Fish forum gets chippy with Treadwell, Begich



At the Bristol Bay Fish Expo in Naknek, gubernatorial candidate Mead Treadwell, a new entrant, took off the gloves and gave front runner Mike Dunleavy a taste of what Treadwell may have planned for him in weeks ahead.

The question during Saturday’s forum came from moderator Rhonda McBride: How do you grade the Legislature? Scott Hawkins answered that the Legislature did finally come up with a fiscal solution for using Permanent Fund Earnings (POMV), and although the Permanent Fund dividend is not as high as he thinks it ought to be, he still gave the Legislature a “B.”

Treadwell’s responded by saying: “So what Scott Hawkins is saying is the grade went up after Mike Dunleavy left.” The pro-Mark Begich audience laughed at the jab.

Begich, however, gave the House a B+ because of “bipartisanship,” and he gave the Senate a D-, calling it stubborn. The House is under Democrat control, and the Senate is firmly in Republican control.

It was the first gubernatorial debate of the season that brought all the candidates on stage, including Republican Hawkins, Democrat Begich and petition candidate Bill Walker.


When asked his opinion of the Pebble Mine, Begich quoted the late Sen. Ted Stevens, saying, “Wrong mine. Wrong place.”

Begich was the man who savaged Stevens while running against him in 2008, but on Saturday he was proudly quoting him in front of an anti-Pebble crowd.

Then Begich sniped at Walker, saying, “I think there are steps that could be done as governor that have not been done … When people say they are against it, they should be against it all the way. I think one of the first things I would do as governor of the state of Alaska, as I’m opposed to Pebble Mine, I would make sure the Army Corps of Engineers knows that state land, or state access, or state right of way would not be part of any of their plans. Therefore the State would not participate in that effort.”

Begich also took a swipe at Treadwell by saying the “Parnell/Treadwell Administration” had taken away coastal zone management program. Treadwell, as lieutenant governor under Parnell, had nothing to do with that, but this is politics.

But while all other candidates stated their grave concerns about the Stand for Salmon Initiative, Begich was the only one on stage who would not answer the question on whether it was a good ballot initiative. He used the art of redirection to talk about how the only reason initiatives like this are on the ballot is because the political system is broken, and he’s going to fix it.


Running for governor can be particularly humbling, and was especially so when the moderator Rhonda McBride asked each candidate if they had ever used a honey bucket. This is asking candidates if they’ve ever taken a dump in a bucket, which is still a common commode in rural Alaska and on some fishing boats.

The answers were: Begich, Dunleavy, Treadwell, Walker – yes. Hawkins – no.

The Republican candidate forum in Kenai the night before had been a lot more cordial. But it was with the Republican candidates only, and included lieutenant governor candidates.

In the lightning round questions in Kenai, candidates were asked to recall some wild thing they did in high school, and none of them could come up with anything remotely interesting. Only Kevin Meyer, candidate for lieutenant governor, went for a laugh line, saying, “I think streaking was popular back then…”

Ah yes, the spectator sports. Good times.

Watch the whole Bristol Bay Fish Expo debate here.


  1. Well, I got baptised December 2012 in Petersburg. It was outside in the church parking lot…in a crab tote. That rates as some sort of electorial qualification when we move back up to Alaska. And on the poop front I’d double qualify because not only have I used a bucket prepping for a colonoscopy while living in a cabin but I’ve had to clean outhouses & composting toilets that had reached critical mass. Heck, that might make me Presidential material!

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