Not surprisingly, GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller won a very unscientific exit poll conducted after Wednesday night’s U.S Senate debate sponsored by the Conservative Patriots Group and United for Liberty, two groups associated with the tea party and the libertarians, respectively. What is surprising is that Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who is also running in the Republican primary, came in second, in front of Libertarian candidate Mark Fish, who, if nothing else, proved that not all Libertarians are fringe thinkers.
Though Treadwell appeared to have the most volunteers there, the crowd that packed the Wilda Marston Theater in Anchorage was not Treadwell’s crowd. But he seemed to be getting points for showing up and answering the questions as best as he could. From the audience’s reaction, he also probably got points for hammering away on the fact that the supposed front-runner in the race, Dan Sullivan, wasn’t there.
Sullivan had a long-standing commitment in Fairbanks with a group of veterans. Democratic Sen .Mark Begich also wasn’t there. But he was only invited a week before, and his campaign immediately
locked down began working on locking down a date for a debate with the two groups in August.
The results were tallied by Mike Chambers, co-founder of United for Liberty. Chambers is also the chair of the Libertarian Party, which under his leadership appears to be experiencing a renaissance. Dave Cuddy moderated the debate. Cuddy is from the First National Bank of Alaska family. Along with Chambers, he co-founded United for Liberty, and he ran against Ted Stevens for Senate in 2008.
The questions came mostly from the audience, and ranged from support for 1) Law of the Sea Treaty, to 2) support for voter ID, to 3) amnesty for illegal aliens.
Treadwell’s answers: 1) Yes with modifications. 2) No. 3) Yes, under some circumstances.
Miller and Fish’s answers: 1) No. 2) Yes. 3) No.
Those were only some of the tricky questions for Treadwell, and have been since elected in 2010 for lieutenant governor. He claims to have been an active conservative in Alaska for 40 years. Most Alaskans know him, however, as a moderate Republican, and many have been surprised that he’s framed himself a tea party conservative.
Treadwell handled the questions well, though, and spoke with conviction. Conservative firebrand Eddie Burke, who ran against Treadwell in 2010, and who now works for the Veterans Administration, and who ironically enough now belongs to a union, said that Treadwell was “excellent.”
“By doing excellent it means that he did good,” Burke said. “When I walked in I thought Mead would have a tough night. But I was impressed by Mead’s ability to relate to the crowd.”
Cean Stevens, who’s running for state House in East Anchorage as a Libertarian also had good things to say about Treadwell. “I had never heard him speak before and I was very impressed,” she said.
Miller did win most of the applause lines of the night though. One of the most well received lines was when he differentiated himself from Treadwell.
“I genuinely like Mead Treadwell,” he said. “He’s a nice guy. He’s a nicer guy than I am. But I’m not going to vote for Mead because we don’t need nice guys in Washington D.C…Ted Cruz is not a go-along-get-along nice guy.”
But probably the real winner of the night was the two groups that put the event on. It was well attended, lively and well organized, all of which flies in the face of pre-conceived notions about third party groups and the tea party.
Below is what Chambers sent out on Thursday morning:
It was a weighted poll. Each card had the three candidates name and instructions to prioritize choices. 1st place was awarded 3 points. 2nd place was awarded 2 points and third place was awarded 1 point. Additionally, there were ballots that were marked with just one selection (nonconformists ) Each candidate checked received 3 points. The results were:
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