FAIRBANKS — Not many races have had a bigger imbalance than the one for Senate District C — one candidate has outraised and outspent his opponent by 100 to 1 — but it’s also one of the friendliest race in the Interior.
Candidates Click Bishop, Alaska’s former labor commissioner and winner of a heated three-way Republican primary, and Democrat Anne Sudkamp are vying for the empty seat that was created through the latest round of redistricting.
District C consists of House Districts 5 and 6 and includes University West, the airport, Chena Ridge and parts of Salcha, as well as Delta, Glennallen, Valdez and the Palmer area.
Sudkamp, a longtime Alaskan who has worked for the University of Alaska system, said she entered the race as a way to give back to the state after it helped her earn an education and raise a family.
“I’ve been in Alaska almost my whole life. Alaska has always been my home, and it’s been really good to me,” she said.
Sudkamp, who once hosted the “Frugal Fairbanksan” radio show, has run a largely shoe-string campaign in a large district that mostly leans Republican.
It’s been a very different story for her opponent. A highly contentious three-way primary race helped vault Bishop to the forefront with organization, momentum and fundraising heading into the general election. Bishop defeated former Sen. Ralph Seekins and Tea Party activist David Eastman.
“We worked very, very, very hard, and I had a ton of support from a broad cross-section of Alaskans,” Bishop said. “We’ve been busy in Fairbanks and working the street again and waving sings, and we’ll be doing that right up until election night.”
Bishop, a longtime union member, also locked down union support, which traditionally leans Democrat, early in the election.
That also wasn’t the only way Bishop broke traditional party lines. He refused to sign a pledge promising to stay out of the Senate Bipartisan Working Group, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans who namely denied Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil tax reduction.
“At the end of the day, I’m an Alaskan first and a Republican second, and I’m going vote for the district,” he said.
Despite the imbalance between the two candidates, they’ve shown nothing but good faith toward each other on the campaign trail. The heated ad blitzes that have characterized other contentious general election races haven’t been present in the race between Bishop and Sudkamp.
Sudkamp, who said she had some trepidation about entering politics, says Bishop has been a friendly opponent.
“It’s been such a wonderful experience and I have to say that it’s been great running against Click Bishop,” she said. “We’re not running negative campaigns and we’re getting our ideas out and we’re enjoying campaigning.”
On other issues, the candidates have largely agreed on issues such as support of capital projects aimed at energy relief and development of educational opportunities for Alaskans.
On the big ticket issue, oil taxes, the two have differing views.
Sudkamp argues in favor of “holding the line on that $2 billion dollar giveaway” and said it would take a lot to convince her.
“If studies show that we really need to change something, we would have to have written analysis and we would have to look at that very seriously,” she said. “We would need to have written guarantees and descriptions from the industry before we give anything away.”
Bishop has also said he’s not comfortable with cutting taxes to the degree that was outlined in the governor’s plan, but he said he believes some sort of tax reform is needed.
“I’ve said right out of the gate $2 billion is too much and a half billion isn’t enough,” he said, adding that the state needs to settle oil taxes more decisively. “We can’t be down here doing these do-overs on oil taxes every four years. It’s not fair to the people of Alaska and it’s not fair to the industry. Let’s figure this out and let’s get on to the next item on the agenda.”
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 or follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.