Republican candidates rally party support

Candidates Joe Miller, left, Dan Sullivan, center, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell appear on stage together at the state Republican Convention at Centennial Hall on Friday. The three are running against each over for the Republican nomination to run against Democrat Sen. Mark Begich next November.

JUNEAU — Alaska’s largest political party and its candidates for major offices are bracing for a fight this fall when the nation’s eyes turn to the 49th state’s U.S. Senate race.


The state Republican Party travelled to Juneau over the weekend for its biennial state convention, and delegates representing districts statewide seized the opportunity to learn more about the party’s candidates vying for state and federal office.

The event kick-started with Republican Gov. Sean Parnell and wife Sandy opening the mansion for tea with visitors, but the focus quickly shifted afterwards to the elections.

“The road to a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate runs straight through Alaska, and the Democrats know it,” said Dan Sullivan, a candidate for the Republican nomination.

Sullivan, a former state Attorney General and Department of Natural Resources commissioner, is running against current Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former Republican nominee Joe Miller.

Making their case

Sullivan’s pitch to the Republican movers and shakers was one about curtailing federal overreach and cultivating a climate that is development friendly toward Alaska’s natural resources.

It’s for that reason, he said, he would seek a seat on the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“There is an overregulation of Alaska and America in every single sector,” Sullivan said.

Treadwell focused on similar issues and also said he would want to be on the public works committee.

“That’s where we need to be to cut back the (Environmental Protection Agency),” Treadwell said.

But rather than focusing on energy development, Treadwell is seeking budgetary reform on the federal level.

“I will not vote to expand our country’s debt unless we also have a vote to have a balanced budget,” he told the audience. “We’re spending too much, and printing too much.”

Miller won the 2010 Republican primary against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, but she then mounted a successful write-in campaign to win in the general election — a fact Miller remembers very well.

The convention hall went quite after Miller was the only one of the three to say he would not commit to supporting the Republican nominee if he fails to win the primary. He said it’s because the other candidates for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich’s seat didn’t support him during Murkowski’s write-in campaign.

“Without that baseline of trust, I cannot make such a commitment,” he said.

His message to the convention was one of dire need for a new direction.

He urged the party to embrace its conservative core, rather than try and compromise.

“I don’t think this country — if it continues the way it’s going — will be around much longer,” Miller said. “We are moving in a direction opposite our foundation. We need to embrace the platform.”

He attributed much of the blame for the federal government’s growth at the feet of his own party.

For the state’s top elected Republican, Gov. Parnell said his next four years would be focused on the same issues recently addressed by the Legislature.

Those are getting the gasline built and ensuring the comprehensive education reform bill produces results for Alaskan children, he said.

“Our administration is going to build this gasline. There’s no doubt about that,” Parnell said, adding that the global economics are encouraging for the project.

“It’s not just a dream,” he continued. “You’ve got companies laying down money to go design a project.”

GOP Lt. governor candidates appear at forum

By Becky Bohrer, Associated Press

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Republican candidates for lieutenant governor sought to make distinctions between themselves during a candidate forum at the state GOP convention Saturday.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, are vying to be Gov. Sean Parnell’s running mate later this year. Parnell is not expected to face any real primary challenge.

The state’s current lieutenant governor, Republican Mead Treadwell, is seeking his party’s nomination for U.S. Senate.

The forum — the candidates’ opportunity to pitch themselves to party activists — included opening arguments and a question-and-answer section.

Sullivan said he is the only one running for the office with executive-level experience who could hit the ground running as governor. In addition to the traditional duties of lieutenant governor, he would also be interested in working on education reform, he said.

McGuire said she has extensive experience on statewide issues as a lawmaker, noting, among other things, her support for efforts to spur development in Cook Inlet and passage of last year’s oil-production tax cut. She also has a history of working across party lines, she said. If elected, she wants to work to increase voter access, McGuire said.

Both spoke about serving as ambassadors for Alaska.

Lawmakers this past session considered a number of proposed constitutional amendments.

When asked which they supported, McGuire cited proposed constitutional changes that would allow public money to be used for private or religious schools and to change the makeup of the Alaska Judicial Council.

She said she wanted innovation in schools and asked why only children from wealthy families should have choice in where they’re sent to school. On the judicial proposal, McGuire drew a reaction from some in the audience when she noted that only public members of the council — whose duties include screening applicants for and nominating to the governor candidates for judicial vacancies — are subject to legislative confirmation, while the attorney members on the council do not have to clear this hurdle.

Sullivan said offering choices in education is fundamentally important.

The two also were asked if they were ready to live in the historic House of Wickersham. A bill designating the building in downtown Juneau as the official residence of the lieutenant governor passed the Legislature last month. The house would remain open to public tours and events under the bill, which was pending review by Parnell.

McGuire said she looked forward to living there and seeing the building open to the public on a regular basis.

Sullivan said it wasn’t a problem for him, but he said he expected to be too busy to stay at the house.

There were some light moments. Sullivan, for example, referred to himself as the “original” Dan Sullivan. Former Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan is a Republican hopeful for U.S. Senate, along with Treadwell and Joe Miller.

On the Democratic side, Senate Minority Leader Hollis French of Anchorage and Palmer math teacher Bob Williams are running for lieutenant governor.

Byron Mallott is the highest-profile candidate seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

Craig Fleener plans to run for lieutenant governor as an independent alongside Bill Walker, who is running for governor.




Sun, 05/27/2018 - 20:29

Construction pauses for Memorial Day

Memorial Day travelers on the Kenai Peninsula won’t have to worry about construction traffic delays.

Read more
Sun, 05/27/2018 - 10:02

Soldotna narrows annexation options