Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Anchorage’s Democratic mayor, Mark Begich, is challenging Republican incumbent Ted Stevens for his Senate seat this November. Begich, 46, is in his fifth year as mayor, and is the city’s first mayor actually born in Anchorage.

In a state that’s already feeling the effects of a warming planet, Begich lists climate change as a top issue in his campaign, calling for a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. He’s also big on energy issues, calling for a renewable portfolio standard of 25 percent by 2025 and efficiency improvements to reduce energy consumption 25 percent by 2018.

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He does break from the Democratic majority by calling for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is sure to ruffle enviro feathers.

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The senate seat he’s hoping to claim has been occupied by Ted Stevens since 1968. Stevens is known for unconventional takes on global warming and leading the Republican charge to open ANWR for drilling (though he’s probably better known for berating the “series of tubes” that is the internet).

Begich was in Austin this week, appearing on the “Energizing America” panel on Friday morning. We grabbed a few minutes with the candidate to talk about climate and energy issues and the role they’ll play in this year’s campaign.