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U.S. Senate Republican Candidates Respond to Rural Issues

As seen on Channel 2 KTUU's program Alaska Asks. U.S. Republican candidate forum. Joe Miller (left), Dan Sullivan (middle), and Mead Treadwell (right). Sponsored by KTUU and the Alaska Press Club. Aired Friday April 25, 2014.

Campaign season for the U.S. Senate is underway. Last week three of the state’s Republican candidates responded to questions from Alaskans. The forum aired on KTUU and hosted Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller, former Attorney General Dan Sullivan, and current Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell.

The first question asked about protecting king salmon from high sea fishery bycatch. All the candidates said science contained the answer. And Treadwell added collaboration between Alaska and Russia is a necessary part of the solution.

“We’ve got to work with our neighbors in the Arctic,” Treadwell said, “to make sure what they’re taking, and it affects our fish is also taken into consideration. And helping the Coast Guard have better enforcement at the line is very important. Making sure we have that we keep up that international cooperation in the Bering Sea where it affects all of us— no matter what’s happening in global politics—has been one of my priorities.”

When asked what the candidates would do to fight teen suicide, each candidate said providing jobs and hope are necessary, but no specific solutions were offered. Sullivan acknowledged the problem is intertwined in both social and economic issues.

He said, “A lot of times there’s a separation: we have social problems in communities in Alaska and economic issues. They’re connected. The communities that have hope, that have jobs, that have potential, are the ones that in many ways are doing better with some of these big issues of suicide and domestic violence. And so we have to look at these issues as a whole.”

As far as the federal government’s regulation of Alaska’s natural resources, each candidates’ message to the feds was the same: back off. Sullivan and Treadwell both accused Democratic Senator Mark Begich of allocating the state’s resources to the federal government. And each condemned the Obama administration of federal overreach. Though Miller disagreed with that term.

“We don’t use the words federal overreach,” Miller said, “We use the words soft tyranny. What the federal government is doing right now is inexcusable. The Constitution has enumerated powers. I don’t see an enumerated power that allows the federal government to hold the vast swath of land that it has in this state or in the other Western states.”

Concerning a state gas line, each candidate viewed its construction as imperative. Treadwell called the project critical to strengthening Alaska’s trade and energy security. On abortion, the candidates took a strong pro-life stance. And on government surveillance, the message was the same as towards natural resource regulation—back off— with each calling for oversight rooted in the constitution.

The primary election is slotted for August 19, 2014.

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