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Alaska Democrats rally to Clinton -- how can that be good for Alaska?

I read with interest that Alaska Democrats are partnering in a fundraising campaign with presidential contender Hillary Clinton. According to the Sept. 22 Alaska Dispatch News, some of the money raised by Alaska Democrats will go to Clinton's campaign. The rest will go to the Democratic National Committee and 33 state parties, Alaska's included, that have joined a joint fundraising committee called the Hillary Victory Fund.

Surely Alaska Democrats know that Mrs. Clinton recently confirmed her steadfast opposition to energy development in Alaska, building on her long-standing opposition to ANWR with declarations that exploration offshore Alaska is "not worth it."

Mike Wenstrup, Alaska's Democratic Party chair, said that the ?Hillary Victory Fund is "an effort to help state parties benefit from the excitement around Democratic presidential candidates, so we can elect Democrats up and down the ticket in 2016 and beyond."

It's anyone's guess how many Democrats are genuinely excited about Hillary Clinton, but do Alaska Democrats really want her to be the next president of the United States?

The current Democratic administration has been singularly destructive for Alaska's economy. Seemingly in the process of permanently closing off the energy-rich areas of ANWR, President Obama earlier this year announced he was locking up 22 million additional acres -- about the size of Indiana -- land and water that could yield tens of billions of barrels of oil. That's in addition to the millions of acres he declared off-limits in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, an area specifically set aside for oil and gas exploration and production.

While he gave lip service to supporting Arctic drilling, Obama's actions -- subjecting Shell's multibillion-dollar Arctic drilling program to a Kafkaesque regulatory maze -- belied his feigned support and indisputably helped put the plans on ice.

Obama did tease a glimmer of hope by talking the talk. And hope matters when your economy is in tatters, as is Alaska's.

Mrs. Clinton's Alaska policies -- as she has now made clear -- would continue those of Obama, but without the hope. Why would Shell or anyone else bet billions of dollars to stay in Alaska when there is a chance of a Clinton presidency blocking any development?

Naturally, environmentalists are cheering Mrs. Clinton's energy positions, which not only oppose offshore drilling and the Keystone pipeline, but would also lock up more federal lands, promising an even more onerous permitting process than is already in place.

Alaska does not need a more uncertain regulatory climate. It's expensive and risky enough to drill in the far frontiers of the state -- the very areas that hold our future.

Some will cry that this commentary is purely partisan. But leaders among traditional Democratic allies suggest otherwise:

Upon hearing that Clinton opposes the Keystone pipeline, Terry O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers International Union of North America, said of today's Democratic Party's attitude toward working families: "Their jobs are once again being dismissed because of the need for candidates to curry favor from environmental elitists."

Mr. O'Sullivan went on to say, "(T)he White House can cement its legacy of turning its back on American workers and congratulate themselves on fueling a radical movement that undermines our energy security and takes food off of the table of middle class workers."

Once, the Democratic Party billed itself as the champion of American workers. Today's Democrats are focused on their wealthy donors. Democrats were once proud advocates of the less fortunate who need extra help. But if our state has no serious economic activity, we'll have no help to give.

Yet when you ask Democrats what their plan for economic development entails, you get blather about becoming an "Owner State," which simply means heavily taxing and nationalizing oil companies. Venezuela, Mexico, and, yes, Norway all tried to substitute government interests and judgment over the private sector and the people, and these places are all in trouble for it.

One wonders if some Democrats would actually prefer a greatly reduced Alaska workforce composed mostly of federally subsidized nonprofits and environmental groups. The only people around would be a few Tier 1 retirees and eco-tour guides and their customers -- a smattering of government officials, their wealthy donors, and academic and environmentalist elites.

If this sounds like the Alaska for you and your kids, then by all means vote Democratic up and down the ticket, with Hillary Clinton at the top.

The Republican Party has its issues but at least its candidates are all aligned to help, not restrict, Alaska in its need to explore and produce its most valuable energy resources. Democrats either want to see our resources off-limits to development or they are engaging in cognitive dissonance. If they can't be honest with us, they should at least be honest with themselves.

With Clinton in the White House and leftists in the state Legislature, jobs will disappear and the mass exodus will begin.

Welcome to the expensive government-run summer camp called Alaska.

Paulette Simpson lives in Douglas. She is past president of the Alaska Federation of Republican Women.

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com

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