Battle for the Senate: Two More Seats in Play??
Polling is scant, but Alaska and Kansas just might now be competitive Senate races.
There isn’t a lot of data, but some commentators think there’s an outside chance of the Alaska and Kansas seats flipping. That would be pretty startling, given the strong GOP bent of both cases. Still, strangers things have happened, some in the recent past. Here are the candidates in those races and their views about climate and energy.
Dan Sullivan is the Republican incumbent. His campaign site touts his support for returning public lands to the state and for opening up public lands to development, from ANWR to the Tongass National Forest. Besides supporting the oil and gas industry generally, he also reports “calling out and fighting against financial institutions that discriminate against Alaska energy development projects and the communities and workers that support them.” Sullivan’s lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters is 8%.
Al Gross is an independent candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party. He’s a doctor and commercial fisherman, an interesting combination. At first I didn’t think he had an issues tabe, but it’s actually labeled “Prescriptions.” His website says: It’s clear: “Man-made climate change is occurring, and Alaska is Ground Zero. . . . I will be proactive in a way that not only addresses the impacts to Alaskans but also seizes the opportunity to create jobs and lead Alaska into the clean energy economy.” He supports “responsible development” of oil and gas in Alaska, but says that the industry is declining and Alaska needs to diversify its economy.
Roger Marshall (R). This is an open seat. Marshall is currently in the House, where his League of Conservation Score is 6%. His signature issue is abortion. According to his website: “PRO-LIFE ISN’T JUST A SLOGAN. IT’S HIS LIFE’S WORK.” His website also puts a lot of emphasis on agricultural issues. In that mode, he denounces federal protections for Endangered Species and wetlands: “Puddles are puddles – they are not wetlands. Ditches are ditches – they are not navigable streams. Lesser Prairie Chickens are great birds, but the economic consequences of federally listing them as ’threatened’ are totally unjustified.” He also takes a firm stance against federal regulation in general.
Barbara Bollier (D). Like her opponent, Barbara Bollier is a physician. She was a long-time Republican who switched parties due to the brutal spending cuts imposed by GOP Governor Brownback. Her website stresses health care and agricultural issues, but it also speaks to climate change: “Climate change and extreme weather are some of the most significant challenges facing all Kansans, including our farmers and ranchers. . . .The more we delay, the more our way of life will be permanently changed. Without action in the next decade, Kansans could see our entire agricultural tradition permanently altered. And without action in the next twenty years, our grandchildren will come of age in a world unrecognizable to our own.”
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These races weren’t on anyone’s radar screen six months ago. Even now, it’s not clear how competitive these seats have become. We can no longer rule out the possibility, however, that these seats might flip on November 3. If either of them does flip, it would likely be part of a broader wave election.