US Senate candidate Joe Miller is requesting four debates with first-term incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski. The proposed debates would include both town hall and formal style debate and cover issues including the national budget, defense, health care, illegal immigration, Alaska’s natural resources, and social topics. They would allow Senator Murkowski to defend her eight-year voting record and afford Alaskans the opportunity to make an informed decision in the primary election. Republicans, non-partisans, and undeclared voters are eligible for early voting beginning August 9, with the Republican primary on August 24.
Miller approached Murkowski during the Anchorage Republican Women’s luncheon at former Governor Sheffield’s house on July 8th and challenged her for the second time to multiple debates. Murkowski mentioned a busy schedule, but that weekends would be best. The next day, the Murkowski campaign issued a press release with three “scheduled” debates, without any coordination with the Miller campaign. According to the Miller campaign, these debates are pre-scheduled “soft” forums, with no real interchange between the candidates, and they do not present the time, nor allow for broad public exposure. Further, the Murkowski Campaign did not schedule any debates in Anchorage. Miller believes that Anchorage voters deserve to hear from the candidates and seeks two debates there.
The Miller campaign also believes that Murkowski is purposely trying to limit the time window for debates to the closing weeks before the election. Miller believes it would be a disservice to all Alaska primary voters, especially active duty personnel who will begin voting absentee August 9, if Senator Murkowski ducks real debates and is unwilling to discuss the issues in advance of absentee voting. Earlier this month, she chose to duck even the “soft” Wasilla and Palmer Chambers of Commerce debate by not responding to their invitation. The Chambers sent out invitations in early June for a July 8th forum, to which Miller committed. The Murkowski Campaign requested a new date, Thursday, July 22nd. The Miller campaign contends that Murkowski purposely requested the date with the Chambers knowing it conflicted with the 2nd Amendment Task Force Forum, to which Miller committed, to avoid debating him at that 2nd Amendment Forum.
Alaskans deserve better than these sorts of games and evasion from their elected representative. Senator Murkowski must stand up and take ownership of her votes in a true debate, readily accessible to the public and make the case that she has been voting Alaskans’ values.