Candidate finds cheap gas can draw a crowd

A congressional candidate’s offer of cheap gas drew a bipartisan crowd.

More than 100 people waited more than an hour Wednesday at a gas station to fuel up at $1.20 a gallon, thanks to Democrat Mike Weaver, who is running for the congressional seat held by Republican Rep. Ron Lewis (news, bio, voting record).

Weaver picked $1.20 because that was the price of regular unleaded when Lewis went to Congress in 1994. Weaver, who supports developing alternative energy, called Lewis a supporter of big oil.

Lewis called the giveaway “pure grade-school politics,” and noted his support of alternative fuels and of opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

On Thursday, he also accused accused Weaver of “playing fast and loose with the law” and asked the U.S. Attorney’s office to investigate whether the campaign event amounted to vote buying.

Weaver’s campaign, which limited customers to 10 gallons each, spent $1,510 to cover the difference from the regular $2.76 price on the 968 gallons sold during the lunchtime giveaway.

Weaver denied that he was buying votes and likened the offer to candidates handing out fans, combs or other items to gain name recognition with voters.

Weaver said he spoke to several Republicans who indicated they came out just for the discount.

Rhonda Swift, who got a spot near the front of the line, said the giveaway “probably won’t hurt” his chances in November. She said President Bush could do something to take the sting out of gas prices.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press