When Democrat Bob Poe began his campaign for the Alaska governorship, he thought he'd be running against Sarah Palin. Now, he's not sure who he'll be facing.
Possible options include incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell, or likely candidate Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez. And that's only if he gets past two better known candidates in the Democratic Primary, where he'll have to face Sen. Hollis French and former Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, both of Anchorage.
Fortunately, Poe said, he's got more experience working to bring jobs to Alaska in state government and in the private sector.
"The only one who does this stuff is me," Poe said Wednesday at a visit to the Juneau Empire during a campaign stop in Juneau.
Poe's made past campaign donations to both of his primary opponents, but is challenging them on their ability to create jobs.
"I like them both, I just don't think they'd be particularly good governors because I don't think they're experienced at it," he said.
Poe touts his role in developing the Federal Express hub in Anchorage and the Ketchikan shipyard, and said Alaska needs more diversification of its economy with ventures such as those.
Poe formerly held jobs such as executive Director the Alaska Industrial and Development Authority and as the state's Alaska International Trade director, and said he's got the background to make new developments happen.
Poe said Alaska will remain dependent on the oil industry in the near future, however, and should do what it can to get the trans-Alaska pipeline as full as possible, even if it means rolling back the Alaska's Clear and Equitable Act tax increase.
French supported the Palin-Parnell administration in adopting that bill, which brought billions to state government. Harris voted for ACES, but has since suggested oil taxes need to be lowered to urge production of more oil; Berkowitz was not in the Legislature in 2007.
Poe said it appears to have discouraged new investment in the state, and said he'd consider rolling it back.
"We need to make sure that we are an attractive place to do oil and gas business," he said. "Not too attractive, we don't need to give away the store, we just have to make it attractive enough that businesses want to extract and market the oil and gas we have here."
He won't back off the cruise ship initiative's head tax, however.
"That $50 head tax is important to reckon with the impact that the cruise industry does have on communities," Poe said.
While in Juneau Poe will be doing fundraising events and meeting with supporters, including an event at the Baranof tonight.
Contrary to the impression downtown, he does not yet have office space here.
"I don't actually have an office in Juneau, I have a sign in Juneau," Poe said. "It's very important to keep your fixed expenses low early on."
Contact reporter Pat Forgey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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