Tags: Alaska Senate Race | Dan Sullivan | Mark Begich | debates

Alaska Senate Race Heats Up With Candidates Set for Debates

By    |   Wednesday, 01 October 2014 01:36 PM

In the last month before Election Day, Republican Dan Sullivan and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich will face off in seven debates and forums with the first occurring today, The Alaska Dispatch News reports.

The series of debates could prove crucial for both campaigns as multiple polls show Sullivan is gaining ground on Begich, while the GOP candidate is facing new questions about his residency.

A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released Sept. 23 shows Sullivan with a 43 percent to 41 percent lead over Begich, a six-point increase for Sullivan since the PPP's August poll.

More worrisome for Begich is the poll found his disapproval ratings increased from 43 percent in August to 51 percent in the latest survey.

PPP credited Sullivan's gain to "consolidating his support among Republican-leaning voters since winning the primary" and said the contest "remains very much in the toss-up zone."

In addition to the PPP poll, several other surveys placed Sullivan in the lead.

A Sept. 24 poll conducted by Dittman Research for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed Sullivan with a 49 percent to 43 percent lead over Begich.

While Rasmussen Reports had Sullivan at 48 percent and Begich at 43 percent.

While the polls show Sullivan gaining, he continues to face questions about how long he has been a resident of the state.

Sullivan spent a considerable amount of time out of Alaska while serving as a Marine and working at the White House for George W. Bush and also for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a fact the Begich campaign has pointed out throughout the campaign.

The issue received new legs this week when Maryland tax officials confirmed Sullivan claimed his Maryland home as his primary residence from 2006 until 2008, reports KTVA.com.

"Dan Sullivan’s claims have never added up, he’s given five different answers about his residency in a period of five years because he wants to buy Alaska’s Senate seat to represent himself, not Alaskans. From receiving tax breaks on his swanky million dollar Maryland home to skipping debates in Alaska to raise money in Ohio, Dan Sullivan has made it clear: Alaskans can’t trust him," said Begich campaign manager Susanne Fleek-Green in a statement.

In turn, Sullivan's campaign responded that questions of his residency make "abundantly clear he is willing to say or do anything to shamefully distort" the Republican candidate's record.

"Begich's campaign has been one desperate attempt after another to distract from his failed record of telling Alaskans one thing, and then turning around and voting with Barack Obama 97 percent of the time," Sullivan spokesman Mike Anderson told The Hill.

Residency questions have dogged Sullivan, but Begich also has been tainted by 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 of Fire" rating.

Alaska is one of the handful of contests that analysts say could decide who controls the Senate and both political parties, as well as outside groups, are heavily invested in the outcome of the race.

According to The New York Times, Democrat Party committees and affiliated groups have already spent nearly 10 times more than Republicans on campaign staff, and get-out-the-vote effort.

The Alaska state Democratic Party has spent at least $763,687, which amounts to $1.45 for every voting-age resident in the state, according to The Times.

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In the last month before Election Day, Republican Dan Sullivan and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich will face off in seven debates and forums with the first occurring today, The Alaska Dispatch News reports.
Alaska Senate Race, Dan Sullivan, Mark Begich, debates
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 01:36 PM
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