U.S. Senate Candidate Daniel Sullivan Grilled Over Fishy Stance on Alaskan Salmon Conservation
As the fight over control of the U.S. Senate heats up between Democrats and Republicans across the country, Alaskan voters are putting some tough questions to their candidates.
Republican candidate Daniel Sullivan and Democratic Senator Mark Begich met in Kodiak, AK at the beginning of the month to address growing concerns that the Last Frontier’s fishing industry, estimated to support 78,500 jobs and generate $5.8 billion in annual revenues, would soon be put in jeopardy in order to make Alaska more attractive for business investors.Fishermen, fishmongers, and recreational fishing services have become increasingly concerned lately, as a growing number of mining operations have moved into the state, something which many believe threatens already struggling aquatic populations, that of king salmon in particular. Pebble Mine, a proposed precious metals mining operation and refinery, has served as something of a rallying cry for Alaska’s fishing professionals, as many claim its location in one of Alaska’s most important fishing regions would threaten the environment and the Alaskan fishing industry as a whole.
Pebble Mine and other proposed operations like it have been so divisive that a new bill, Ballot Measure 4, has been put before the Alaska state legislature. If passed, the bill would require any such mining operations to gain legislative approval before they can get underway. It’s a bill that has galvanized those in the fishing industry, while simultaneously drawing the ire of free business supporters on the political right.
Voters Question Sullivan’s Stance on Ballot Measure 4, Understanding of Alaska’s Fishing Industry
The tension over the perceived threat to Alaskan fishing came to a head in Kodiak as the senatorial candidates began fielding questions about their stance on mining and fishing. Republican candidate Sullivan seemed to receive harsher treatment
than his Democratic counterpart, due mostly to voter belief that he may lack an understanding of fishing’s crucial role in the Alaskan economy and that he is sympathetic to the plight of mining entities looking to set up shop in the Last Frontier.Sullivan did himself few favors when he proposed that Pebble Mine be allowed to go through the permit procedures and get started as planned. Democrat Mark Begich seemed to echo the sentiments of the majority when he stated firmly that Pebble Mine was the “wrong mine in the wrong place,” eliciting cheers from the crowd. Whether history will see this as the moment that made or broke Sullivan’s shot at the Senate will be decided at the polls this November.
Do you think this issue will be a deciding factor as Republicans aim to take over the Senate this November? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.