ANCHORAGE - A West Anchorage Senate race might be key to whether the bipartisan coalition in the Senate survives this election cycle.
In the Republican primary race, Bob Bell and Liz Vazquez are vying for the right to take on Democratic Senator Hollis French.
Bell and Vazquez both said they're more electable than the other.
They agree that the bipartisan coalition in the Senate isn't working.
Bell said, "So we have Democrats and we have Republicans, and sometimes other parties, and they take turns being in charge. And when you change that by a coalition, it becomes dysfunctional. And when it becomes dysfunctional, then certain people have too much power."
Vazquez said, "We need new leadership. We need to break the stalemate. We need to break the committees of whiners and complainers that we have in Juneau and bring the state forward into a prosperous future."
But not surprisingly, there's no agreement on who would be best able to help break up the coalition by defeating French, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"It's going to be a tough fight,” Bell said. “And in order to engage him as he needs to be engaged you've got to be able to raise money and you've got to be up to speed on issues, and you've got to have the experience I’ve just described I have. So I think it's electability."
But despite Bell's fund-raising edge, Vazquez said she's the stronger candidate.
"Well, first of all, I’ve got more passion, more energy. I'm better prepared. Not only do I have two masters of business administration, but being on the board of directors of Chugach Electric for six years, we managed an association that had a budget of revenues of almost $300 million, and we steered that ship well while we were there."
Vazquez is a lawyer who has been a prosecutor with the Department of Law and an administrative law judge.
"I guarantee I would not be in the pocket of anyone,” she said. “I would not be a rubber stamp. I don't have a reputation for that. I have a proven record."
Bell, a former Anchorage assemblyman, runs an engineering and surveying business and stresses his connections to the state's biggest industry.
"I have dealt with oil companies for 35 years. We've done business with them for 35 years. I've negotiated with them for 35 years. I find them to be very tough negotiators, but fair."
Two candidates with different kinds of experience, but with a common goal.