PJ Media

Challengers Pounce on Begich's Assertion That He's a 'Thorn' in Obama's Butt

Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell would like to tell Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) “you are no Ted Stevens,” paraphrasing the line that the late Sen. Lloyd Bentsen used to skewer Sen. Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice presidential debate.

Treadwell, one of three GOP Senate primary candidates in Alaska, said he couldn’t believe Begich told the Washington Post that he had been “a thorn in (Pres.) Obama’s ass.”

“Obama is still sitting on us. He hasn’t even had to scratch the itch. Begich is the 60th vote for Obamacare and a rubber stamp for Obama’s radical agenda. In AK vs. DC, Begich is not even on the field,” said Treadwell in a statement to PJ Media.

The Morning Joe panel on MSNBC couldn’t believe it either. Host Joe Scarborough, for whom the show is named, said, “It suggests that he may be in trouble in Alaska, I think…it is someone who is scared.”

Mike Anderson, the spokesman for Dan Sullivan, the leading GOP Senate primary candidate in Alaska, told PJ Media his campaign agrees with MSNBC’s resident conservative.

“Senator Begich’s claim to be a ‘thorn’ in Obama is laughable, considering he votes with President Obama 97 percent of the time,” said Anderson. “This smoke and mirrors charade does not work with Alaskans, who know better than to listen to typical election-year politicking from career politicians like Mark Begich.”

Treadwell also agreed with Scarborough, adding his voice to those who believe Begich is running scared “because he is out of step with Alaskans.”

“And despite millions of TV dollars coming in to prop him up, his negatives are still very high. He’s even tried to pick Dan Sullivan, a D.C. insider, as his opponent because he knows that Dan doesn’t really understand Alaska,” said Treadwell. “This is not Karl Rove’s seat, it’s not Obama’s seat, it’s our seat.”

Begich doesn’t have a primary opponent. But the latest Real Clear Politics aggregate numbers show he is tied with Sullivan and only two points ahead of Treadwell.

Ron Fournier, senior political columnist at the National Journal, told the other members of the Morning Joe panel, “We see this every time we are in the sixth term of a presidency, especially an unpopular president. His party wants to distance themselves. The problem is you can’t. The best person to do that is a Republican.”

Begich has two problems in Alaska, according to Leon H. Wolf, one of the RedState blog authors.

He wrote a few hours after the Morning Joe panel tore into Begich, “First, he was the deciding vote for Obamacare, which is Obama’s most significant legislative accomplishment.”

“The second is that he has an absolutely pitiful record of actually opposing anything Obama wants to do, so much so that even the Washington Post is forced to report his ‘efforts’ with a half-snicker,” Wolf continued.

“Begich, 52, is a first-term senator known for being pro-gun and pro-oil. But he is not actually that well known for anything,” reporter David A. Fahrenthold half-snickered in the Washington Post article that has turned into a lampoon of the Alaska Democrat. “In the Senate, Begich is a junior figure, moving through the chamber’s power structure at the speed of a mastodon trapped in a glacier.”

The Washington Post article pointed out that the only legislation Begich has sponsored that has managed to win approval is a bill renaming a courthouse in Anchorage.

Treadwell also took issue with the idea that Begich had been pro-Alaska and a watchdog or thorn for the White House.

“There are at least a half of a dozen decisions by Obama that have prevented new oil from going into our Alaska pipeline — blocking the Outer Continental Shelf, the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA), and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) development to name just a few.  As a 97 percent, pro-Obama vote, Begich is just clocking time in D.C.,” said Treadwell. “There’s no action for Alaska and he’s no thorn.”

Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, doesn’t only believe Begich’s strategy is flawed. He believes it is doomed.

“Usually it is a losing approach for candidates who try to distance themselves from the president because, of course, because his opponent will find, you know, the 90-whatever percent times that he voted with Barack Obama.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee statement said that Begich was more of “a comfort blanket for Obama than a thorn.”

Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey thinks it’s ridiculous to believe that any Democrat has been a thorn in Obama’s side or any other part of his presidential anatomy.

“If Democrats want to sell voters on sending ‘a thorn in Obama’s [posterior]’ to Washington, why choose a Democrat? In the case of Senate incumbents, why send someone whose votes enabled ObamaCare, which is one of the administration’s biggest overreaches? Begich cast his vote for the ACA, as did Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan, Mark Pryor, and every other Democratic incumbent. … A vote for a real restraint on Obama’s power would be a vote cast for a Republican, and everyone knows it,” Morrissey wrote.

The Obamacare issue is going to be tough for not just Begich, but any of the Democrats running for election in November. The latest Real Clear Politics aggregate poll shows only 39.8 percent of U.S. voters in favor of the Affordable Care Act, while 54.3 percent oppose it.

However, another Morning Joe regular, Willie Geist, pointed out this isn’t the first time Begich has tried to stay at more than arm’s length from the White House.

The panel erupted in gales of laughter when Geist told them Begich said during his first Senate campaign that he wanted to “make President Obama irrelevant in Alaska.”

(For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)