ABC’s Stu Schutzman from New York:
The fur is flying up north. There’s not nearly enough smoke spewing from Alaska’s Mt Redoubt to obscure the tensions between Sarah Palin and the Alaska legislature. Accusations are rampant, accusing the Governor of refusing to accept a third of the federal stimulus money due Alaska, just under $300 million, in order to further her personal political agenda.
The Governor reiterates on the state website that she opposes growing the state government and taking federal dollars with strings attached. She asks “how we will get out of the fiscal hole we’ll be in just two years from now when those temporary funds are gone?” Members of both parties claim that’s a specious argument since states accept federal handouts all the time.
Its “outrageous,” says Alaska Democratic Chairwoman Patti Higgins, “that we have a governor who is willing to turn down Alaskans’ fair share of federal stimulus money.” “Incomprehensible” said another.
Republican lawmaker Mike Hawker, in a rebuke to the Republican governor, says the legislature has found very few strings attached to the federal dollars. The legislature appears to be ready to overrule the governor and accept the money. The Republican president of the Senate, Gary Stevens says the governor is free to take the high road if she chooses but “I think I’d rather personally take the low road here and say I don’t want to leave any money on the table.”
In an attempt to resolve all this legislative leaders called for a meeting with the governor yesterday. They claim she was a no show. Her website says she agreed to do it by phone and they “canceled the meeting to host their own press conference.” “Absolutely false, absolutely false,” says Stevens, “We’re here, we’re available, and unfortunately she is not.” Again, that’s coming from a republican. Sounds like irreconcilable differences.
So what’s really going on here? Many believe that Palin is looking down the road to the next Presidential cycle and using this crisis to reinforce her conservative credentials with the party base. “It is very clear,” says Higgins, “that the governor is doing this just to further her own narrow political agenda and ambitions.” But some analysts believe she can have it both ways because the legislature will vote to end run her and accept the money anyway.
The political danger down the road for Palin is that she may have burned down too many bridges at home……which no amount of stimulus dollars will rebuild any time soon.