National

Alaska governor’s race may

hinge on oil-wealth checks

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The path to the governor’s office in Alaska this year may hinge on the oil check given to state residents.

Each year, the state distributes checks just for living here — residents’ share of the state’s oil wealth. For some, it’s discretionary money used for new toys, like big screen TVs, or socked into savings, while for others, particularly those who are lower-income or who live in high-cost rural Alaska, it’s a part of their income.

The checks went out like clockwork until 2016, when in the midst of legislative gridlock over how to address a multibillion-dollar budget deficit Gov. Bill Walker cut the size of everyone’s check by about half. He defended the move, along with additional budget vetoes, as necessary to preserve the state’s savings. Everyone could still get a check, he said, just not as big.

His action, upheld by the state Supreme Court, set a precedent: Since then, lawmakers have not followed the formula in state law for calculating the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks. Some have insisted doing so, while the state is still in a deficit, would be fiscally reckless. But the decision has brought with it political backlash, which Walker, an independent, hopes to withstand as he faces a tough re-election bid against conservative former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy and Democratic former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

Even under indictment, California

congressman is favorite

ALPINE, Calif. (AP) — The indictment of U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife that alleges they illegally converted his campaign account into a household checkbook reorders his re-election contest, giving Democrats a suddenly stronger hand in a district that for decades has embraced Republican candidates.

But even with charges shadowing him, it will be an upset if Hunter loses.

Two months ago Hunter coasted through the June primary despite the ongoing FBI investigation that produced the 60-count indictment. His 30-point, first-place finish made him a strong favorite to win a sixth term in November.

The 50th Congressional District east of San Diego is the most Republican in Southern California. The party holds a nearly 15-point registration edge over Democrats, and President Donald Trump won the district by the same margin while losing statewide by more than 4 million votes in 2016.

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