It might have been a good night in much of the rest of the country for President Obama. According to instant reactions, his State of the Union address was fairly well received. Even some Republicans considered it to be relatively benign, if not even a little bit uplifting. In the 49th state, however, Obama’s speech was not received well by Alaska’s senators and those who are running for Senate
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the State of the Union was “another missed opportunity to demonstrate leadership.” Democratic Sen. Mark Begich was even harsher on Obama, and used the opportunity to distance himself from the president. “I was disappointed I didn’t hear what Alaskans wanted from the President tonight,” Begich said. “Specifically, the President missed his chance to talk about national energy security in any meaningful way.”
Begich also criticized what some pundits say were implicit threats throughout the speech to invoke executive powers. (Other pundits are mystified that that was the takeaway of the night.)
“Alaskans can be sure that I will not sit back and watch any sort of power grab – especially from an Administration that has already demonstrated they do not understand core Alaska issues,” Begich said. (Although such criticism of the president probably doesn’t hurt Begich among his party in the upcoming race, not all Alaska Democrats share Begich’s view.)
Both GOP Senate candidates Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan didn’t miss the opportunity to use it for campaign purposes. Treadwell said that the speech made it very clear that “Alaska needs a Senator who will represent our values and will bring decision-making home.” Sullivan said that the speech reaffirmed that the “country requires a new direction, not another year of liberal policies defined by higher taxes, over-regulation and increased debt, which have been supported 93% of the time by Mark Begich.”
Read the statements in full below:
From U.S. Sen. Mark Begich:
I was disappointed I didn’t hear what Alaskans wanted from the President tonight. While the President delivered a lot of sound bites that may sound good in a speech, we need to hear a clear plan and commitment to economic growth. Specifically, the President missed his chance to talk about national energy security in any meaningful way.
Alaskans know that to ensure our national energy security, we must be more aggressive on natural resource development. From building the Keystone pipeline to offshore drilling in Alaska, we should be taking advantage of our domestic energy potential and I will keep fighting and using every committee post and option available to do just that. The President said he wants to focus on “fuels of the future” but we should be focusing on the fuels we can develop right now—and that’s Alaska oil and gas.
I also have concerns about some of the President’s comments to increase his executive power on issues where Congress should play a pivotal role. Alaskans can be sure that I will not sit back and watch any sort of power grab – especially from an Administration that has already demonstrated they do not understand core Alaska issues.
From U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski:
Tonight marks another missed opportunity to demonstrate leadership from this Administration. Millions of Americans tuned in to hear the President express a willingness to roll his sleeves up and work with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to really help move this nation forward – and I count myself among those hoping for an aspirational message.
But what did we hear? We heard ‘I don’t need Congress – I’ll work around them.
“Go It Alone” politics is not governing. It is not what the nation expects or deserves – and speeches like tonight are why the public’s faith in government is at a depressingly low rate. I worry that this “Go it Alone” attitude will only set our nation back, when we need to move forward. And we move forward on difficult issues best when we are all pulling in the same direction. It’s how our government is designed to work – and the President should not be able to simply decide that it’s too inconvenient for him or it takes too long. Ronald Reagan’s legacy reminds us that he didn’t dig in his heels against a Democratic Congress. Instead, he made the decision to pursue a goal-oriented approach – regardless of who got the credit or blame—and successfully passed comprehensive immigration and tax reform.
Tonight, President Obama said he wants 2014 to be a ‘Year of Action.’ If he wants to follow-through on that claim, we need to all be part of the conversation – not just have it be him telling Congress what he wants done. Let’s talk about jobs and work together to expand opportunities that create jobs. Let’s work on some of the bipartisan initiatives in the energy sector – which is truly the bright spot in our nation’s economy. We all want a ‘Year of Action’ but it’s going to take more than the President’s pen and phone. It will take true engagement with Congress.
Going it alone is not a solution and it’s counterproductive in government. Consensus-building is hard, but 100 percent do-able. Let’s get to work.
From Senate candidate Mead Treadwell:
The challenges facing the country and our state are not going to be solved by a speech, a fact that’s become very clear over the past five years. The a president talked about unilateral action. Too bad he doesn’t believe in the power of states to take action, or our pipeline would be getting fuller now. Alaska’s future is based on access to our lands. President Obama and Mark Begich have been at the helm as pipeline production decreases and access to the NPRA is cut in half. Washington needs to get out of Alaska’s way and tonight’s speech made it very clear that’s not the Democrats’ plan. He wants jobs. He wants to improve income equality. Let Alaska loose and our energy and resources will help power the nation. Alaska needs a Senator who will represent our values and will bring decision-making home.
From Senate candidate Dan Sullivan:
What the American people heard tonight was President Obama’s desire to double down on the same job-killing policies that have failed to grow our economy, and he has signaled that he will circumvent Congress through executive order to do it. Ignoring the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution through executive order is troubling and legally dubious. The President’s executive orders have had harmful impacts on Alaska already, such as when the Obama administration locked up close to half of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska from future development.
Our country requires a new direction, not another year of liberal policies defined by higher taxes, over-regulation and increased debt, which have been supported 93% of the time by Mark Begich. Together, their policies have continued to undermine Alaska’s and America’s full economic potential.
Alaska deserves a Senator in Washington that will defend the rule of law, fight back against President Obama’s liberal agenda, and promote pro-growth economic policies to get this country back on track.
Contact Amanda Coyne at email@example.com