Senate candidates Treadwell and Sullivan meet on stage for first time in campaign

Following a forum on Monday featuring Senate candidates Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan, the Alaska Democrats put out a press release entitled, “GOP Campaign Heats Up As Candidates Attack Each Other In Contentious Primary.”

In fact, at the forum, the two mainstream Republican candidates agreed on most every issue that was raised. Both candidates promised to work to lessen federal involvement in Alaska’s business. Both are pro-life. Both believe in curtailing NSA’s surveillance powers. Both believe that the EPA went well beyond its authority when it released its Pebble Mine watershed assessment prior to mining companies applying for permits. Pebble Mine is on its last leg, and the EPA’s involvement has contributed to its imminent demise.

There appeared to be tension in the room only one time, when Treadwell referred to a project that he had worked on “before you were here” he said to Sullivan, in an attempt to jab him about his relatively short tenure in the state.

However, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich took the heavy punches.

Treadwell went so far as to accuse Begich of inviting the EPA to conduct the Pebble report. “He said he didn’t, but I don’t believe him,” Treadwell said. His spokesperson couldn’t back the statement up except to point out that Begich and the head of the EPA have traveled together.

The forum was sponsored by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Republican candidate Joe Miller couldn’t make it. It was the first time both Treadwell and Sullivan have shared a stage as candidates, and it served more as an introduction, particularly to Sullivan, who hasn’t yet run for office, than as a heated exchange of ideas.

Sullivan appears to be running on his military record and as a candidate who gets things done. As many readers of this blog know, he is a former Alaska attorney general and DNR commissioner. He’s also had a long career as an active duty and reservist Marine. About five years after moving to Alaska to practice law, he went back to D.C. in 2002 to work for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a fact that he mentions often and most likely won’t serve him well as he continues to get labeled as a D.C. insider.

He’d probably do better to put that in the background and highlight his Alaska successes.

As Alaska’s attorney general, he was one of the first AG’s in the country to sue over ObamaCare. And as DNR commissioner, he crisscrossed the world, touting Alaska’s natural resources. He also successfully negotiated with ExxonMobil to begin work on Pt. Thomson, the huge North Slope oil and gas field, something that has eluded others for decades.

Treadwell, Alaska’s lieutenant governor since 2010, highlighted his long ties to Alaska. He moved to the state in 1978 to work on Wally Hickel’s losing gubernatorial run. He returned in 1982 armed with a master’s from Harvard to work for Hickel’s company, Yukon Pacific which tried, but failed, to build a natural gas pipeline that would run from the North Slope to tidewater in Valdez. Hickel ran again for governor and won in 1990 and Treadwell served as his deputy commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Treadwell was appointed to Bush’s United States Arctic Research Commission, and became president of the commission. Among other things during his tenure, he supported the Law of the Sea Treaty, a fact that won’t likely serve him well with Tea Party activists, to whom such international treaties are anathema.

Throughout, Treadwell invested in a series of successful tech companies.

Vince Beltrami, head of Alaska’s AFL-CIO, said he didn’t see much difference in the two candidates as far as issues went. “They’re like peas in a pod,” he said, which was a sentiment shared by others in the room.

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