Candidates for US House, Senate, AK governor talk fish next week at Kodiak

Dunleavy, Tshibaka afraid to 'talk fish' at Kodiak debates. All other candidates for AK gov, US House & Senate will be there. Live on statewide radio & Zoom!

by | September 28, 2022

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Dunleavy, Tshibaka won’t show up for the debates

Credit: Matt Buxton
US Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka

Oct. 3 & 4 debates broadcast live statewide via radio and on Zoom

Since 1991 major candidates for Alaska governor have met in Kodiak to debate issues related to the seafood industry, the state’s largest private employer and top export by far. Candidates for US Senate and House were added in 2004.

The tradition, hosted by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, continues next week.

Two of the three Alaska candidates for governor – Bill Walker and Les Gara – will take the stage on Monday, October 3 at 7pm. Governor Dunleavy will be notably absent.

On Tuesday, October 4, US House candidates Sarah Palin, Nick Begich, Chris Bye and Mary Peltola face off starting at 6:30pm.

Peltola, the incumbent, won the interim House seat in August that was suddenly left vacant by the death of Congressman Don Young and is vying for another win in the November election.

The US House candidates debate will be immediately followed by US Senate candidates Lisa Murkowski and Pat Chesbro. Candidate Kelly Tshibaka also refused to attend.

The debates will be moderated by local Kodiak businessman Dan Rohrer. Questions to the candidates will be posed by a panel of fishery savvy Kodiak residents, according to an event organizer who added that the events will be fast-paced and not include any “gotcha questions.”

The three debates all will be in person at the Kodiak High School auditorium and broadcast statewide over Alaska Public Radio Network stations.

Here is the Zoom link for the governor candidates

Here is the Zoom link for the US House and Senate debates

Questions? Contact the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce at (907) 486-5557 or

Dunleavy and Tshibaka bail on Alaska’s longest running industry

This is the second time Mike Dunleavy has declined to attend the Kodiak fisheries debate. In 2018 he backed out days before the scheduled event, after repeatedly saying he would be there.

The no-show attracted national attention. “They never miss it, such is the importance of fishing to the state of Alaska,” wrote Undercurrent News. Dunleavy went on to win the governor’s race that year.

This time, Dunleavy did not even give the courtesy of a response to the Kodiak Chamber’s invitation, which went out months in advance.

Tshibaka’s campaign said she had “a scheduling conflict” and would not attend the fisheries debate.

Rumors are swirling that Tshibaka bowed out because she is fearful of being confronted with two recent fishery violations.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety fined Tshibaka $270 in October 2021 for commercial fishing without a proper license.

Tshibaka also ran into trouble in 2019 when she got a resident-only sport fishing license limited to people who have lived in the state for more than a year, which at the time she had not.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s campaign blasted Tshibaka for bowing out of the fisheries debate, saying she joins a growing national trend to hide from voters by refusing to debate opponents.

“Kelly Tshibaka’s decision to be a no-show at the fisheries debate is as baffling as it is insulting to Alaskans, particularly because she demanded more debates just weeks ago, stating ‘it’s the responsibility of all candidates to show up.’ It’s clear that Kelly didn’t want to be on the hook to answer questions about the numerous fishing laws she’s broken since moving to Alaska just 3 years ago,” said campaign spokesperson Shea Siegert. “If Kelly can’t show up for debates, Alaskans can’t trust her to show up for us when it matters most.”

Tagged as: debate

About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


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