Democrats Court Palin in Alaska Oil-Tax Fight

Image: Democrats Court Palin in Alaska Oil-Tax Fight (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 08:23 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Alaska Democrats trying to pass a statewide referendum to restore the tax rate on oil companies that former Gov. Sarah Palin championed would like her to take part in their campaign, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Republicans lowered taxes on the oil companies, collecting $4.3 billion instead of $6.3 billion in revenues. Palin posted a video on her subscription website explaining the merits of reverting to the higher rate. She said "crony capitalism" and "Big Oil" were able  to "regain control" of the issue within six years of her leaving office.

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Otherwise, she has sat out the referendum battle and has practically no communication with Democrats who support a yes vote to repeal the revised lower tax rate.

Opponents of the referendum say that with Alaska crude-oil production in decline keeping taxes down makes Alaska competitive with other energy-producing states.

The No on One camp is far better funded. Yes on One does not even have enough money to air a statewide TV commercial.

"It's really up to her to tell the public what she has in mind and what she will do," said Vic Fischer, the 90-year-old chairman of Yes on One.

The value of Palin's active involvement is debatable. She has a 55 percent unfavorable rating among Alaskans.

Andrew Halcro, who heads the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and is on the No side says that if Palin gets involved she risks "reminding everybody how much we don't like her anymore," the Journal reported.

Palin's old Democratic opponent, state Sen. Bill Wielechowski, said he would nonetheless welcome her joining the campaign. "There's no grudges. She attacked us when she ran for vice president, her relationship with Democrats immediately, instantaneously turned bad."

Wielechowski added, "Alaska is a small state and you disagree with someone on one issue and you could be in total alignment with them on another," the Journal reported.

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Public opinion surveys predict the outcome to the Aug. 19 referendum will be close.

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