Republican Rep. Bruce Weyh-rauch is running against both his Democratic opponent and the reputation of a governor who shares his party.
Weyhrauch, the one-term incumbent in House District 4, has bucked the Republican administration over the last two years, calling for the termination of the state ferry system's director last month and repeatedly voicing disappointment in Gov. Frank Murkowski's policy decisions.
"I've never kowtowed to the governor, Frank Murkowski, and I never will," Weyhrauch said, adding: "Murkowski is just not liked in Juneau for obvious reasons. You can't govern the same way in Alaska as you do in Washington, D.C."
He said Murkowski has not communicated well with voters, citing the decision to move the Alaska Marine Highway System offices from Juneau to Ketchikan earlier this year. Murkowski administration officials promised that both communities would be involved before a decision was made, but local officials, including Weyhrauch, were never consulted.
Weyhrauch, an attorney in private practice, held public hearings in the Alaska Legislature's House State Affairs Committee, where he serves as chairman, chastising Department of Transportation officials for the decision.
His Democratic opponent, Bob Doll, former head of the ferry system under Gov. Tony Knowles, has repeatedly tried to tie Weyhrauch to controversial decisions made by administration and Republican-controlled Legislature.
"I can't control what the governor and Senate does, but I can advocate for Juneau," Weyh-rauch said. "If Juneau does not have somebody like me doing that, then it's never going to have a voice at all."
But as a member of the majority, Weyhrauch said he's better positioned to challenge bad policy decisions as well as secure projects for Juneau and pass important bills.
"How could somebody in the minority hold a hearing with a committee? They couldn't," he said, adding that Doll would have been in no position to challenge the ferry system move. "You can be a little gnat buzzing around somebody's head, but unless you have the flyswatter to hit the gnat you're not going to do anything."
Weyhrauch has served on the boards of several local groups such as the Alaska Commercial Fishermen's Memorial, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, the AWARE shelter for battered women.
He said a big part of his job representing residents of the Mendenhall Valley and points north involves working with constituents and their individual problems. He said he receives calls every day from residents who need help.
"I think that I've developed a reputation for getting problems solved that people are having with the state and local government," he said.
Weyhrauch passed 14 pieces of legislation since first being elected. His graduated driver's license bill requires teens to spend more time practicing driving with an adult before getting an unrestricted license. An end-of-life bill he sponsored, also known as the "five wishes bill," allows individuals approaching death to give specific direction on how they will be treated.
He said the state should continue to pursue a statutory method of managing the Alaska Permanent Fund through an endowment method known as Percent of Market Value.
He has received endorsements from labor unions, the National Rifle Association, the United Fishermen of Alaska, the Associated General Contractors of Alaska and others.
He has raised $57,854 in campaign contributions.
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