Sure, 2012 may be a presidential election year, but the local races are where the drama is in Alaska. A drawn-out redistricting process has resulted in nearly all of the state's House and Senate seats being up for grabs, and challengers have come out in force to make a play for those open seats.
The biggest money so far has been flowing into the Republican primary races, where several upstarts are hoping to challenge incumbent lawmakers or claim new seats made available by redistricting. At the heart of the Republican strategy this election season is reducing the size of the Senate Bipartisan Working Group, a coalition of 10 Democratic and six Republican Senators who some allege are holding up oil-tax reforms supported by the Republican-led state House and Gov. Sean Parnell.
Some, of course, are juicier than others, and as is often said in politics, one need only follow the money to see where the hotspots are.
With less than one week remaining before the Tuesday primary elections weed out the candidates who campaign hardest and win the most hearts and minds, here are three high-cost races to watch, and why.