The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Fern Greenbank
LOG Editor 

Sen. Begich swings into Seward


Fern Greenbank | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Resurrect Coffee Art Gallery was the site of a Seward meet and greet between Sen. Mark Begich (D) and local supporters. Begich is on a packed campaign schedule, conducting what he calls "good old fashioned campaigning."

At the largest gathering for a political candidate in Seward so far this season, Sen. Mark Begich (D) provided a speed version of his campaign strategy as he makes his way through a whirlwind tour of the Kenai Peninsula.

To a packed crowd at Resurrect Art Coffee House Gallery, Begich recounted his accomplishments and the philosophy behind his representation of Alaskans in the nation's capital.

"This is going to be a tough, tight, close race," said the senator. "Already my opponents have placed or used 20,000 television commercials. It's unbelievable what is happening. I'm on the road trip now going across Alaska, making sure they hear from me personally what's important about his election."

Begich said he is going to stay positive, but if his opponents try to destroy his record, he will vigorously defend himself.

There was a central theme to Begich's comments to a crowd of Seward residents. He said Alaska is in a "unique" position because it has two senators who both sit on the appropriations committee, a powerful government body, and they have voted together 75 percent of the time, while other split delegations average a 45 percent voting record.

"Lisa Murkowski and I don't always agree," said Begich. "But we put aside party. We do what we need to do for Alaska."

Begich reminded supporters that he is currently in the fifth leadership position in the majority party and he is ranked 65th in the leadership line and by the end of this election, he expects to rank 55th.

That ranking, and seats on key committees, said Begich, resulted in funding for small boat harbors in Alaska. Sitka was awarded the funds for its boat harbor and $41 million was appropriated to Alaska for a rural telecommunications bill. All of this, says Begich, is because Alaska currently has a united front in Washington that keeps Alaska in the running for increasingly more funding.

"We have seniority and clout, used to help Alaska, and we can't afford to lose it," said the senator. "The best lobbyist you can have is the chair of the committee."

High on Begich's priority list is climate change and its impact on Alaska's fisheries. Climate change isn't Begich's only environmental concern.

Fern Greenbank | The Seward Phoenix LOG

"People say, Mark, you are for climate change but then you are for oil and gas," recounts Begich. "I tell them, it's a balance. You don't just do oil and gas, you do oil and gas bills the right way."

As an example, Begich opposed Pebble Mine but is a supporter of mines.

"I support mines," he said, "But I support the right mine in the right place and Pebble Mine was the wrong mine in the wrong place. I look at science and listen to Alaskans to make decisions."

The senator introduced Eric Bronson, one of his field coordinators. He is utilizing this grassroots approach with field coordinators and organizers across Alaska.

"I'm campaigning the old fashioned way as much as I can," he said. "I think that is the Alaska way. "


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