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.“
The voice on the call also says a cap-and-trade energy tax could have killed almost 6,000 jobs in Alaska, and reduced disposable income for households in the state by more than $1,200.
Begich is one of several Democrats seen as vulnerable by the NRSC who were targeted for an automated phone bank attack June 2, the Washington Post reported.
The phone messages accused Begich, along with Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), of supporting carbon emissions regulations supported by the Obama administration.
The voicemails accused Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) of giving money to Democrats who support the regulations.
The Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit sister organization of American Crossroads, told CNN $450,000 was invested to run the TV campaign the last week of May, accusing Begich of complicity in the VA scandal if only because he is a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the Senate.
The narrator of the commercial called the scandal of veterans not being treated and the fraud associated with it “a national disgrace.”
“His response?” says the narrator. “If there’s a problem, they need to fix it. Tell Senator Begich: when veterans are dying, it is a problem.”
The Begich team said it was Sullivan who had stayed silent on the VA issue too long. Susanne Fleek-Green, the campaign manager of Alaskans for Begich, said within 24 hours of the veterans scandal in Arizona Begich wrote the Veterans Administration calling the incident “disgraceful” and urging the VA to adopt solutions to capacity issues.
She also said Rove’s Crossroads attack groups were rushing to defend Sullivan’s monthlong silence on the VA scandal by attacking Begich. Rove’s organization has pledged to spend over $7 million on attack ads against Begich between now and Election Day.
“Turning the death of veterans in Arizona into a political attack ad in Alaska proves the appalling and disgraceful lengths Dan Sullivan and his Outside allies will go to wage political attacks that disgust Alaskans,” said Fleek-Green.
A Republican also came to the defense of Begich on the VA issue. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, criticized the Crossroads GPS attack ads against Begich and said the deaths of “Americans, people who have worn the uniform should not be a political football.”
Begich, the only member of the U.S. Senate who didn’t go to college, faces only token opposition in the Senate Democratic primary, freeing him up to answer Sullivan’s charges.
The former mayor of Anchorage turned one of Sullivan’s ads against the Republican, pointing out that Sullivan had recorded it while standing atop the Dena’ina Center, a convention center that Begich said was built at his urging.
It was called “the crowning achievement of his tenure as mayor of Anchorage,” according to a statement from the Begich campaign.
After mentioning that in a recent ad of his own, Begich also offers Sullivan suggestions for future political advertisements including Eielson Air Force Base, where Begich kept the F-16s, or the new hospitals in Nome or Barrow for which Begich delivered funds.
“Dan Sullivan paid high praise to Mark Begich by filming a political ad at the Dena’ina Center,” said Max Croes, the communications director for Alaskans for Begich, “and we are happy to suggest additional locations where Dan Sullivan can showcase more of the results Mark Begich has delivered for Alaska.”
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