Republicans a no-show at first statewide candidate forum

The first statewide candidate forum of the year was last night. Three people running for lieutenant governor answered questions posed by KTVA reporter Rhonda McBride at the YWCA in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday night. Two Democrats — Alaska state Sen. Hollis French, Palmer math teacher Bob Williams, and independent Craig Fleener — fielded questions from McBride, a seasoned reporter, about education, tribal rights, federal regulations, natural resources, health and public safety, just to a name a few.

One of the two Democrats will be running with Byron Mallott in the general election. Fleener, who will skip the primary process, will be running with independent candidate Bill Walker.

The two Republican candidates, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire didn’t show up for the forum. At the time the event was announced, Sullivan said that he had a personal engagement that evening. McGuire called in sick at the last minute. It was too bad. McGuire, who is a moderate Republican, shines no more brightly than when she’s speaking extemporaneously in front of a crowd.

French said that neither of the Republican showed because they wouldn’t be able to defend Gov. Sean Parnell’s record. Namely his decision not to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, which would insure up to 40,000 Alaskans on the federal dime. Then there was the issue about new regulations on Medicaid-funded abortions which made news earlier that day. The issue was only alluded to at the forum. Had McGuire showed, however, she would likely have been asked about it.

Throughout the night, Williams and French generally held the Democratic line. Fleener, a Gwich’in Athabascan from the Interior, and former Marine and currently a major in the Alaska Air National Guard, as well as the state’s former deputy commissioner of Fish and Game, displayed more of an independent streak. He’s more inclined to talk about giving parents more choice over education options, had stronger words for federal government encroachment, and mentioned, more than once, that as an independent, he’s “free from party and political corruption.”

When asked to give Gov. Sean Parnell a letter grade for the job he’s doing so far, French gave him a “D,” Fleener a “C-“ and Williams an “F.”

Williams, an up-and-comer to watch in the Democratic Party, called Parnell a “wimp,” which stands for “wildly inaccurate, misleading, and partisan.”

It doesn’t exactly work as an acrostic, but it was the line of the night, the delivery was spot on, and if nothing else, last night showed that Williams is a politician to watch.

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5 thoughts on “Republicans a no-show at first statewide candidate forum

  1. Anonymous

    ..the more of these public forums that there are the better. They will form the key debate points and issues that are paramount, if enough of them are held. many times they are not held for “lack of interest” because of a oil party candidate who is a :shoe-in”. If republican candidates have nothing to offer the CURRENT debates over issues we face constructively, other than saying “cut cut” (while giving away two billion a year for nothing,..) well I can understand why they are not showing. To watch adults blather sound bites and criticisms.. it`s getting real old. Talk was is and always will be cheaper than achieving results. The candidates who showed up here and spoke their minds want results for Alaskans. Not blather.

  2. Wyatt Derp

    Is Lesil McGuire going to play the my husband was put in jail for corruption but I knew nothing about it canard all the way to the Lt. Gov. office?

  3. Lynn Willis

    Republican candidates can ill afford to dodge any public forum. The Republicans totally control the game this upcoming legislative session They own the House, the Senate and the Office of the Governor. Before they ensconce themselves in far away Juneau they might want to remember that a majority of Alaskans have been wise enough to refuse to register to vote as a member of any political party.

    Alaska is now in deficit spending and the big party paid for by oil is coming to an end. Republicans had better tackle the big issues such as spending, revenue sources, transportation corridors, energy for Alaskans, education, and encouraging the creation of local economies to fund local governments; however, these issues do not seem to be the priority of Governor Sean Parnell and the dinosaurs like him who “grew up” in a state government awash in oil cash.

    Now only fairness to all Alaskans guided by honest leadership in an open government guided by fiscal discipline are important. Alaskans should be looking for meaningful results and solutions not excuses or the wasting of time and effort on social issues (but don’t hold your breath).

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