Tags: | Alaska | Senate | Begich | Sullivan

Alaska Senate Race: No Clear Leader after Debate

By    |   Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 12:25 PM

On Wednesday evening, Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan and incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich faced off in a debate on fisheries issues, but neither candidate in the crucial Alaska senate race emerged the victor, reports The Alaska Dispatch News.

The lack of a clear winner typifies the contest which is one of the handful of races that could decide which party controls the Senate after the November midterms.

Prior to the Republican primary, Begich held a lead over Sullivan. However, in recent weeks his advantage disappeared as Sullivan seized momentum and the lead.

A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls taken from August 18 through September 24 gives Sullivan a 4.7 percent advantage. However, their analysis adds that polling in Alaska is "notoriously inaccurate."

Begich was elected to the Senate in 2008, defeating incumbent Republican Ted Stevens by only 3,724 votes, which was a considerably small margin considering that just eight days before election a jury convicted Stevens on campaign finance violations, according to The New Republic.

Stevens was posthumously exonerated of all charges when it was learned the prosecution withheld evidence.

"Control of the Senate largely rests then on whether Begich can convince Alaska’s 498,000 registered voters — of whom only 14 percent are Democrats — that he’s worthy of a second term, that he’s more than just a nice guy who lucked into a big job," writes TNR's John Cloud.

Begich committed an early error by running a controversial ad he ran that falsely accused Sullivan of being culpable in the rape and murder of members of a Cambodian family, Politico reports.

The ad was eventually removed from the airwaves after lawyers for the family sent a cease and desist letter to Begich, but he has never apologized for running the spot.

Politifact said it was a "serious charge based on paper-thin evidence," which warranted it receiving a "Pants on Fire" rating.

Because he has failed to apologize to the family, the ad continues to dog Begich.

The race, however, could be shaped by external factors.

The endorsement of Sullivan by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who remains popular in the state, could help combat Begich's attack on the Republican candidate's position on women's issues, reports The Washington Post.

Murkowski also has appeared in ads on Sullivan's behalf, reports Alaska Public Radio.

Ballot initiatives on marijuana and the minimum wage could impact turnout in Alaska, reports CBS News.

Polling shows the public is mixed on the issue and both sides of the issue have increased their spending on public media campaigns, reports The Alaska Dispatch.

Another unknown is whether the decision by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to refrain from endorsing either candidate in the race will have any impact.

While both Sullivan and Begich support the NRA on most issues, Begich's votes in support of Obama's Supreme Court nominees, Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor cost him the group's endorsement, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told The Fairbanks Daily Miner.

But what could be the deciding factor is turnout, particularly the Democratic Party's superior ground game.

“I expect this to go down to the wire. Unfortunately that favors Begich because he has a better ground game. The Democrats have already knocked on our door four times, and I’m told that’s true throughout Anchorage. Sullivan’s campaign has not hit our door yet,” Republican pollster Marc Hellenthal, told The Hill.

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Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan and incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich faced off in a debate on fisheries issues, but neither candidate in the crucial Alaska senate race emerged the victor, reports The Alaska Dispatch News.
Alaska, Senate, Begich, Sullivan
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2014-25-02
Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 12:25 PM
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