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GOP Fight Heats Up in Quest to Unseat Begich

From the state that brings you two Dan Sullivans on one ballot.

Rod Kackley


June 9, 2014 - 3:37 pm
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The phrase Alaska Heat is probably an oxymoron in most arenas of the nation’s 49th state except the political arena.

How could it be anything else in the state that gave the world Sarah Palin?

Not that things have ever cooled off, but the Alaska political arena is sizzling two weeks before summer.

The Alaska GOP Senate primary has moved into a statistical dead heat with Mead Treadwell, the lieutenant governor of Alaska, and Dan Sullivan, a former natural resources commissioner, at 37 percent to 35 percent, respectively.

The poll of 500 likely Republican primary voters that was released June 3 showed a surge in support for Treadwell as compared to the poll released in May that was also conducted by Anchorage-based Dittman Research and paid for by Anchorage Mayor Dan A. Sullivan’s campaign for lieutenant governor.

Yes. As if the Alaska political scene wasn’t interesting enough, there will be two Dan Sullivans on the ballot. Dan S. Sullivan is running for the U.S. Senate.

He was Alaska’s attorney general under Sarah Palin.

There is only one Sarah Palin.

The other Dan Sullivan, Dan A. Sullivan, is running for lieutenant governor.

The May poll showed the Dan Sullivan running for the Senate, Dan S. Sullivan, also known to many as “Afghan Dan” because of his military service as a U.S. Marine, trailing Treadwell by 14 points.

What a difference a month can make. With the poll’s 4 percent margin of error, Sullivan has soared into a virtual tie with Treadwell.

Joe Miller, the Tea Party-backed Republican who won the GOP Senate primary in 2010 only to lose to Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the general election, trails Sullivan and Treadwell by double digits.

The candidate who drew the support of Palin in 2010 had support from 12 percent of the voters who were surveyed.

Fifteen percent of those surveyed said they were undecided.

“The race for Alaska’s Republican Senate primary is far from over. It’s just getting started. Alaskans want someone who knows Alaska and who has a record of fighting for Alaska to take the fight to Washington,” said Treadwell.

“Sadly, some of my opponents continue to decline to debate the issues that matter most to Alaska. Alaskans expect a debate and deserve debates. They seem not to understand that Alaskans want to know their public officials, personally.”

Sullivan has not paid much attention to Treadwell during the past month. The Sullivan campaign has focused its attacks on Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), whom Republican strategists see as very vulnerable.

Sullivan, with the help of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS super PAC, has been blasting Begich – a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – for allegedly not paying attention, or at least not reacting quickly enough, to the VA scandal that embroiled Washington in May.

Sullivan also criticized Begich for not calling for the resignation of Eric Shinseki, who was running the VA when the scandal broke out.

“Instead, he has looked the other way and chosen to give the Obama administration a free pass. Once again, he has taken sides with President Obama rather than the Alaskans he is supposed to represent,” said Sullivan.

The Sullivan team also accused the Begich campaign of being “propped up and supported by environmental extremists committed to preventing any responsible resource development in Alaska,” said Mike Anderson, spokesman for the Sullivan for Senate campaign. ”It’s telling that Mark Begich is getting help from an extreme New York City environmentalist group. Despite what he says back here in Alaska, his record in D.C. tells a very different story.”

“Begich’s record is more in line with liberal East Coast environmentalists than the average Alaskan voter. So, it’s no surprise his radical allies are inserting themselves into Alaska politics.”

Begich, the target of the first major TV advertising campaign focusing on the Veterans Affairs scandal, is now feeling the power of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s automated phone bank.

The calls going out to voters in Alaska accuses Begich of supporting the new EPA Clean Power Plan, saying, “It’s not surprising Mark Begich stands by Barack Obama’s costly regulations, because he supported the same cap-and-trade energy tax plan as Obama.“

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All Comments   (8)
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Wow Art. I'd so rather have Joe in the Senate than Lisa. You are right on with the xenophobia comment -- it was used to great effect by the Murkowski machine to smear Miller, I've heard him referred to as a 'carpetbagger' and 'not a real Alaskan.'
What looks to me like backstabbing of Miller after he won the primary by the Republican machine is one of the big straws diminishing my interest in being involved in electoral politics - certainly as a member of a party. Except maybe in order to 'keep my enemies closer...'
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a bit disturbing how much impact out-of-state money can have in the Senate race of a state with a small population. Another good argument for repeal of the 17th amendment.
I wonder how popular Treadwell and Afghan Dan Sullivan are with Native Alaskans, who showed their clout when they handed the 2010 election to Murkowski in a write-in campaign.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
What you saw in the Murkowski write-in was the clout of the ANCSA corporations. Alaska Natives, Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts, are only about 16% of the State's population and don't in and of themselves have much electoral clout; they have their Native majority districts and some members of the Legislature, but are really only influential in a close Statewide election, in which they are a reliable Democrat constituency so it doesn't matter much what they think of Treadwell or Sullivan. Don't worry, they thing less of Joe Miller but it doesn't matter much there either.

Joe Miller is Mark Begich's best hope of remaining in the Senate simply because he's crazy as a sh*thouse rat and can't stop being crazy as a sh*thouse rat.

Dan Sullivan is Mark Begich's second best hope of remaining in the Senate. "How long have you been in Alaska?" is a lot like "What does your daddy do?" in The South. In either case your answer is your resume, your whole resume. Dan Sullivan married a woman from an Alaska family who was working in DC on, I think, Sen. Stevens' staff. That family connection gave him at best a tangential connection to the State while he stayed in DC working for the federal government and claiming residency in Maryland. Ok, so he did a turn in Afghanistan, but he wasn't humping 80# packs over 10,000 foot mountain passes while being shot at; it was a resume building tour. Somehow he got hooked up with some Palin people and when Palin's nominee for Attorney General got whacked by the Republican-controlled Legislature, Sullivan was suggested. She picked him and since nobody knew anything bad about him, he got confirmed. When Sarah stepped down, Parnell kept him but when Parnell won the Governorship on his own, he kept him on but moved him over to the Department of Natural Resources. DNR is important in an oil state, but it isn't nearly as important as being the Governor's lawyer.

Mead Treadwell is the sitting Lt. Governor. He has held elected and appointed office on his own in Alaska. His ties to the State are firm and long-standing. He has won the Statewide office of Lt. Governor, something St. Sarah failed to do when she first ran for it. You "true conservatives" should understand that Sarah was rather soundly beaten by the conservative candidate when she ran for Lt. Governor in '02.

So, what we have here is a bunch of meddling first by Sarah whose sock-puppet Miller was in '10. Sarah hates all things Murkowski since Frank didn't appoint her to the Senate. She's smart enough to know that taking on a sitting Republican US Senator out of personal spite might effect her book sales and speaking fees, so she propped up Miller so she could say she kept her promise not to run against Lisa.

Rove et al. and the other Republican heavies have made a fundamental mistake by thinking that they can buy Dan Sullivan, somebody they know, a seat in the US Senate. If he's the nominee, I'll vote for him because I'll never vote for another Democrat ever again. But then, most of the Alaska electorate is NP leaning conservative, and they are first and foremost Alaska xenophobes. Dan Sullivan's questionable ties to the State make him raw, red meat for Begich and Begich will beat him like a rented mule over it.

Barring one of them shooting himself in the head or divine intervention, Mark Begich will win a second term and we have only ourselves to blame.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the last polls that I saw, Treadwell was ahead of Sullivan. I hadn't realized until I read your post how tenuous Sullivan's Alaska ties are. Treadwell on the other hand has lived in AK since right after college. Treadwell is a Yalie, perhaps a little bit effete for Alaska, but well qualified for a Senate role. He likes science, has business experience, and is solidly pro-life.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sarah Palin's reputation notwithstanding, Alaska is a pretty well-educated state. The curse of Alaska is something like, granddaddy came to Alaska during the Gold Rush, struck it rich and married a prostitute - there weren't nearly enough nurses and teachers to go around - they whelped Junior and sent him to Hahvud or Stanford. He became a rich Democrat lawyer. His son also went to Hahvud or Stanford and while dabbling in Daddy's law firm was an "investor in recreational agricultural products" before he got elected to the Legislature as a McGovernite Democrat in the Pipeline Era. That cohort built the Alaska government and to this day they are their protégés are still in positions of power in the government and especially on the bench.

With the ascendancy of the oil industry and development of an economy not totally based on washing each others' clothes, the people abandoned the Democrats at the Statewide level. Alaska had been so solidly Democrat it was only admitted to the union with then-solidly Republican Hawaii to preserve the balance in the Senate. The Democrats lost their last Statewide office with Gravel's defeat in the primary leading to Clark Gruening, scion of the old New Deal Era Democrats, being defeated by Frank Murkowski in '80. The Democrats have managed to win the Governorship three times since '82 but only with candidates that sounded more like Republicans than do most Alaska Republicans. Begich was running ads this spring in which he said he was like a "Rockefeller Republican."

Unfortunately, Alaska Republicans have a strong tendency to fratricide. It is very hard to keep the libertarians and the black helicopter crowd, of which there are many out in Sarah Palin's Mat-Su valley, under the Republican tent. Ted Stevens would have kept his seat had Sarah not called for him to step down and leading the libertarians/hard conservatives off to the Constitution Party. That is the constituency that now rabidly supports Joe Miller and they seem poised to give him a second term the same way they gave him his first.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe they have too many Irish in Alaska!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Begich is only in the Senate because of the phony Democratic "corruption" case against Ted Stevens. Stevens was a big fat porker, but not corrupt, as was later shown.

Time for Begich to go home - to one of those Democratic lobbying firms. Obama and Harry Reid have enough "yes men" already.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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