Candidates for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat sparred over fish, energy and partisan politics at Wednesday’s Debate for the State.
During the hour-long debate, incumbent Rep. Mary Peltola — a Democrat who is filling out the remainder of the late Don Young’s term — highlighted work she is already doing in office. That includes a bill aimed at addressing food insecurity among veterans, which passed with significant bipartisan support.
Peltola called partisan division the “number one threat to our country.”
“I think that we have a tradition now in America of tearing one another down just to get into office,” she said. “We need more peacemakers. So that the day after the election, half the country doesn’t feel like they lost. We are all going to win. We’re all in this together.”
Libertarian Chris Bye’s answers reflected a preference for small government and localizing control of Alaska’s resources. He said both major parties have left Alaskans behind.
And while Republican Nick Begich III said he’d support any legislation that benefits Alaskans, he drew a stark line between his party and Democrats.
“Republicans want to give you more freedom, they will put more money in your pocket,” he said. “Democrats want to take freedom from you. They want to centralize government, they want to tax you more. And Mary Peltola has been a part of that.”
Fellow Republican Sarah Palin avoided criticizing Peltola during the debate. Instead, she took shots at Begich and the Biden administration, while also saying she has the skills to work across the aisle.
“Alaskans deserve to have a representative willing to stand on common ground, but also not willing to compromise but to fight for what’s right,” she said.
Palin and Begich both criticized the Biden administration for what they called “manufacturing” an energy crisis with a conservative approach to Arctic drilling. Palin also blamed a lack of federal oversight for a decline in Western Alaska salmon stocks, while Peltola said she would work for research funding to study bycatch.
Alaska Public Media, KTOO and Alaska’s News Source produced the debate, which aired statewide on television and radio.