Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is endorsing her former National Security Council employee Dan Sullivan's Senate campaign, marking her first endorsement of the 2014 election cycle.
Sullivan, who is Alaska's commissioner of natural resources and former attorney general, is one of three Republican candidates running to unseat Democratic Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, reports The Hill.
He is facing criticism from both Democrats and Republican opponents about how much time he has spent in Alaska in recent years.
Sullivan moved from Alaska in 1997. He spent most of the next 10 years living in Maryland while working in the Bush administration, where he eventually served under Rice. He was also away for a period of time when he was recalled for active military service.
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In the ad for American Crossroads, Rice responds to the criticism, saying Sullivan is "tireless" in his defense of the United States.
"He showed that in his service in the military, and he showed that in his service in the White House and in the State Department," Rice says in the ad. "Now Dan faces political attacks because he wanted his family by his side. Remember that serving our country required some time in our capital. Dan will be a great senator because he loves and cares for the state of Alaska, and he's a great family man."
American Crossroads is spending $180,000 to air the ad statewide, where Begich is facing what political watchers consider one of the most difficult re-election fights
of any Democratic senator this election cycle.
Sullivan is squaring off against Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, considered by many to be the front-runner in the race, and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller for the Republican nod to face off against Begich, former mayor of Anchorage.
Begich was able to narrowly unseat Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008 after the 40-year incumbent was convicted of felony federal corruption charges. Stevens led on election night in ballots cast, but after all of the absentee ballots were counted, Begich emerged on top by 0.5 percentage point.
Stevens' conviction by a Washington, D.C., jury was eventually thrown out on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct after the Justice Department said prosecutors withheld evidence that would have cleared Stevens, who died in a plane crash in 2010.
Rice has been able to keep a low profile after leaving the State Department when the Bush administration ended, reports The Washington Post.
The midterm elections are bringing her back into the public eye, and she will headline a House GOP fundraiser this week.
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