U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks to the Alaska State Legislature in February. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

Opinion: I’m a longtime Democrat ready to support a Republican senator

She is willing to act in the interest of the country rather than marching lockstep with her party.

  • By Rodger Painter
  • Tuesday, March 8, 2022 10:51am
  • Opinion

By Rodger Painter

I’ve been a Democrat since as a 22-year-old I went door-to-door in Sitka to support the reelection of Sen. Ernest Gruening. This year, I’m supporting Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

A primary reason for my decision is that the Congress really needs someone who’s willing to reach across the aisle. For the past two decades Republicans and Democrats have been purging Congress of moderates, helping to create the deep divisions dominating national politics.

Murkowski has demonstrated time and time again her willingness to work for bipartisan compromises. Murkowski is one of a small number of senators who recognize the threat of global warming. She has a willingness to act in the interest of the country rather marching in lockstep with her party.

The benefits for Alaska from her bipartisanship can be seen in the massive amount of funds the state is receiving from the infrastructure bill Congress recently passed.

I first noticed Lisa when as a member of the state house she shepherded a bill through the legislature to raise the tax on liquor. Half of the total revenue from the alcohol tax is designated for alcohol and drug abuse treatment and support.

I have been active in seafood politics since the mid-1970s and can attest to Sen. Murkowski’s strong support for the industry. I played a key role in creating the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and I spent decades serving as a member of the board of directors and committees. Lisa is a strong supporter of ASMI.

She has an interest in helping all sectors of Alaska’s seafood industry no matter how small. I was president of the Alaskan Shellfish Growers Association for about 20 years. Despite our small numbers, Murkowski attended our annual meetings several times.

Lately she has gained support for her long-standing effort to block the Russians from selling their seafood in the U.S. in response to a ban on U.S. seafood sales in Russia.

As an Alaska Native descendant, I greatly appreciate Murkowski’s strong support for the Native community and rural Alaska.

• Rodger Painter is a longtime Democrat and former president of the Alaskan Shellfish Growers Association. Painter resides in Juneau. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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