A forum held on Oct. 11 hosted by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce showcased three of the Alaskan candidates for Senate: Joe Miller, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams.
In an afternoon that consisted largely of the candidates’ major talking points, there were glimmers of the candidates’ ideologies and style.
Murkowski skillfully repeated each question in her answer to either buy time or to cement the answer in the minds of the audience. She also drew laughs from the audience on several occasions, once after being asked which Senator she most admired.
After a moment of pause, Murkowski responded: “Ugh.”
Beyond her style, Murkowski had one clear message for the audience. She highlighted her history of working across the aisle, saying that she plans to continue doing so if re-elected.
“I have taken a somewhat unprecedented step as advancing myself as not necessarily a Republican,” Murkowski said, quickly adding that she was still a Republican.
Murkowski was not the only one to highlight her political bipartisanship. McAdams touted his bipartisan abilities while also displaying his wit.
“You know when I was President of the state School Board Association, I didn’t represent liberal kids,” McAdams joked as part of an explanation of his plan to put Alaska before his personal ideology.
McAdams also had a penchant for extended metaphors, evident once a comparison of Alaska’s natural resources to an empty house on the market that requires a new agent. He also threw in a metaphor when highlighting one of his life goals.
“My goal throughout the course of my life time is to see the day when forever gone is Alaska the colony.” McAdams said. “People from the outside come in, extract our resources, take the best bite of our apple, and move their resources and money off shore.”
Miller also took to a metaphor, repeating one in particular several times throughout the forum.
“Alaskans have to understand that we have to diversify and ensure all the eggs are not in the federal basket,” Miller said.
Often referring to himself in third person, Miller’s tone was serious and he made no jokes. He did receive loud applause after he was the only candidate who specifically mentioned leaving Afghanistan.
““The priority has got to be eliminating the threat and then getting out,” Miller said, referring to his own service during Desert Storm as an example.
The candidates also took time to criticize each other.
During a round in which the candidates were able to ask questions of each other, McAdams criticized Murkowski for voting against appropriations for Alaska. Murkowski defended the charge, stating she was working to reduce spending to the previous year’s levels.
“I think most of us in this room would agree that when your budget is out of whack in your family or your business, you look to what you did last year,” Murkowski said. “And you try to do a little bit better this year.”
Immediately afterward, Miller questioned Murkowski’s vote for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, and he also accused her of being invested in some of the banks it bailed out, an allegation she largely refuted.
The candidates did not limit their critiques of each other to the candidate question round.
After being asked about his own level of experience governing, McAdams compared himself to Murkowski and her father, saying he had more experience than either Murkowski had the first time they ran for office.
McAdams also pointed to the Citizens Against Government Waste contract Miller signed that called for no appropriations outside of the President’s budget.
Miller focused his attacks primarily on Murkowski, at one point saying the national debt was half of its current amount when she initially took office. He also repeated the sentiment in his newest campaign commercial.
“You can’t vote old system and expect new things to happen, because they won’t,” Miller said.
For her part, Murkowski said that the intense pressures we face as a nation meant there is no time for on-the-job training. In her closing statement, she also delivered the line “Anger is not a platform,” to the crowd.
There was room for consensus, however, on issues such as foreign policy, healthcare and the national debt. The candidates were also unanimous in their support for the military, both as a commitment to troops and veterans and also as a source of federal funding.
The forum was followed by numerous interviews from local and national media sources, which highlight the importance of this race. Early voting begins Oct. 18 at the downtown elections office. Voting will begin at the UAA student union on Monday, Nov. 3 and continue until 8 p.m. on election day, Nov. 4.