Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Ralph Samuels To Challenge Alaska Governor Sean Parnell For The Republican Gubernatorial Nomination In 2010

Alaska's Republican Governor Sean Parnell has attracted a serious challenger who could defeat him in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010. Former Alaska State Representative Ralph Samuels, who served in the state legislature from 2003-2008 and who developed a reputation for being an expert on resource issues, has tossed his hat into the ring. First announcement posted on ADN's Alaska Politics blog; now a full-scale Anchorage Daily News story as well as on KTUU Channel 2. Another Republican, Anchorage attorney Bill Walker, is also in the race.

As of December 20th, Ralph Samuels now has an official campaign website:


Samuels is currently vice president for government and community relations in Alaska for tourism giant Holland America Line. He made his announcement after a Resource Development Council for Alaska luncheon in Anchorage. Samuels has been a consistent and outspoken opponent of Sarah Palin's AGIA; Samuels was the only lawmaker to vote against AGIA.

During the luncheon, Samuels described the vote to increase oil taxes as a feeding frenzy. "As governor I'll work to encourage economic development. We'll look at the current tax structures to determine whether or not there's an opportunity to stem the recent rapid decline in oil production and oil exploration in Alaska," Samuels said.

Dan Fagan also interviewed Samuels on his radio program on Wednesday December 9th:

An index of Anchorage Daily News stories is available HERE. You can find a gaggle of historical information on his legislative tenure at the AKRepublicans website and more recently on the House Majority website. In addition, several videos of speeches provide additional perspective. On November 8th, 2007, while still a lawmaker, Samuels presented a seminar on the inner workings of the Alaskan economy to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce. Videos of the presentation embedded below (hat tip to Deborah Brollini):

November 8th, 2007, Part 1:

November 8th, 2007, Part 2:

And on April 30th, 2009, Samuels, wearing his "Holland America hat", explains to an audience why the cruise industry has encountered some rough seas in Alaska at a meeting of the Resource Development Council.

A prospective political ally of Samuels is Andrew Halcro, who's running against Congressman Don Young for his seat. Halcro has long promoted Samuels' candidacy; he's also been a critic of AGIA who just recently said that a failed open season will prove once and for all that this entire AGIA goose chase has been a complete waste of three years, and that Alaskans have been misled by people who thought they could prop up a straw man and bluff three of the largest companies in the world into building the most expensive oil and gas project in the world.

Analysis: Like Sean Parnell, Ralph Samuels understands that to attract business and develop Alaska economically, we have to open the state for business. Too many populist measures such as the infamous Cruise Ship Initiative and the failed Clean Water Initiative send the message to potential investors that Alaska is closed for business. The corporate wing of the Alaska Republican Party thinks Palin's populist economic measures inhibit the desire to invest in Alaska.

But unlike Parnell, Samuels understands that Alaska remains disproportionately dependent upon Big Oil, which provides 90 percent of our state's revenue. Oil production is declining, making it more difficult - and expensive - for Big Oil to engage in the secondary recovery and additional exploration necessary to keep the Trans-Alaska Pipeline flowing. So Ralph Samuels wants to reduce oil taxes enough to increase the incentive for Big Oil to continue maximizing their operations until such time as we can further diversify and grow our economy. In contrast, Parnell remains wedded to AGIA and ACES.

Samuels has a good chance to defeat Sean Parnell in the Republican primary next year.

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