JUNEAU — Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich conceded the Alaska Senate race to Republican Dan Sullivan on Monday, nearly two weeks after the hard-fought election.
Begich said he congratulated Sullivan, a former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner, and urged him “to adopt a bipartisan resolve in the Senate.”
“Alaska is ill-served by the partisan fights that don’t reflect our state’s unique needs and priorities,” Begich said in a statement.
During the campaign, Begich, who rose in the ranks of the Democratic leadership since winning election in 2008, cast himself as an independent voice, unafraid to stand up to President Barack Obama and willing to work across party lines. Republicans, meanwhile, sought to tie Begich to Obama and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, a strategy they used against Democrats in other states in their successful bid to win back control of the Senate.
Sullivan led Begich by about 8,100 votes on election night Nov. 4 and maintained an edge that stood at about 6,200 as of mid-afternoon Monday.
In 2008, Begich won the seat by fewer than 4,000 votes after first trailing then-U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens on election night. In the days following this election, Begich’s campaign said every vote deserved to be counted and that it respected the timetable for counting ballots laid out by the Division of Elections.
Begich said Monday that he put his “record of delivering for Alaska front and center, and it’s why this election was one of the closest races in the country despite over $10 million of attacks from outside groups and their partisan narrative.”
He said he was proud of the work he accomplished, in areas including energy development, veterans’ health care and protecting postal service in Alaska. And he said he was overwhelmed by the support he received.
He said the state deserves a bright future with expanded economic opportunity and a strong, prosperous rural Alaska. He also said he supports equality for all Alaskans. Begich said the results of an election have never diminished his desire to achieve those goals.
Sullivan will join an Alaska delegation that includes Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Republican Rep. Don Young, who was re-elected for a 22nd term.
In a statement, Sullivan said he thanked Begich for his service and the two agreed on the importance of a smooth transition process.
“The responsibility of representing and serving Alaskans comes first,” Sullivan said. “I look forward to doing the job that Alaskans elected me to do, and to begin the process of turning our country around and building a brighter future for Alaska.”