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Alaska Election 2018: Q&A with Mike Dunleavy

We recently interviewed Mike Dunleavy who is the Republican candidate for governor of Alaska in the 2018 election. Mike is an outdoorsman and we wanted to get his perspective on certain key issues.

Alaska GOP candidate Mike Dunleavy fly fishing
Mike Dunleavy is an avid angler who enjoys dry fly fishing for Arctic grayling. Photo courtesy of Alaskans for Dunleavy

FA: How did you get into politics and what do you want to accomplish if you are elected Governor?

MD: I got into politics because I wanted to be a public servant and give back to the great state I love. I first ran for office in the Mat-Su for a school board seat in 2009. I was elected to the Senate in 2012. I ran for the Senate seat because I wanted to ensure Alaska had a strong economy going forward and that our natural resources were managed properly.

As Governor, I want to work to put our state back on course. I, like many Alaskans I’ve heard from, want a governor that they can relate to, or more importantly, that relates to them. There is much work to be done to move our state forward, to make our communities safe, to put our people back to work, but first and foremost we must restore public trust and confidence. Folks just want to know they matter, they are being heard, and ultimately its the people who are in charge and that their elected officials are working for them.

FA: What’s your stance on fish and game management and allocation?

MD: Alaska is blessed with an amazing state constitution, one that recognizes the importance of our natural resources to the people and for our future. It provides excellent direction, it merely needs to be followed. Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, game, lands and water are reserved to the people and to be managed for sustained yield. All Alaskans deserve to share in the bounty, and in the burden of conservation, of our fish and game resources.

Scientific, results-based management is essential. Balanced Boards of Game and Fish with smart, fair-minded and responsive members must be appointed and maintained. If not, allocative decisions will not ever be accepted. In my mind, the most important fish or game meat is that on the Alaskan dinner table; regardless of where or how it is lawfully harvested.

FA: What are your favorite species to hunt and fish? Do you have favorite locations you go to target certain fish and game?

MD: That’s a tough one. I love being in the outdoors whether it is hiking, boating, riding horses/mules, hunting or fishing. I do love all kinds of hunting and fishing. Probably my favorite species of fish to go after is grayling. I like dry fly fishing. I like the types of water grayling inhabit, and there are usually fewer people on the river fishing for grayling than other species. Sheefish is another species I like to fish. Living in the northwestern part of the state, I was fortunate to be near some of the best sheefishing in the world. Fishing on the upper Kobuk away from the crowds and reeling in enormous sheefish is quite the experience.

I enjoy all kinds of hunting, but hunting moose and caribou are probably at the top of the list. Again, if you get far enough from the road/trails, you have the entire country to yourself; you work hard for your game, and when you are successful a full freezer of fresh meat is your reward.

FA: What do you see as the major issues of concern in Alaska and how do you plan to fix them?

MD: Public safety is a huge issue facing Alaska today. Over the past three years crime has spiked throughout Alaska. Today we lead the nation in all kinds of criminal activity. We have got to get this under control as soon as possible. We need more troopers and prosecuting attorneys as well as closer cooperation with federal authorities on drug interdiction.

Getting our budget under control is a critical issue. We are spending too much and exhausting our savings. The Governor needs to submit budgets to the Legislature that focus on primary state functions such as public safety, transportation, education and management of our natural resources. The state needs to live within our means, just like Alaskan families and businesses do. We have to quit throwing money at problems and hoping they go away. If we do not control our rate of spend our bloated budget will push the state into taxing and eventually eliminating the PFD to pay for out of control growth. We can and must do better.

Our education system is currently rated as one of the worst performing systems in the country, yet we fund it at a higher rate than most other states. We have got to ensure that all children leaving third grade can read at grade level, that all children are proficient in algebra by ninth grade. In addition, we need to offer more career tech courses so more graduates are prepared for the working world.

We need to better manage our natural resources both for use by Alaskans and for growing our economy. As mentioned we need to grow our fish and game stocks for all Alaskans. We need to employ whatever means possible to make sure more fish are returning to our rivers and more game is available for hunting. We also need to create an environment in Alaska that is conducive for investment. We are a natural resources state rich in oil, gas, timber, fish, gold, copper, etc. If managed properly, with the right regulations and taxation policies, we could be growing our economy and providing more jobs and more revenue for Alaska.

FA: How do you plan on balancing resource development – specifically oil, gas, timber and minerals – with the needs of fish and game?

MD: By ensuring our environmental protections to be the best in the nation, while at the same time allowing Alaskans to work and create wealth. I’m not a believer in only one use or in exclusionism. I believe that we can successfully manage multiple uses. We have proven that time and again in Alaska. Of course, it takes paying attention to detail and good active management by those tasked with that important responsibility. I am both pro-hunting and pro-fishing and also believe in responsible resource development. I believe most Alaskans share that view.

FA: What else do you want our readers to know about you?

MD: Like many of your readers, I came to Alaska as a young man to experience the outdoors and to live the Alaskan dream. When I arrived, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. From fishing for cutthroat on Prince of Wales Island, to hunting caribou in western Alaska I have experienced much of what Alaska has to offer. I met my wife Rose of 31 years in Alaska, and all three of my children have been born and raised in Alaska. I was a teacher, principal, and school superintendent in both rural and urban Alaska.

I have the background and life experience to lead our great state into a new era of prosperity. Anything less than a bright future for our kids and grand kids is simply not acceptable. Here are some additional things to know about me: 2nd Amendment advocate, Life Member of NRA, member of the 2nd Amendment Foundation, member of Gun Owners of America, lifelong hunter, trapper, and fisherman with too many guns to name.


Marcus Weiner is publisher of Fish Alaska and Hunt Alaska magazines. To learn more, visit


This content originally appeared as the Alaska Traveler column in the August/September 2018 issue of Fish Alaska.

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