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GOP’s U.S. Senate, House Hopefuls Try to Tie Democratic Foes to Obama, Reid et al.

Candidates for Alaska’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate squared off at a forum in Fairbanks Tuesday.On the Senate side, Republican Dan Sullivan relentlessly tried to tie incumbent Democrat Mark Begich to President Obama and majority leader Harry Reid.

“Under the Obama administration, where you’ve supported those policies 97 percent of the time, most of that has been about consolidating power in Washington, consolidating power with regard to D.C. bureaucrats,” Sullivan said. “And I think that Alaskans have a very different approach.”

Sullivan also reminded Begich that Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowksi took issue with a Begich political advertise suggesting she supported the Democrat. Begich responded saying he and Murkowski mostly vote the same way.

“Y’know, when you’ve have an 80 percent voting record together on every single item -- I’m for that,” Begich said. “That’s what we need more of in Washington, D.C. , than the partisan bickering that goes on, especially in this campaign, by my opponent, who only talks about Reid and Obama. This is about Alaska, and what’s important for Alaska.”

Candidates vying for the House seat talked about the problem of gridlock in Washington. Democrat Forrest Dunbar pointed to term limits as part of the solution, citing the connection between Washington D.C. K Street lobbying firms and Congress. 

“Right now, there’s a huge incentive for those staffers to go to K Street firms for million-dollar salaries, and then funnel money back to their former bosses on various committees,” Dunbar said. “We need to reform D.C., reform the system in D.C. And that will help change the partisan nature of our capitol.”

Incumbent Congressman Don Young, the longest serving Republican in the House, blamed the ineffectiveness of Congress on a structural shift.

“When I was chairman of both of my committees, the partisanship did not exist,” Young said. “We worked together. And then Nancy Pelosi created what we call the ‘brain trust’ in the Speaker’s office. The Speaker runs the Congress, regardless (whether) it’s a Democrat of Republican. And the chairmen have no real authority anymore. I want to get the chairmanship back to have the authority to run the Congress.”

Libertarian House candidate Jim McDermott maintained a third-party Representative is the best way to break up the zero sum game being played in Washington.

“The elite side of the Democrats and the Republicans are in a room,” McDermott said. “They’re in a room with a can of paint and a brush. They start at the door, there’s only one exit, and they paint themselves into a corner. So they don’t have any room to maneuver. They have to go one way or another, or I guess they get thrown out and annexed out of the party. Where in the Libertarian Party, we obviously are going to start painting towards the door. Which means we can give ourselves options.”

The House and Senate candidates also responded to questions on numerous other topics during the forum sponsored by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, ranging from resource development to health care and the federal deficit.

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.