Alaska’s three-way Senate race is getting plenty of national attention despite the lack of attention each candidate is spending on energy.
This week, Republicans Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski joined Democrat Scott McAdams for an informative discussion on many of the biggest national issues that each would face if elected to the U.S. Senate. But notably absent from the discussion was real talk about Alaska’s energy policy and how it relates to the rest of the country.
Securing the U.S. border with Mexico, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, repealing Obamacare, trimming the federal budget and the war with Afghanistan were all discussed at length before any candidate veered near anything energy-related.
All of the aforementioned issues are truly important to the United States, and Alaskans certainly have the right to know where each candidate stands on those issues. Yet, considering that 80 percent of Alaska’s economy comes from the oil and natural gas extraction industries, and that the Exxon Valdez spill is fresh on residents' minds after the Gulf oil spill, it was surprising to see energy buried so deeply in the debate.
Tea Party-backed Miller made the first mention of anything energy-related during a discussion about cutting the federal government’s budget. While all candidates seemed to favor reducing earmark appropriations for pet projects around the country, Miller proposed cutting Alaska’s earmarks in exchange for the right to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
“We need to focus on trading earmarks for ANWR, not cap-and-trade for ANWR. Earmarks for ANWR,” repeated Miller before a steady stream of applause erupted.
Murkowski, who is waging a write-in campaign after losing an August primary to Sarah Palin-supported Miller, made no mention of energy policy during the debate. This is interesting considering Murkowski is the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, and if re-elected she could chair that committee if Republicans win a majority in the Senate next week.
As for the Democrat, McAdams, a former commercial fisherman who has campaigned on a much greener platform than either Murkowski or Miller, he barely touched on energy. The closest McAdams came was when he said, “We are a natural resources state and we need to focus on bringing our resources to market.”
ABC is reporting that the race currently is a toss-up between Murkowski and Miller with McAdams’ numbers putting him a distant third. For those interested in watching the often feisty debate between the three candidates, this link directs you to KTUU’s website, which has videos of the entire Senate debate as well as the debate between the state’s gubernatorial candidates.