Murkowski faces several rivals in debate on Arctic issues

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Wednesday, October 26, 2016 10:02pm
  • News

JUNEAU — Voters weighing who they will support for president should consider issues such as energy development and opportunities for developing Alaska’s resources, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a debate Wednesday.

The Alaska Republican said Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has espoused a philosophy that will hold back Alaska, the Arctic and the country.

Murkowski did not remark on her party’s nominee, Donald Trump, except to repeat that she cannot support him or Clinton.

The debate, focused mainly on Arctic issues and broadcast online, was held in Barrow, the northernmost U.S. city, at the edge of the Chukchi Sea. Residents of the largely Inupiat city recently voted to change Barrow’s name to Utqiagvik (oot-GHAR-vik).

The debate featured three of Murkowski’s rivals — Democrat Ray Metcalfe and independents Margaret Stock and Breck Craig. Libertarian Joe Miller and independent Ted Gianoutsos did not participate.

Stock, who has won backing from factions of the state Democratic party, has struggled to break through the crowded field. She said she doesn’t think Clinton would be a “disaster” for Alaska or the Arctic.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has been supportive of Alaska Native interests and concerns, Stock said.

Craig, who is supporting Clinton despite some “serious reservations,” said Trump would probably have little interest in the Arctic unless he could build a hotel there.

Stock sought to paint Murkowski as a career politician and part of an ineffective Congress. Stock and Metcalfe each said they would serve just two terms if elected.

Murkowski, who has served in the Senate since 2002, said some would argue that building up seniority is important for a state that has only a three-person congressional delegation. During this campaign, Murkowski has touted her seniority as an asset.

The candidates talked about the need for greater investments in the Arctic and helping to protect a subsistence way of life and communities in rural Alaska.

It was the third of four debates or forums in which Murkowski will participate. The last one, a public media debate, is scheduled for Nov. 3.

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