No Joe Miller this time, but three challengers for Murkowski

From left to right, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Lochner, Thomas Lamb and Paul Kendall are the four Republican candidates in this Tuesday's (Aug. 16, 2016) U.S. Senate primary.

From left to right, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Lochner, Thomas Lamb and Paul Kendall are the four Republican candidates in this Tuesday's (Aug. 16, 2016) U.S. Senate primary.

Editor’s Note: Alaska’s state primary elections are Tuesday, and except for the incumbents, most of the names on the ballot probably aren’t familiar to most Alaskans.

In these last days before the primary, the Empire has been introducing you to the men and women appearing on the ballot. This is the last of six stories devoted to the topic. Look online at to find the stories that have already run.


Six years ago, Lisa Murkowski lost the Republican primary to Joe Miller but kept her seat with a nearly unprecedented write-in campaign during the general election. This time around, Murkowski has amassed a multimillion-dollar campaign chest to fight challenges from three relative unknowns.

Paul Kendall, Thomas Lamb and Bob Lochner each believe Alaska needs new energy, both literally and figuratively. The winner of Tuesday’s election will face independent Margaret Stock, Libertarian Cean Stevens, and the winner of the Democratic primary.


Kendall’s dark horse

Paul Kendall of Anchorage declined to be interviewed for this profile. Since announcing his candidacy, he’s declined all interviews, in fact. Approached by Alaska Public Radio Network, he said he would need three hours to explain the details of his energy plan.

While he declined to comment for this story, Kendall said he would submit a letter to the editor explaining his candidacy. At the end of the business day Friday, that letter had not yet arrived.

Kendall previously ran for the Alaska Senate in 2012, losing to Johnny Ellis. He also mounted an unsuccessful run for Anchorage mayor in 2009. After his loss, he wrote Anchorage Assembly member Patrick Flynn an anti-gay letter entitled “Acceptable speach in Homosexual, Queers, Fagots, Deviants” that was republished in the Anchorage Press.

On his website, which contains scattered thoughts and points of reflection, he says Murkowski (whom he calls Murkowsky) needs to “give it up” and “CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG needs to let go; Its time for the younger ones TO TAKE THE POINT.”


On foreign policy, Lamb a lion

Unlike any of the other candidates challenging incumbents in Tuesday’s election, Thomas Lamb of Anchorage leads off his campaign speech with talk about foreign policy.

“Everything is intertwined,” he said, explaining why.

Instability in the Middle East affects oil prices, which affects Alaska’s economy. Alaska’s economy depends on the exportation of natural resources, and most of the markets for those natural resources are international.

Lamb is an Air Force veteran and worked as a weather forecaster. He has repeatedly run for office and says that even though he didn’t win those elections, his statements have come true.

In 1998, for example, he spoke out against a proposed amendment to the Alaska Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

“I said it would be declared unconstitutional,” he said.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

He said he previously predicted that Russia would invade the Ukraine and that Turkey would erupt into civil war.

“My positions back then were right on target,” he said, but “because I was running against big-name candidates, that message wasn’t being heard.”

Lamb said he supports the diversification of Alaska’s economy through the establishment of regional economic zones to boost specific industries in different parts of the state.

He supports the exportation of liquefied natural gas from Alaska, but with a unique twist — he wants to see submarine tankers take gas to Europe through the Arctic Ocean.

“All you have to do is just take the subs … and go up to the European market under the ice,” he said, supporting the conversion of aging U.S. Navy submarines to accomplish this.

Domestically, he said Alaska may have ample geothermal power possibilities through offshore drilling into or near volcanoes.

He knows his ideas are “out of the box,” but “I find that if I talk with logic, and that if you talk from the heart on things, people will listen to you.”


Locher backs ‘Christian values’

Bob Lochner of Wasilla says he’s worried that the United States has gone too far from its two founding documents.

“We need to get back to what this country was founded on: the Bible and the Constitution,” he said by phone. “I’ll support our Christian values.”

Locher, who works on the North Slope and has lived in Alaska for 42 years, said he feels as if Lisa Murkowski has gotten out of touch.

“I just emphasize to people that I’m an average Alaskan who wants to represent average Alaskans,” he said. “How many people think Lisa Murkowski is an average Alaskan?”

He compared her “million-dollar” campaign RV to his 1995 Chevy Suburban, which “just turned over 300,000 miles on the way down to the Kenai.”

“This was definitely not my five-year plan,” he said of his campaign. “I’m not a career politican, but I’m a leader in my community and I cannot stand by any longer.”

Locher supports a flat corporate and personal income tax. On immigration, “I’m with Trump on building the wall.”

“My biggest issues are securing the border, strengthening our economy and supporting our veterans,” he said.

“I’d like to see more veterans running the (Veterans Administration), as opposed to bureaucrats that have no idea what a veteran goes through,” he said.

He believes the energy bill that Murkowski drafted as chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources “pretty much (cuts) the throat on our state because we rely on energy,” he said. “It’s going to decimate the coal industry.”

Locher said the situation in the Middle East is “very complex.”

“I feel a lot of the issues over in the Middle East were caused by this administration, and even the previous administration,” he said. “I think we need to stay out of their business, but unfortunately we have un-stabilized the entire region. Now we almost have an obligation to stabilize it.”

With regard to Russia, Locher said of President Vladimir Putin, “He’s like another Hitler. He pretends he’s got the world by the horns, but militarily and economically, he’s not very strong.”

On the vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court, Locher said he’s an originalist and wants to see a justice “who is willing to uphold and defend the Constitution, not create laws.”

Murkowski seeks third term

Lisa Murkowski was born in Ketchikan and is seeking her third full term as a member of the U.S. Senate. She was appointed to the Senate in 2002 by her father, Frank Murkowski, who had served in the Senate himself but left federal office to run for (and win) the governorship.

Murkowski’s appointment to fill her father’s seat was intensely controversial and led to changes in Alaska law, but she won re-election in 2004 and again in 2010.

Murkowski is chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and serves in other leadership roles within the Senate.

In her campaign statement, she says her “mission is to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to all Alaskans and fight for access to our natural resources across America.”

Murkowski said in the statement that she believes “we must continue to strengthen and preserve Alaska’s strategic military importance and implement reforms at the Veterans Administration so that the men and women, who dedicated their lives to us, receive the quality care they earned.”

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