Sen. Murkowski endorses Republican Mike Dunleavy for governor

Sen. Lisa Murkowski visited Bethel on Friday to update the region on her work in Washington D.C. and listen to constituents. (Photo by Krysti Shallenberger/KYUK)

Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski endorsed Mike Dunleavy in the battle for the governor’s seat during her visit to Bethel on Friday. Dunleavy, the Republican nominee, is running against Democrat Mark Begich and Libertarian Billy Toien.

Sen. Murkowski says that Dunleavy’s stance on Ballot Measure 1, a controversial salmon habitat ballot measure, was a big factor in her support. Murkowski doesn’t support the salmon initiative —and neither does Dunleavy.

“I have looked at the language of this initiative and as a former state legislator, and one who was responsible we get legislation and laws right, I’m very concerned that the ways this initiative is drafted.” Murkowski said. “It would bring about unintended consequences that will limit our opportunity and ability as individuals and communities to really move forward with even the most simple development project.”

The ballot initiative would toughen the permitting process for large industrial projects proposed in salmon habitat, among other things. This could impact major mining projects like the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay and the proposed Donlin gold mine in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Murkowski said that she supports the intent behind the ballot initiative. If the initiative doesn’t pass, she said she would urge the state Legislature to take up the issue of salmon habitat protection in the next session.

“So what I would like to do, what I want to see happen, is see this initiative rejected and our state legislature look specifically to these issues,” Murkowski said.

Alaskans will get to choose their next Governor and whether or not to pass the salmon habitat ballot initiative on Nov. 6.

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