Alaska Libertarians scrambled Aug. 27 to replace their candidate for U.S. Senate, Thom Walker, while Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan could be shopping for a new television set.
Walker announced his decision to withdraw from the Senate race on the Alaska Libertarian Party’s Facebook page.
“After long deliberation I must accept that my work location and schedule will have me out of town, out of contact and off the campaign trail for too long. Alaskans need strong third party candidates to bring all issues to the table and to offer solutions to Alaska’s voters. I believe a strong Libertarian Party candidate is a step in that direction,” he said. “It is because of this, that I regretfully must decline the nomination by the Libertarian Party, and will step aside.”
Walker was quickly replaced with longtime Libertarian Mark Fish, who said he would stand up against the federal government’s moves against property rights in Alaska.
However, this all has go through Gail Fenumiai , the Alaska elections director. She told the Alaska Dispatch News she needs to get Walker’s withdrawal in writing, complete with Walker’s signature.
That could be tough for the same reason that Walker pulled out of the race: his remote location.
Both Walker, who received 4.5 percent of the vote, and Fish, who received 1.84 percent, were on Alaska’s primary ballot.
Meanwhile, Sullivan is running a new TV ad in his race against Sen. Mark Begich (D) that ironically shows him shooting a television set.
Sullivan says in the ad that because “millions of dollars of negative ads are flooding into Alaska, paid for by Washington special interests, pretty soon, you’re going to want to do this to your TV.”
Sullivan points out in the TV ad that he tried to get Begich to sign what the Republican called the Alaska Agreement. Both candidates would have agreed to stop third-party groups from advertising in the campaign.
“Third-party special-interest groups with unlimited spending capability have committed tens of millions of dollars to this race, shattering previous records and crowding out Alaskan voices,” Sullivan said. “It should be Alaskans driving the conversation on where this state needs to go and what kind of leadership it will take in the U.S. Senate to get there.”
Begich, and at the time primary candidate Mead Treadwell, both declined to sign the Alaska Agreement.
Alaska Democrats called Sullivan’s Alaska Agreement “hypocritical” because he had supported the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
Ironically, while Sullivan was shooting his television set, two outside groups were running TV ads attacking Begich. The ads were paid for by the Americans for Prosperity and Crossroads GPS PACs, the former backed by the Koch brothers and the latter the work of Karl Rove.
AFP spent more than $1 million to tell Alaskans Begich had missed more Senate votes than 80 percent of his colleagues. Crossroads GPS ran an ad showing that Begich paid women on his Senate staff $23,000 less than their male colleagues. That ad run cost close to $1.3 million.
Maybe it is working.
The first poll to be released following the August GOP primary in Alaska shows Sullivan leading Begich.
It is a Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of likely Alaska voters released Aug. 26 that shows Sullivan with a 47 percent to 45 percent lead over Begich. Three percent like some other candidate in the race, and four percent are undecided.
With only seven percent not making up their minds, it is easy to see there is not much wiggle room in this Senate race that Republicans have said is critical to their plan to take over control of the U.S. Senate in November.
While the Rasmussen survey is the first to come out following the GOP primary, it is also the first to show that Sullivan could beat Begich.
The Real Clear Politics aggregate average of polls shows Begich in the lead by 4.6 percent but RCP also notes “Alaska polling is notoriously inaccurate. We likely won’t have a good indication who will win this race until the morning after Election Day.”