Alaska's Begich Campaigns on His 'Power to Nag'

Image: Alaska's Begich Campaigns on His 'Power to Nag'

Monday, 14 Jul 2014 06:53 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Sen. Mark Begich is campaigning on his ability, as a fellow Democrat in a Republican-leaning state, to effectively nag President Barack Obama on behalf of Alaska, The Washington Post reported.

His other main selling point is that unlike any of his prospective GOP opponents, he is a native Alaskan.

While Begich's predecessor, veteran Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, was able to deliver billions in earmarks over a career spanning decades, that's not an option for the freshman incumbent. Since 2010, Congress has forbidden funds be spent on projects that benefit only a lawmaker's district or state, according to The Hill.

With earmarks dead and Congress deadlocked making it hard to pass new legislation, "Begich is running on his power to nag," the Post reported. He says his aptitude at pestering Obama has delivered benefits to his state, "There's times when I'm a total thorn, you know, and he doesn't appreciate it."

Begich, a former mayor of Anchorage, is pro-gun and pro-oil. His father, Democratic Rep. Nick Begich, was killed in a 1972 plane crash that also took the life of Louisiana Democratic Rep. Hale Boggs. The younger Begich defeated Stevens in 2008. Stevens was killed in a plane crash in 2010.

The incumbent has been targeted for defeat by national Republican groups along with five other vulnerable sitting Democrats. Their defeat would flip the Senate to Republican control in 2015.

Begich's opponent will be chosen in the Aug. 19 Republican primary.

On campaign stops up and down the Land of the Midnight Sun, Begich emphasizes that he has held up the president's appointments until he got what he wanted from the White House. This could be keeping an Air Force base in Alaska to preserve jobs, getting reimbursements for a hospital, or drilling permission in Alaskan coastal waters.

"Sooner or later, Washington will figure out that I don't take no for an answer," says Begich. This is the message he brings to the Alaska native population, whaling captains, and local mayors in his uphill re-election quest, the Post reported.

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