Sullivan will attend Kodiak Chamber fisheries debate
Editor's Note: via Laine Welch on Friday morning: "Dan Sullivan is coming to the Kodiak fish debate after all. I confirmed it with Ben Sparks this morning. So it will be an hour of Begich/Sullivan, then an hour of Don Young and Forrest."
“Surprised and disappointed” was the reaction by Sen. Mark Begich upon learning that his opponent Dan Sullivan has bowed out of an Oct. 1 fisheries debate in Kodiak. It is the second time this year that Sullivan has declined to participate in the Chamber of Commerce event that has been an election year tradition since 1990.
“I can’t recall a time that a candidate has not participated in the Kodiak debate,” Begich said as he readied to head back to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 5. “It’s a must-do for statewide candidates. It’s not an option. It’s clear he doesn’t have the same Alaska values as we do when it comes to our fisheries, and I think he is doing an incredible disservice to Alaskans. But that is his MO. He avoids issues, only shows up at very controlled settings, and talks in bumper stickers and applause lines and that’s all he likes to do.”
Sullivan campaign manager Ben Sparks told debate organizers that Sullivan does not have a prior commitment keeping him from the fisheries debate, but that “he is just too busy with all the traveling he is doing.” The two-hour debate is broadcast live to over 330 Alaska communities.
“I think it’s a shame because Alaskans will miss out on a forum that focuses on the largest employer in the state,” Begich added. “Seafood is our biggest export by far and nearly 85 percent of all the fish caught in Alaska comes from waters that are under federal jurisdiction. If you can’t even have a debate, how do Alaskans know where he stands?”
Sullivan already has a reputation for shunning Alaska media and was criticized last week for avoiding a debate on Native rights issues in Juneau.
“The Alaska way is to debate fiercely, discuss, find solutions to challenges, and move forward. It is not to abandon, run, hide and not talk to people who might disagree with you,” Begich retorted. “You have to show up in order to work together. He is unwilling to talk about issues that are important to Alaska, and leaving thousands of Alaskans wondering where he stands.”
The fisheries debate will go on, said Trevor Brown, executive director of the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce.
“We have pre-sold lots of sponsorships and lined up all the radio stations. Senator Begich will be there, and hopefully, other third party U.S. Senate candidates. We also are talking about adding an hour for U.S. House candidates Don Young and Forrest Dunbar if both can make it,” Brown said.
History shows that since 1990, no candidate who has skipped the Kodiak fisheries debate has gone on to win their election. Case in point: Sean Parnell vs. Don Young in 2008.
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