Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) is refusing to back down from a liberal agenda that has been tied as closely as possible by his opponent, Republican Dan Sullivan, to a deeply unpopular President Obama.
A Fox News poll showed 61 percent of likely Alaska voters disapprove of Obama and 56 percent think the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, went too far.
That is even worse than in November 2012 when Mitt Romney beat Obama in Alaska, 55 percent to 41 percent.
The poll also shows that voters who are unhappy with President Obama and his policies, as is the case in most midterm elections — nobody likes the party in power — are much more likely to vote Nov. 4 than are those who support Obama.
So it would seem to follow that Democrats in Alaska would be running from Obama and anything that smacks of the word “liberal,” grabbing their Hillary Clinton autobiographies, or holding tight to their Run, Liz, Run song sheets, and heading for the ditches.
Mark Begich will not be joining them.
Begich announced his Stand Up for Alaska Women and Families Plan on Oct. 13. In it, the former mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, proclaims his support for equal pay for women, the fight for healthcare access and privacy, increased investments in early childhood education, women-owned small businesses and Alaska women caring for their elderly parents.
Begich said in a statement released with the plan that his mother raised him and five siblings alone and ran the family business, after their father “went missing.”
“As a son, brother and husband I know Alaska women work hard to improve their family’s future. Alaska families wonder how they are going to buy their first house, make sure their kids are safe and have a good education, and send their children to college while also caring for an elderly parent,” Begich also said in the statement. “As Alaska’s senator, I have fought for Alaska women and families, but I know the job isn’t done.”
A deep line in the sand has been drawn between Begich and Sullivan by women’s rights groups and Planned Parenthood. Lena Dunham, the creator of the HBO series Girls, criticized Sullivan for not taking a stand on the Violence Against Women Act.
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, on its website womenarewatching.org, has given Sullivan his own hashtag, #SlipperySullivan, because of his refusal to clarify his stance on abortion.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as part of a multi-million dollar, multi-state blitz, began running an ad Oct. 14 that accused Sullivan of being weak on women’s rights issues.
The DSCC is scheduled to spend more than $4 million on advertising in Alaska backing Begich.
Democrats can usually count on the votes of women.
But not in Alaska, not this year.
A CNN/ORC survey of Alaskan voters released Oct. 9 showed 51 percent of the women surveyed would vote for Sullivan, compared to 44 percent for Begich.
However, the Fox News poll that showed Alaskans’ deep dissatisfaction with Obama gave the women’s vote to Begich by a margin of 46 percent to 41 percent.
Whichever one of those polls is more accurate, Sullivan does not want to lose a single one of the votes of Alaskan women to Begich.
Sullivan’s campaign debuted an ad in late September featuring Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). In the ad, “Alaska Needs Dan Sullivan,” she said Sullivan, as Alaska’s attorney general, had a history of protecting women from domestic violence.
Neither Begich nor Sullivan can take a single vote for granted in Alaska. But Sullivan has to be feeling more confident than the incumbent as the October calendar turns to November.
Sullivan led Begich by 3 points in the Rasmussen Reports poll released Oct. 14, by 4 points in the Fox News poll and by 6 points in the CNN/ORC Poll.
Still, Sullivan and his supporters, just as Begich and his people are doing with their new campaign strategy aimed at Alaskan women, are not backing off the advertising throttle.
American Crossroads began running a Begich attack ad Oct. 14, “Record,” which goes after his record as mayor of Anchorage. The narrative is Begich left the city with $17 million in debt.
“Mark Begich created a mess that had to be cleaned up,” Cheryl Frasca, a former Anchorage budget director, says in the ad.
American Crossroads by its own accounting ran $1.3 million in advertising attacking Begich and supporting Sullivan from March through August 2014. The super PAC backed by Karl Rove booked $5.9 million in Alaska advertising to run September through Nov 4., according to an Associated Press report.
The onslaught of advertising might work out to be a problem for both campaigns. The Fox News poll that came out Oct. 9 showed a backlash brewing among Alaskans. The collateral damage — voters’ whose minds are changed — could be worse for Begich.
Forty percent of Alaskans who responded to the Fox survey said they felt Sullivan was attacking Begich unfairly. But more than half of voters — 53 percent — said Begich is attacking Sullivan unfairly.