For many years, Alaska ranked No. 1 among states in the amount of federal money it received. Former senator Ted Stevens, who died in a plane crash this summer, used to brag about how much money he brought home to the state, as did Murkowski. Alaska’s reputation as a beneficiary of pork is embodied most dramatically by Stevens’s and other Alaskan politicians’ efforts to build a $400 million “bridge to nowhere” from Ketchikan to Gravina Island. But the truth, Alaskans say, is the state is 100 years behind in constructing such crucial infrastructure as bridges, roads and utilities.

Some Alaskans fear what will happen if those federal dollars dry up. “People up here like being far away, but it’s a hard way to go,” said George Page, 68, a retired truck driver who moved to Alaska from Southern California in 1967. “Heating fuel is $1 more a gallon than in the Lower 48. There are no roads. All the people in the Lower 48 hear about is our oil wealth, the dividend. It’s a perception that’s really, really hard to change.”

It will be even harder to fight for federal resources with a new senator who doesn’t want them. Even Miller’s supporters said they hope his anti-spending rhetoric softens once he’s in office.