U.S. Senate Republican Candidates Debate Addresses Resource Development, Government Overreach

All three candidates vying for the Republican nomination in August’s senatorial primary election squared off over a variety of issues in Anchorage on Thursday.

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U.S. Senate Republican candidates Joe Miller, Dan Sullivan, and Mead Treadwell faced a crowd of well over 200 people in the East High School Auditorium.

Treadwell took shots at the amount of money coming into Sullivan’s campaign from outside of Alaska… Sullivan countered by questioning Treadwell’s fund raising activities….which Treadwell responded to with a sense of levity.

Sullivan: “Can you give us a number of how many of those fund raisers you had in 2013 and were you traveling on the state’s dime when you went to these numerous, numerous fund raisers in the Lower 48?”

Treadwell: “Thanks, Dan. I’m glad you’re so concerned about outside money…(crowd laughter)”

Sullivan, who has raised far more money than his opponents to date, countered – again bringing Treadwell’s fund raising methods into question.

“We have been out-raising any of my opponents, and if you take away the self-financing that you’re doing with regard to your candidacy, looking in the mirror and asking yourself for a loan, we’re almost out-raising both of you together with Alaskans, grassroots Alaskans,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also said Alaskans need a doer in Washington DC, not a talker – and Miller questioned which of those groups Sullivan would fall into

“What we don’t need is somebody that claims to be fighter, but behind him is being funded by Karl Rove, who is behind the very things that are  destroying this country,” Miller said.

As the candidates addressed a variety of other issues ranging from the IRS and foreign policy, to abortion and gay rights, natural resource development and federal overreach remained a common thread throughout the conversation.

When asked what the number one impediment to natural resource development is, Miller says it’s compromise and “environmentalism run amok.”

“EPA regulations cost more than 5 percent of our annual gross domestic product…the equivalent of the cost of defense and homeland security combined,” Miller said, quoting a Washington Times Op-Ed by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul. “Since EPA regulations have expanded, unemployment in America has increased by 33 percent. This abuse of power by the implementation of regulations infringes upon our basic Constitutional rights.”

Miller followed up by saying bold actions, such as scaling back or abolishing the EPA would be necessary.

Treadwell says the biggest issue in resource development is access.

“We have physical access, we need ports, we need roads, we need railroads, we need pipelines, and those are things that will make our natural resources go to market,” he said.

Treadwell also says legal, labor, and intellectual access is imperative to natural resource development, as is access to markets to sell Alaska’s natural resources.

Sullivan says federal overreach isn’t just the primary obstacle to natural resource development in the state, but to a plethora of other industries as well.

“I used to think it was just in the resource sector…it is everywhere: tourism, financial industry, fishing, small businesses, big businesses,” Sullivan said. “There is hardly an Alaskan that I have met on the campaign trail that does not have some story about federal overreach.”

The debate was organized by the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club in conjunction with radio stations KOAN and KVNT.