GOP Takes Advantage of Begich Stumble, Gives Challenger National Platform

The TV and web ad that Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) ran blaming Dan Sullivan (R) for the release of a known sex offender who slaughtered an Alaska couple and raped their granddaughter boomeranged.

Nobody but Begich liked that one. Even the family of the victims profiled in the 30-second ad hated it.

So, the ad could be one reason for a wild swing in the notoriously inaccurate polling of Alaska politics that has gone in former state Attorney General Sullivan’s favor. The New York Times/CBS News poll released Sept. 7 showed an 18-point flip in the Republican Senate candidate’s favor.

What was a 12-point advantage for Begich is now a 6-point lead for Sullivan.

Begich is seen by most analysts as one of the most vulnerable of the Senate Democrats up for election this year. And he seemed to be doing OK, until that ad hit.

It became even more apparent how vulnerable Begich is over the first non-holiday weekend in September when Sullivan got some national exposure thanks to the Republican National Committee.

He was given the opportunity to deliver the GOP’s weekly radio address.

Sullivan used the five-minute platform to accuse President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of assembling a federal bureaucracy that is crippling growth in Alaska and across the nation.

“The Obama-Reid agenda has locked up America’s natural resources, burdened small businesses across the country with an avalanche of regulations and suffocated job growth through a complete disrespect for the rule of law,” he said.

“We all lose when the federal government stifles responsible natural resource development.”

Sullivan reassured his audience that Americans are resilient and know how to create jobs. All they (we) need is new leadership in Washington.

“A Republican Senate would approve Keystone XL pipeline jobs because Canada is our neighbor and our ally,” he said. “We would authorize more offshore development because it is good for coastal states and the rest of the country. We would seize the opportunity to expand our energy trade because that will benefit our nation and others who need energy, like Ukraine.”

He also said, “We will open up the National Petroleum Reserve in the Arctic Coastal Plain to responsible (oil and natural gas) development maintaining the highest standards to protect our environment.”

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is huge. It stretches east from the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay to the Canadian border. The 23.5-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve, west of Prudhoe Bay, is the biggest piece of public land in the United States.

The Resource Development Council for Alaska (RDC) argues very little is more important to Alaska than the oil and natural gas industry, which is responsible for Alaska being the only state not to have a personal income tax or a sales tax.

The RDC, a business lobbying group, says oil production accounted for approximately 93 percent of Alaska’s unrestricted general fund revenues, or $8.86 billion in fiscal year 2012.

Leaders of Alaska’s oil and natural gas industry want to unlock the reserves near the Arctic Circle and protect what they have now. To do that, the RDC believes, they need to keep the EPA and the Interior Department out.