Senator Mark Begich hopes to run for reelection this fall by making President Obama “irrelevant” in Alaska. This translates to running away from Obamacare, the president’s dismal foreign policy record and several continuing scandals so Alaskans forget that he is the leading Democrat and most important Obama supporter in the state.
Begich is also trying to change the subject by attacking U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, who appears likely to win the August primary election.
Begich’s early attacks on Sullivan reflect how deeply Democrats are afraid of him. Sullivan has attracted unusually broad support and may be able to unite the Republican Party and win over Democratic and Non-Partisan voters. Sullivan is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves with 20 years of service as an infantry and reconnaissance officer. He served as Governor Sarah Palin’s Attorney General and as Alaska’s Commissioner of Natural Resources.
Sullivan also held high-level jobs in Washington DC with the National Security Council and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be an Assistant Secretary of State in the Bush Administration.
Sullivan is endorsed by the conservative Club for Growth, as well as centrist Republican Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State. He has a moderate position on climate change that will make it difficult for Begich to portray him as an extremist. Sullivan has vastly out-raised his primary election opponents, generating even more money for his campaign than Senator Begich in the first quarter of 2014.
Begich’s main attack on Sullivan so far is that he’s not a “real” Alaskan. Sullivan moved to Alaska in 1997, although he spent a significant amount of time out of the state between 2002 and 2009 because of his military service and senior jobs with the U.S. government.
If Begich’s argument is valid, Hillary Clinton never would have been a U.S. Senator. Unlike Sullivan, who has held senior jobs with the state government and served for several years with the Anchorage-based Fourth Reconnaissance Battalion – the Marine Corps Reserve’s premier cold weather reconnaissance unit, Clinton moved to New York solely to be a senator from a state where she had never lived.
Begich is also attacking Sullivan by going after the billionaire Koch brothers who are regularly demonized by top Democrats as conservative outsiders trying to buy elections. Although Sullivan says his campaign has taken no contributions from the Kochs, PAC ads have aired throughout Alaska on T.V., radio, and online mediums that Begich claims the Koch Brothers funded. The paranoid Democratic complaints about the Kochs have become tiresome. It’s also difficult to palate Begich’s fear mongering about a “new tidal wave” of out-of-state money buying campaign advertising when a Democratic super-PAC largely funded by Harry Reid’s Senate Majority PAC has already committed over $1.6 million for Begich’s re-election according to online’s RealClearPolitics. Rest assured millions of dollars will also be spent to defend Begich by left-wing Democratic moneyman George Soros.
Dan Sullivan doesn’t have the Republican senatorial nomination wrapped up. Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell may be down over 10% in the polls, but he has a good ground game, is respected throughout the state, and historically – Alaskan primary polls have been unpredictable. Treadwell is a viable and worthy candidate, but is behind in fundraising. Often in large-scale state and federal campaigns, a sizable messaging and communications budget matters. The third Republican candidate, Joe Miller, is far behind Sullivan and Treadwell based on recent national polling data and has a slim chance of winning the primary comparatively.
Mark Begich recognizes the major issue in his Alaskan U.S. Senate race will be President Obama and the growing unpopularity of the Administration because of failed policies and growing scandals (Benghazi and the Veterans Administration most recently). As a Democratic Senator who has facilitated Obama’s policies – especially by championing and voting for Obamacare – Begich is desperate to change the subject. That’s why he’s focusing on false issues about Dan Sullivan. Yet – he remains inextricably linked to the president.
The fact that Begich and Las Vegas Democratic U.S. Senator Harry Reid began their attack on Sullivan so early is indicative of how fearful they are about Begich’s re-election chances, should he face a formidable candidate like Dan Sullivan. Sullivan will appeal to Republican, Democratic and Non-Partisan/Undeclared voter bases in the state (as will Treadwell), and whether Sullivan or Treadwell win, their top priority should be to continue directing voter attention to Mark Begich as Obama’s top guy in Alaska. A clear, legitimate difference in candidates will be visible for voters to consider once contrasted. No wonder Begich is scared.