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.


What’s important to them, Sullivan believes, is critical to Alaska and the nation.

As bad as he believes the EPA and Interior Department mismanagement of the nation’s oil and gas reserves is, Sullivan sees it as only a symptom of a much larger problem.

Sullivan began the GOP weekly radio address by claiming he was worried about what the future holds for his three teenage daughters because the federal government was crippling the economy and hindering business expansion.

But Sullivan promised that would change for the better if only America would give the GOP control of the Senate.

He said the Republican Senate would “reform burdensome federal regulations.”

“Right now we are stuck in the last century and the old system is needlessly stifling us,” he said.

“Solving problems does not have to mean big government solutions dictated by DC bureaucrats. Republicans like me believe the key to getting our country back on track is less government intrusion and more freedom for you.”

However, one political action committee that is backing the re-election of Begich says Sullivan is actually backing federal bureaucrats who are threatening to wreck Alaska’s fishing industry.

The Hill reports a veterans advocacy group’s super PAC, the VoteVets Action Fund, is going to run $675,000 worth of TV and web ads, and web banners blasting Sullivan for supporting a federal government decision that allowed an exploratory mineral mining project known as Pebble Mine to begin operations in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.


Pebble Mine is no small issue for advocates on either side of the environmental-business fence in Alaska.

The organization, Save Bristol Bay, claims it would be one of the largest mines in the world and because of “its size, geochemistry and location, Pebble runs a high risk of polluting Bristol Bay,” which is one of the world’s largest and most productive wild salmon strongholds.”

To use the word “blasting” is not completely cliche. The ad includes a violent explosion to make the point that “even a small leak” from an Alaska mining project backed by Sullivan could “kill thousands of Alaskan jobs” and the state’s $500 million commercial fishing industry.

It ends with a jab at Sullivan’s Outsider status, not being a born-and-bred Alaskan, saying, “That may not matter much for someone from Ohio like Dan Sullivan, but it would be a disaster for Alaska families.”


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