The GOP may hold the governor's mansion and control the Legislature, but former Republican state Sen. Jerry Ward said this week that state government still is too large and too costly.
Ward has announced he will run for the Alaska Senate in 2004.
"We have Republican majorities, but the direction the government is going is not the direction I want to go," Ward said Monday. "Like a lot of Republicans (voters), I want a smaller government, not a tax and spend government."
Ward, a resident of Nikiski, filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on June 1 saying he would run for the Senate District Q seat currently held by Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai.
The issues he raised and the positions he espoused in the 2002 election campaign have not changed, he said, but moves by Gov. Frank Murkowski and the Legislature in 2003 stick in his craw.
"I'm completely opposed to taking money out of the permanent fund dividend to spend on government," he said. "We should have a hiring freeze on government and reduce the size of government before taxing people on their tires and raising other taxes."
Ward said he supported a constitutional spending limit on government but watched from the sidelines as lawmakers passed a budget for next year that was larger than that of the current fiscal year.
"That's not a cap on government," he said. "The major issues are still the same. I'm not going to change my positions."
Ward lost to Wagoner by 123 votes in the fall election last year. Wagoner, who has since changed his party affiliation back to Republican, ran as a Republican Moderate, avoiding a primary fight with Ward.
The November election turned on allegations over Ward's residency.
Ward served eight years in the Senate representing the North Kenai area when it was combined with parts of south Anchorage.
Redistricting led Ward to purchase property and a trailer in Nikiski where he established residency in May 2001.
A decision by the Alaska Public Office Commission affirmed Ward's Nikiski residency insofar as Alaska election law was concerned, but opponents raised questions regarding whether Ward's allegiances were to the Kenai Peninsula or Anchorage constituents.
Ward said that come the 2004 race, there should be no remaining doubt about where he lives or whom he intends to represent.
He is planning a campaign fund-raiser sometime later this summer, but only after the July salmon fishing peak, he said. Looking ahead to the summer of 2004, Ward said he would focus on an expected primary fight.
"It's going to be a Republican primary. That's the first thing I'm going to zero in on. I have an excellent chance there," he said. "If I can get my message out, hopefully people will vote for me."
Ward said the 2002 election saw Democrats pour funds and support into Wagoner's campaign. Even the Democratic Party candidate, Pat Hawkins, withdrew from the three-way race, tossing his support to Wagoner.
Ward also said Wagoner enjoyed support "from Anchorage lawyers," which helped Wagoner garner the 123 votes by which he won.
Ward said the coming legislative session will see a push for a rural subsistence preference, something he opposes because he believes it makes two classes of people out of Alaskans.
"I'm opposed to classifying people by zip code," he said. "It takes away the right to subsistence on the Kenai Peninsula, and that's wrong."
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