It's getting weird in Alaska.
Gubernatorial campaigns in the Lower 48 have followed a cut-and-paste template on government spending: Republicans accuse Democrats of wasting taxpayer dollars and planning to hike taxes, while Democrats accuse Republicans of planning to cut voters' favorite social services.
In Alaska, Republican Gov. Sean Parnell is flipping the script, accusing his opponent—independent Bill Walker—of planning to cut too deeply into government spending.
In Parnell's latest campaign ad, a narrator attacks Walker, who was a registered Republican until September, for promising "to cut the state budget by 16 percent, but he won't say what he'll cut." Over the sound of a cartoon buzz saw, the narrator asks: "Will Walker cut schools?"
It's another odd twist in a race that has strayed far from the typical partisan lines. Former Gov. Sarah Palin—a staunch conservative and tea-party favorite—endorsed the Walker ticket, which includes a Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. The move was another step in a political divorce, as Parnell was Palin's lieutenant governor when she ran the state.
At the heart of the dispute Parnell's management of the state budget, a question complicated by a 2013 restructuring of oil and gas production taxes and the current plummet in energy prices. Parnell's camp argues the taxes have protected the state budget from the price dive, but Walker argues he's coming under attack for trying to fix a problem Parnell created. And the challenger says he hasn't committed to a specific figure for cuts.