Highlights from Tuesday’s primary elections in Alaska and Wyoming.
Three Republican challengers have waged contentious campaigns in Alaska to take on U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in the fall.
The race is important to Republicans nationally because Begich, a first-term incumbent Democrat, is seen as vulnerable and the GOP needs a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate.
The Alaska GOP Senate race mirrors national trends, with tea party conservatives trying to knock out mainstream Republicans. The race features former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner Dan Sullivan, current Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and tea party favorite and 2010 GOP Senate primary winner Joe Miller.
OIL TAX REFERENDUM
Alaska voters will decide if their old system for taxing oil companies is better than the new one.
The referendum asks voters if they want to reject the 2013 law, championed by Gov. Sean Parnell. It replaced the production tax that was pushed by former Gov. Sarah Palin.
Critics say Palin’s plan was an investment killer. It gave tax credits for investment, but contained a progressive surcharge that companies say ate too deeply into profits.
Referendum advocates contend Parnell could have fine-tuned Palin’s oil tax measure but instead pushed the new law, which they say gives tax breaks to profitable petroleum companies at the expense of revenue that belongs to the people of Alaska.
Wyoming’s U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi faces four lesser-known Republican challengers in the state’s primary as he seeks his fourth term.
The 70-year-old Enzi says he is seeking another term because his seniority on several Senate committees serves Wyoming’s interests.
Enzi’s most serious challenger had been Liz Cheney, the elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. She had difficulty getting mainstream Republicans to back her candidacy and, citing family health issues, dropped out of the race in January.
Gov. Matt Mead seeks a second term in Wyoming’s GOP primary — the near-equivalent of a general election in the overwhelmingly Republican state.
His top challenger is state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill, who attracted tea party support when she was temporarily ousted from her elected post under legislation signed by Mead.
During Mead’s term, unemployment has dropped to about 4 percent. Mead, a former federal prosecutor, also has presided over an increase in Wyoming’s savings and enticed high-tech companies to expand in the state.
Two out-of-staters are running as Democrats in Wyoming’s primary — and one has a very good chance of winning Tuesday because he was the only one to register.
Richard Grayson, a 63-year-old political gadfly from Apache Junction, Arizona, is the lone contestant in the Democratic primary for U.S. Congress. No Wyoming Democrat bothered to register; the seat is held by Republican U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who is seeking a fourth term in Washington.
Grayson said he has run for Congress several times before in other states. It’s legal; a candidate simply must reside in the state they want to represent by Election Day.
Another non-Wyoming resident also is running Tuesday. William Bryk, a Brooklyn attorney, is one of four candidates seeking the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. He’s also running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in Alaska and has run for Congress in other states over the past several years.
TWO DAN SULLIVANS
Alaska Republican voters might think they’re seeing double on Tuesday’s ballot with two Dan Sullivans running for higher office.
Dan Sullivan, the former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner, is seeking the Republican party nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Sen. Mark Begich, who is seeking re-election.
The other Dan Sullivan — or the “original” Dan Sullivan, as he has referred to himself because he’s older– is the Republican mayor of Anchorage, known for his political battles with labor unions. He is seeking the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.
A week from Tuesday comes primary elections Vermont, Florida and Arizona, where six Republicans look to replace outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer in a GOP primary that has focused on immigration, border security and economic issues. The winner will face Democrat Fred DuVal in November.
In Florida, former Gov. Charlie Crist, who won in 2006 as a Republican, is running to regain the office as a Democrat and is a heavy favorite in the party’s primary against former state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich. Republican Gov. Rick Scott has token opposition from two political unknowns in his primary.
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