In a heated battle about issues facing Alaska, Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Begich and his Republican challenger Dan Sullivan met for their first general-election debate Wednesday evening.
The two candidates went head-to-head at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Wendy Williamson Auditorium. The group United for Liberty hosted the event.
A few hundred people gathered to watch as the candidates faced questions ranging from international issues to problems here at home.
The debate marked the first time Begich and Sullivan, the state’s former attorney general, have faced each other since the primary election. Their first question: how to best handle declines in fish and game populations, including king salmon.
“We need to make sure we're not limiting our opportunities -- and the federal government has done that with abuse of the Endangered Species Act,” Sullivan said. “And then making sure we have a partner in the federal government.”
“Bycatch is still a problem, but there’s several things you can do,” Begich said. “For example, my committee deals with fisheries and Coast Guard; we are now looking at electronic monitoring, more observers that need to be funded properly. We need to ensure that new technology and innovation is available to go after bycatch.”
The two candidates disagreed on health care and the Affordable Care Act, and whether it's helping or hurting Alaskans.
“Prior to this bill passing, 34 percent were denied health care,” Begich said. “Maybe you don't see those people -- I do.”
“There were many things within the bill,” Sullivan said. “If you understood it, you would understand the promises about keeping your health care plan, reducing premiums -- that couldn't be kept.”
Begich and Sullivan will face each other in the general election on Nov. 4.
Dan Sullivan will be Steve Mac Donald's guest on “Alaska's Political Pipeline” Sunday morning at 8 a.m.