By MURRAY R. WALSH
The finalists seeking to take the late Rep. Don Young’s seat in Congress met in person at the Juneau Radio Center on Monday to participate in a forum moderated by news reporters Kevin Allen and Greg Knight.
This was a first-of-its-kind event sponsored by the Juneau and Sitka Chambers of Commerce and the Southeast Conference. The broadcast was heard in Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau.
The three were given two minutes each to introduce themselves. Nick Begich gave his standard pitch emphasizing his business background, hinting that Congress had too many professional politicians and needed more people like him.
Sarah Palin gushed over being back in Southeast Alaska but then emphasized her “connections” across the USA as being valuable for someone in Congress. Mary Peltola, apparently indifferent to Begich’ low regard for professional politicians, gave a long recitation of her political history.
Watch the event at this link:
The first question was “what is the biggest problem in Alaska right now?”
Palin started off with “inflation” and used it as a springboard for encouraging expansion of resource development in the state, a theme she would repeat several times as the 70-minute program went on.
Begich took a broader approach saying the problem was dependence on the federal government and the fed’s interference with resource development and Alaska’s need to broaden the economy.
Peltola also went with “inflation” as well but said the solution was to punish corporations for price gouging, and raise the minimum wage. She also expressed hope that the pending federal Inflation Reduction Act (Manchin, Schumer et. al.) would help a lot.
The next question was: “If you do not win this special election, will you stand for the regular election and try again?” Both Begich and Peltola answered “yes” but Palin may not have understood the question because she went on to chastise ranked choice voting at length.
Palin answered the “What makes you the most qualified?” question by mentioning her “connections across the nation and around the world” as a valuable quality. This might be a reaction to former Sen. John Coghill’s criticism that Palin’s fame could be a problem for her if elected. The other two repeated their histories from the opening.
Both Begich and Palin agreed that ranked choice voting was bad and should be disposed as soon as possible. Peltola said she is “hopeful” that it will turn out well and she defined “well” as the election of moderate candidates.
Most of the remaining questions were generic and there were no surprises – let alone any laughs – from any of the contenders. There was a Southeast-specific question about repealing the Roadless Rule (plaything of anti-timber industry groups) and both Begich and Palin called for repealing it. Peltola did not answer the question.
Early voting started Monday in the regular Aug. 16 primary election and the special general election for Congress. The three candidates appearing in the forum are on both sides of the ballot. The special general election will determine who fills out the remainder of Congressman Don Young’s term, and that person will become the incumbent as the race heads to the Nov. 8 general election.
Walsh is a Juneau-based consultant who hosted a talk radio show on KJNO, the talk radio sister station to KINY from June of 2009 to June of 2012. His listeners were the first people in Juneau to hear about Sarah Palin’s resignation which occurred while he was on the air.