From left, onstage on Wednesday in Anchorage for a debate in Alaska’s U.S. House race: former Gov. Sarah Palin, Rep. Mary Peltola, Nick Begich III and Chris Bye. (Mark Thiessen / Associated Press)

From left, onstage on Wednesday in Anchorage for a debate in Alaska’s U.S. House race: former Gov. Sarah Palin, Rep. Mary Peltola, Nick Begich III and Chris Bye. (Mark Thiessen / Associated Press)

Here’s what was said during the House debate — guess who said it

Democratic incumbent, two Republicans and a Libertarian often overlap in statewide TV forum

Two Republicans, a Libertarian and a Democrat positioning herself toward the center of her party’s big tent walk into a debate. In the quips that followed, a lot of their answers to questions could be perceived as remarkably similar.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola is getting global notoriety for being “pro-fish,” for example, but none of her opponents are proclaiming themselves “anti-fish.” Libertarian Chris Bye naturally opposes mandatory vaccinations, but perhaps surprisingly so do his opponents despite certain shots being required for many decades. Republicans Nick Begich III and Sarah Palin both support bolstering energy production in Alaska to fight inflation, but the other two candidates say they also support convincing the current Democratic president to support such activity.

The U.S. House candidates responded to a series of questions during the only statewide televised debate of the campaign Wednesday night, getting between 15 to 60 seconds for their answers. Below are some of the questions asked and their responses aside from their specific naming of other candidates — and with the candidate speaking referred to only by a letter than changes with each question.

The “answer key” identifying which candidate offered which response to each question is at the end of the article.

[Begich bashes Young’s staff]

Question 1: Inflation is running at a 40-year high and gas prices are about $5 a gallon in Alaska. Some areas of the state are seeing prices nearly double that. What would you do to address this issue?

Candidate A: “Energy costs are the driver of inflation. Energy costs which affect absolutely everything we do in America and everything we consume. Oil and gas, it touches that. So if we more supply of oil, our oil, clean domestic USA oil, coming from Alaska ideally, instead of hat-in-hand asking foreign countries to pump and produce for us their dirty dangerous oil.”

Candidate B: “I do believe that getting our energy prices under control are a huge piece of this puzzle. I’ve already been working on moving forward the Willow project, I’ve had conversations with the administration and I look forward to that happening. I think we need to do more in America on the semiconductor microchips. They’re a part of every single piece of machinery that we use. There are hundreds in automobiles and we’re seeing that cars are 30% more expensive. I also see that a huge piece of this is supply chain logistics.”

Candidate C: “If you’re going to fix the problem you have to understand the root cause of the problem. And the root cause of inflation today is government spending financed by a Federal Reserve that’s built a $9 trillion balance sheet. If you want to get inflation under control we have to start producing again and we need to make sure government spending is under control, the government’s put back in its lane, and the private sector is not vilified as it has been under Democrats and the Biden administration.”

Candidate D: “In Fairbanks they’re paying $4.39 a gallon for heating oil and, oh by the way, the EPA came in and said they cant use wood to heat their homes. It has to be kiln-dried wood, not just wood off the forest. So families in Fairbanks are squeezed between federal bureaucracy and federal regulations. It’s true the dysfunctional energy policy this administration has brought upon us is a prime factor for inflation. I would also say Thomas Sowell has clearly identified government spending and government money as a prime driver for this.”

Question 2: How salmon is allocated is hotly debated in Alaska. How would you make sure this vital resource is maintained for generations to come for all Alaskans?

Candidate A: “I think it’s important to understand we had a record year in Bristol Bay this year. So when we see these dramatically declining runs in areas of our state we see other areas that are succeeding very well. So we need to look at those areas of our state that are succeeding and draw some lessons from that. I think trawl bycatch is a big issue and I think that needs to be addressed immediately. I think we need to be careful how we go through our Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization and we need to put precision language into the Act that is going to demonstratively improve the sustainability of these fisheries.”

Candidate B: “I think that we have to urge our managers at both the state and federal level to really invest. And I want to be part of making sure we do adequate research and surveys so we can see what’s going on, but we can’t just wait. We have to take precautionary management, we can’t allow metric tons of bycatch of juvenile salmon, crab and halibut to be thrown overboard every year. This has led to a very devastating collapse not only of salmon, but of halibut and we’re seeing it in the crab industry as well. We’ve got to get a hold on our bycatch and as well as find out the reasons we’re having such low productivity in the Bering Sea right now.”

Candidate C: “I agree with (another candidate) about the bycatch, but just throwing it back doesn’t solve the problem. We need to actually get industry more involved in reducing their catch. Otherwise it’s not going to be there. It’s only a renewable resources until it’s all gone. And I think just like what (another candidate) said about the Magnuson-Stevens Act (another candidate) has decided we’re going to use race for the seats allocated on the council. I would say it needs to be done by region so that it prioritizes all Alaskans for salmon renewals.”

Candidate D: “Our state is doing a good job, Fish and Game, and we do maximize our resources. This is a renewable resource, the fisheries are, we manage it for sustained yield in perpetuity. It’s the feds who lack the enforcement, the bycatch laws that too many people get away with, especially the foreign trawlers. They’re not allowing those salmon to get back to where they need to spawn. We need to bust these people that are doing these illegal activities. You take their vessel, you take their gear, you take their permits and you start teaching them a lesson.”

Question 3: The pandemic greatly divided our country. What can we do to prepare for the next health crisis?

Candidate A: “We spent a lot of money on research and this thing still crept up on us because there was no accountability within the Department of Health and Human Services, or at the NIH. It’s pretty evident at this moment that there was DNA research being done and nobody did anything about it because politicians, both Democrats and Republicans hide behind the bureaucracy. They’re not in the business of fixing it, they’re in the business of hiding behind it because they need it for their next reelection. I trust Alaskans over bureaucrats every time. I would say that CDC and other councils are an advisory role. They are not elected officials and so they should not be making rules.”

Candidate B: “I think its critically important we realize that what was done during this pandemic was not science, but political science. We saw politicians dig in their heels, and policymakers in unelected positions at the CDC and elsewhere deciding how you and I were going to live. This is not good. We’ve ceded too much authority to the government, whether that be vaccine mandates that are required to get a job or keep a job. I’ve been opposed to that from the very beginning and we need to trust the people, we need to trust at the local level and we need to make sure were not shutting down aspects of the economy. Thousands of businesses were shut down because of government.”

Candidate C: “In case another one is coming we make sure Fauci is not head of CDC. We depoliticize that agency that did play politics. The whole Covid crisis, it was more about control than a virus, and we saw that, those of us who spoke up and stood up and said ’no, I’m not going to get that experimental immunization. And we were mocked and ostracized and we lost opportunities. And we were right, it was experimental. And those who lost opportunities, those in the military who were kicked out for exercising their own rights and responsibilities for deciding what they were going to put in their body, they need to be reinstated with back pay.”

Candidate D: “I do believe that Covid was and is a health pandemic, and I do believe that we are subject to pandemics now. I think that one of the critical issues in this debate — and it’s disappointing that it is a debate — is the fact that across America people can go on television and radio and print media and online and tell lies, and there are no repercussions. I think that being able to broadcast lies has really caused a lot of division on things that should be an open and shut case, like whether we have a pandemic, and I think that it really does add to the level of partisanship that we are seeing in our nation.”

Question 4: The Jan. 6 Committee voted unanimously to subpoena former President Donald Trump. Did they make the right decision and do you believe that Trump committed any crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol?

Candidate A: “Trump’s not on the ballot. The four of us are. That’s who’s on the ballot. And the media and a political party are dragging this out, and pretty much all of Alaskans realizes this. If there were stolen documents or secret documents, and if they were taken to a bathroom server or wherever the heck he had them, then yeah, go get the guy because laws were broken. But for just about every other Alaskan they’re concerned about energy. They’re concerned about heating oil. They’re concerned about salmon. They’re not really concerned about a media/party kumbaya fest. I think the more we talk it the most we elevate it and the worse it gets.”

Candidate B: “Knowing President Trump as I do he’s probably saying ’bring it on, subpoena away’ because he has nothing to hide. And, no, I do not believe he committed a crime. I believe the media and those who are obstructionists to so much of what Trump represents, I believe they want to just keep hanging onto this thing and stirring it up. They’ve got to stir up something because it can’t be his policies that they slam and they are against. Look what his policies did for this country. We didn’t have this inflation. We didn’t have these two million illegal aliens crossing the border with the fentanyl and all the problems they’re bringing. We didn’t have so many of the problems we face today. So what are they going to do to disparage him and people like me who are his supporters? They’re going to make it up.”

Candidate C: “I’m going to not make that judgement call right now. I’m going to be watching to see what the committee decides. Congress members to get to the House floor now, they have to wear metal detectors. They can’t even trust each other to come to the floor unarmed. That is a terrible position to be in. When constituents come to D.C. they have to be met outside congressional office buildings and brought through by staff. This is not the kind of access we need to our elected representatives. And I do believe crimes were committed on Jan. 6. People died.”

Candidate D: “It is within the authority of Congress to subpoena an individual, including a past president, and it is within their legal authority to do that. Whether this Jan 6 commission is really just a political witch hunt or a well-intentioned commission, I think that’s up for some debate as well. The Democrats have wanted to hang onto Jan. 6, but they’ve ignored the fundamental problems of this country,. “They’ve ignored the fundamental problems of working families, Inflation is the issue that they don’t want want to talk about because it’s a losing issue for them. And when you look at the Democrat policies across the country and how they wreaked havoc on working families you know why.”

Question 5: What do you read for leisure?

Candidate A: “I don’t have a ton of time right now to do a lot of leisure reading. A lot of the reading I do is also related to work. The last report I read was the Kuskokwim River situation report and various pieces of legislation.”

Candidate B: “I read a lot of fishing books and a lot of fishing magazines and a whole host of sci-fi.”

Candidate C: “For the last year, I’ve been working every single day of this campaign. I don’t think I’ve had a day off. But when I do get a few minutes sometimes I’ll jump online and read financial news. Believe it or not that’s leisure reading for me right now and trying to keep track of what’s going on in the economy is almost a full-time time job in itself.”

Candidate D: “I don’t do a lot of leisure. I run, I exercise — that’s my sanity, the sweat. I don’t do a whole lot of just sitting around reading. My reading is mostly for work, it’s for politics, it’s to serve others.”

Answers

— Question 1 (inflation): A-Palin, B-Peltola, C-Begich, D-Bye

— Question 2 (salmon): A-Begich, B-Peltola, C-Bye, D-Palin

— Question 3 (pandemic): A-Bye, B-Begich, C-Palin, D-Peltola

— Question 4 (Jan. 6): A-Bye, B-Palin, C-Peltola, D-Begich

— Question 5 (reading): A-Peltola, B-Bye, C-Begich, D-Palin

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

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