The three Senate-hopefuls running for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, are quick to point out what sets them above their competition, but there is little difference in their opinions on family values.
Former Attorney General Dan Sullivan, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and 2010 Republican nominee Joe Miller are all opposed to same-sex marriage and elective abortions.
The trio filled out surveys for the Alaska Family Action public policy organization this summer that covered a range of topics including abortion’s legality and funding, same-sex marriage, stem cell research, repealing the Affordable Care Act and school vouchers.
For Treadwell, the issues come down to a matter of government’s primary duty to protect individual rights, he said.
“People are being persecuted for having a religious belief of not being supportive (of same-sex marriage) now, and too many people are being told they can’t hold those religious beliefs,” Treadwell told the Empire. “That’s important in the battle over Obamacare and the battle on gay marriage. I want to support religious freedom.”
With the exception of a semi-open-ended question relating to different scenarios related to abortion, the three candidates answered the 18-question survey identically. On the abortion question, Treadwell and Miller would make all abortions except when the mother’s life is at stake illegal. Sullivan includes situations where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest under the exception to a federal ban on abortions.
“I believe in the right to life, and life begins at conception,” Treadwell said. “I understand that right now the law says there’s a choice, but I hope people remember there’s a life at stake.
Sullivan campaign spokesperson Mike Anderson said Sullivan is opposed to most abortions due to his religious beliefs.
“Dan is a lifelong Catholic and a father of three and he believes that life begins at conception,” Anderson said. “As such, he believes we have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us, while also showing understanding in instances of rape, incest and threats to the life of the mother.”
As noted in a comment section by Treadwell, one question presents a potential conflict between states’ rights issues and the social issue at stake. The question asks if the candidates would support the “Marriage Protection Amendment” that would define marriage in the United States as between one man and one woman while also prohibiting the U.S. Constitution or any state constitution from being interpreted differently.
All three Republicans said they support the amendment.
“State’s rights is an argument to protect our current constitution, a federal override as proposed in (the aforementioned question) may be in conflict,” Treadwell wrote in the comment section.
The will of Alaskans is Sullivan’s primary reason for opposing same-sex marriage as an Alaskan senator, Anderson explained.
“Dan supports the traditional definition of marriage that Alaskans adopted by constitutional amendment in 1998,” Anderson said in an email. “He doesn’t think that the federal government should force Alaskans to abandon our deeply-held beliefs just because President Obama and Mark Begich have ‘evolved’ on the issue.”
Additional questions show the three candidates support defunding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, repealing the ACA, providing school vouchers at the federal level, approving only judicial nominees who “embrace a philosophy of judicial restraint,” banning funding stem cell research and outlawing human cloning.
The Alaska Democratic Party was quick to decry the opinions expressed in the survey. Zack Fields, the Democrats’ communications director, said the ideas were “out of the Stone Age.”
“Alaska women are tired of politicians trying to tell us what to do with our own bodies and our own health decisions,” said Kay Brown, executive director of the party.
The Alaska Family Action is holding a debate Monday in Eagle River from noon to 1:30 p.m. for the candidates to explain their reasoning on these and other social issues. According to the AFA’s website, all three candidates are scheduled to attend.
A representative from the Miller campaign said Miller’s campaign schedule Wednesday afternoon and Thursday kept him from being able to comment for this story.