If his exceedingly narrow margin over Sean Parnell holds up, Don Young may have been helped by a late endorsement by Ron Paul, who praised the Alaska congressman for his opposition to environmental extremists. Paul finished third in the Alaska caucuses (once polling even better) and his supporters have had some impact within the state GOP. I’ve always given Paul a pass for his appetite for earmarks because he has consistently voted for actual spending reductions and against unconstitutional appropriations bills, and because I think earmarks as a fiscal conservative issue are wildly overrated.
But if earmarks played even a small role in the Good Doctor’s support for an obnoxious big spender like Young, it is as a good an argument for the unhealthy incentives created by the earmarking process as any I’ve seen. Relatedly, when I interviewed Tom DeLay recently I mentioned Paul. The Hammer replied, “I love Ron Paul! Who do you think helped him with all his earmarks?”