Candidates start final push as early voting starts

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Monday, October 20, 2014 10:58pm
  • News

JUNEAU — The candidates in Alaska’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race began their final push as early voting in the state began Monday.

Democratic Sen. Mark Begich cast his ballot Monday in Anchorage. His campaign has been urging Alaskans to vote early and Democrats held early voting events around the state.

Begich also announced a new round of ads defending his work as mayor of Anchorage, a job he held before his election, which Mike Anderson, a spokesman for the senator’s GOP rival, Dan Sullivan, called an attempt to rewrite history.

Meanwhile, Sullivan, fresh off a visit to rural Alaska communities, was scheduled to be in Homer and Anchor Point, ahead of a candidate forum Tuesday in Soldotna.

The forum is one of six remaining debates or forums that both have agreed to attend ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

The race is being closely watched because it could help decide control of the Senate. Republicans want to gain six seats nationally and see Begich as vulnerable.

Sullivan has shown a fundraising prowess, bringing in $2.8 million to Begich’s $1.9 million during the latest quarter, while Democrats have focused attention on a ground game that includes 90 paid staff, with about 40 of those in rural communities.

While both parties have picked up registered voters since primary, the biggest gains in registration have been seen among independent voters, the largest voting bloc in the state.

Begich, who announced his debate schedule before the primary, has expressed frustration with what he sees as Sullivan’s reluctance to debate more often. Begich last week shared the stage at a forum for high school students with Libertarian candidate Mark Fish and non-affiliated candidate Ted Gianoutsos.

“People know me,” Begich told supporters during a recent trip to Juneau. “I will go anywhere, I will talk to anybody about the issues we care about and making sure Alaska is protected.”

Sullivan spokesman Thomas Reiker said Sullivan looked forward to the remaining debates to talk about his record and Begich’s record of “voting with Obama.”

That has been a consistent refrain for Republicans, who have sought to make the race a referendum on President Barack Obama and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Obama lost the 2008 and 2012 elections in Alaska by wide margins.

Republicans have seized on a Congressional Quarterly analysis that Begich voted with Obama 97 percent of the time, though groups have cited numbers as low as 91 percent. The 97 percent figure — often cited by rank-and-file Republicans — refers to recorded votes in 2013 in which Obama took a position and many of the votes were on nominations. Begich broke with Obama on increased gun restrictions, according to a breakdown of the votes.

Begich has taken issue with the figure, saying it’s not an accurate reflection of his work, and cast himself as an independent voice, unafraid to stand up to Obama. He also has played up his work with Republican members of Alaska’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who chided him for using her image in some of his ads. Murkowski has endorsed Sullivan.

For their part, Democrats have tried to paint Sullivan as an outsider with rich parents trying to “buy” a Senate seat; Sullivan family members have donated to pro-Sullivan groups.

Sullivan is originally from Ohio but his roots in Alaska, where his wife is from, date to the 1990s. He left Alaska in 2002 for a White House fellowship, military service and work as an assistant Secretary of State, before returning in 2009, when he was appointed state attorney general. In 2010, he became natural resources commissioner, a post he held until his Senate run.

Anderson said Sullivan’s focus in the remaining two weeks will be on issues he’s been touting for months, including energy development and pushing back on federal overreach. He said Sullivan also plans to draw attention to national security issues.

More in News

Tim Navarre, who is running for reelection to Kenai City Council, is photographed at the Peninsula Clarion office in Kenai, Alaska, on Sept. 14, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
The race for Kenai City Council: Tim Navarre

An interview with the current council member

In this Oct. 8, 2019, file photo, from left, Bristol Bay Reserve Association Board member Mike LaRussa, Bristol Bay Native Association President/CEO Ralph Andersen, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association Executive Director Andy Wink, United Tribes of Bristol Bay Deputy Director Lindsay Layland, Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Norm Van Vactor, and Robin Samuelson of Bristol Bay Native Corporation, make statements at the Federal Courthouse in Anchorage. (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
Pebble CEO quits over recorded comments

Collier in the tapes suggested support from the state for the project

Ninilchik Fire Chief David Bear moves the fire truck out of the new Ninilchik Emergency Services building on Aug. 9, 2014, to make room for visitors to the open house of the new NES building. (Homer News file photo)
Proposition 1: What you need to know

Ninilchik, Anchor Point voters to decide on combine fire and EMS service area

Image via Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
SoHi reports COVID-19 case

Close contacts have been notified and are required to quarantine for 14 days.

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)
State reports 5 new central peninsula COVID-19 cases

The tally includes a case associated with Soldotna High School.

Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Sept. 22

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Sept. 22

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

Sullivan: I look forward to seeing who the President nominates

Senator says president has authority to nominate, Senate will take on confirmation responsibilities.

Most Read