Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Thursday seniority in the United States Senate matters and the state should send her back to Washington, D.C. to fight for Alaska's issues there.
She also criticized opponent Joe Miller's announcement that he won't talk about some issues in his past.
"It astounds me," she said.
The eight-year incumbent visited Juneau the day after filing to run as a write-in candidate, following her surprise August loss to Fairbanks' Miller in the Republican primary. Scott McAdams of Sitka is the Democratic nominee.
Murkowski said she was the most senior Republican member of the energy committee, important to Alaska for issues such as offshore drilling and natural gas pipeline loan guarantees.
"This is kinda real big fat stuff," she said, as the chairman and ranking member of that committee play the key roles in setting the nation's energy policy.
She also noted she had been on the Indian Affairs Committee for her full eight years in the Senate, another position crucial to Alaska. Alaska Native interests in the state have been aggressively backing Murkowski with a group called Alaskans Standing Together.
She said out-of-state interests are backing Miller, who has criticized her efforts to bring federal largess to Alaska.
Other states in the nation had many years to build up their infrastructure, and now have things like interstate highways and electrical interties the federal government helped pay for.
"That was all of us as Americans that paid in," she said. "We're going to get Alaska's fair share as well."
After her presentation to the chamber, Murkowski spoke with reporters and said she was amazed Miller has refused to answer questions about his past. Miller told Anchorage media that he won't answer "personal" questions, but has also refused to talk with the Empire about contradictory campaign statements from this 2004 race for a state office.
Murkowski said those running for office have an obligation to the public.
"I'm a public official, and as such I give up a certain privacy aspect," she said.
That's especially true for someone who hasn't held public office before.
"People have a right to know who the candidate is," she said, and that includes a close look at their resume.
"If there are holes or questions, you'd better be prepared to talk about them," she said.
A new public opinion survey made public Thursday by the Club For Growth, an interest group backing Miller, said the race was a three-way toss-up.
Statewide, Miller was at 33 percent, with Murkowski at 31 percent and McAdams at 27 percent.
It said that in the Juneau market, McAdams was "actually demolishing" Murkowski by a large margin.
The poll was done by National Research, Inc. but not enough information was provided about how the poll was done to judge its accuracy. The Club for Growth said Murkowski was not named, but those questioned were given the option of supporting Miller, McAdams or "another candidate."
Speaking to reporters after the chamber luncheon, Murkowski declined to say if she thought that Miller's campaign was imploding, but said his refusal to answer questions "sends a pretty precarious signal about the state of his campaign."
Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or email@example.com.
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