A Sullivan mistake: Skipping the Kodiak debate

GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan has announced that he’s not going to attend the Senate fisheries debate in Kodiak in October. His spokesperson said that he’ll be planning on traveling in rural Alaska during that time. The last debate in Kodiak was pre-primary. Sullivan was scheduled for Marine reservist duty then and couldn’t attend.

Sullivan’s campaign said that 20 organizations have shown an interest in hosting debates, and if they accepted all of them, that’s all they would be doing.

“The Sullivan for Senate campaign is currently finalizing our debate schedule – which will include ample opportunities for Dan and Mark to debate the many issues facing Alaska and the country,” Sullivan spokesperson Mike Anderson said.

That’s all probably true, except that this is a particularly important issue. The fishing industry is Alaska’s largest private-sector employer and fish are the state’s main export product. Imagine a Senate candidate from Iowa, say, skipping a debate on corn.

Fish politics in Alaska are thorny and complex, and it appears that the commercial fisheries are already supporting Sen. Mark Begich, who got the endorsement of the mammoth United Fisherman of Alaska, the largest statewide commercial fishing industry trade association. He also recently received the endorsement of the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association which represents seafood harvesters across the state.

Regardless, if Sullivan is going to be Alaska’s senator, it’s imperative that he proves to the state that he’s willing to show up and get to know the issues. Begich did it when he was running against Stevens. He was all over this state and rarely missed an opportunity to speak to groups.

“I can’t recall a time that a candidate has not participated in the Kodiak debate,” Begich said in a press release as he readied to head back to Washington, D.C., on Friday, skipping a Juneau Chamber of Commerce debate, it should be noted.

Begich continued, and got nasty about it:

It’s a must-do for statewide candidates. It’s not an option. It’s clear he doesn’t have the same Alaska values as we do when it comes to our fisheries, and I think he is doing an incredible disservice to Alaskans. But that is his MO. He avoids issues, only shows up at very controlled settings, and talks in bumper stickers and applause lines, and that’s all he likes to do.

Sullivan, who hasn’t made many glaring mistakes so far, opened himself up to that one.  I’m betting that it won’t be the last time we hear about it.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


9 thoughts on “A Sullivan mistake: Skipping the Kodiak debate

  1. Samuel Abney

    When are people going to figure out what a climbing opportunist Sullivan is? He has no more care for Alaska than he does Maryland, his state of residency. Fishing is a massive industry here. There needs to be a comprehensive debate held about it? Why not Kodiak? He can spend the Koch brothers’ money in the bush some other time.

    The fact is he doesn’t want to show his true colors on the matter and hang himself.

    Say what you will about Begich, but working for Alaska is in his blood and he’s proven it his whole life long. He understands the fishing industry and has a track record of delivering for it.

  2. grabber

    At Anon.
    Fisheries at the federal level is huge. Begich has made a commitment to the fishing industry, and will be supported for that. The commercial fishing industry needs advocates on the hill. Mark will be that for us. Sullivan is ignoring us. And he will be ignored in return.

  3. Glen Biegel

    Yakutat. HB77 was a law written in response to Greenpeace reserving (by permit request) ALL the water in the coleville river. This was to Stop the CD5 and Greater Mooses Tooth developments. It had nothing at all to do with hunting and fishing and will be needed in some form to combat the actions of environmentalists using our public processes against us.

  4. Alaskandude

    Skipping the debate says a lot about Sullivan’s knowledge of Alaska. By skipping the debate, he shows his disdain for people who depend on fisheries for their lively hood. Showing up and making a few mistakes and learning about such an important part of the economy would look better, than simply skipping it.

  5. Anonymous

    Skipping the debate was dumb. However, you have to ask yourself which is worse: electing a first time candidate who bumbles occasionally but would probably do an okay job? (and not have a lot of impact over fisheries anyway at the federal level) Or Begich, who is pretty much guaranteed to tell any lie you want to hear to get your vote and then do whatever is best for him in the long run no matter what?

  6. Mae

    L48 Dan is evasive about the issues.
    And he is avoiding a fishing town.
    Considering his anti-fishing stand and anti Alaskan voice with our natural resources.

  7. Don

    This was first reported in the Dispatch by a reporter named Welch. It too was critical of Sullivan, albeit it was an almost verbatim copy of Brgich’s press release. Crappy journalism as seems to be more and more what you get from the Dispatch.

  8. Yakutat Republican

    Dan Sullivan has pushed me away from supporting him because of his arrogance and lack of interest in the state’s fisheries. His support of HB 77 also concerns me. This will be the first time in my life that I will have voted for a Democrat for the United States Senate. It makes me sick.

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