five decades.

Should Sweeney make the top four, she would join Palin and Begich as energy champions for Alaska.  Having grown up on the North Slope during the development of the area using oil and gas royalties, coupled with her background with Alaska’s largest private company, ASRC, gives her insight none of the others have regarding how development partnerships can transform rural regions.

Gross has been vocal in his opposition to Pebble, but supports most oil, gas and mineral activities otherwise.  That mixed messaging has led the state Democratic Party to demonize him, as much of their leadership believes in the ‘leave it in the ground’ mantra of eco-extremism.

The Democrats would have their environmental and progressive champion if Peltola completes the final four.  After she noted at a candidate forum that she’d be in favor of drilling in ANWR’s 10-02 area and developing the Ambler Mining District, she was immediately attacked and vilified by the Left; leading her to quickly walk back her statement.  She is an ardent opponent of Pebble, as well as any other mining project that could – no matter what the odds say – impact salmon.

The next 50 days will be fast and furious, as this race only seats the winner through January, when a full-term Representative will be sworn in.  All of the leading candidates noted in this post are running for the full, two-year term as well.

Ultimately, Alaskans will choose our single Congressional representative to carry on the incredible legacy of Don Young.  Let’s hope the electorate is wise to the differences between the candidates on energy issues.  Alaska’s bright resource-based future will depend on it.