Saturday, September 27, 2014

AK's Sullivan is Winning (No Surprise)

Dan Sullivan

Election Year 2014 will more likely than not manifest significant gains for the Republican Party.

The Democratic Party is defending one of seven vulnerable incumbents in Alaska: Mark Begich.

The Republican primary featured three candidates: former Attorney General and Alaska Commissioner of Natural Resources against second-time TEA Party challenger judge Joe Miller and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell.

Before the primary, Democratic incumbent Mark Begich was doing fairly well, polling ahead of the three potential challengers in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups.

When Sullivan pulled through the primary on August 19, the numbers starting shifting back to a GOP pick-up in Alaska.

The last five polls have consistently shown Sullivan to be gaining and keeping the upper ground against Begich.

There is no reason to be surprised about this.

Alaska is a deep red state. Sarah Palin, the standard-bearer for the TEA Party movement, won a Republican primary for governor by defeating a family name incumbent (Murkowski), then pushed past the Democratic opposition.

She ran against the Establishment, and won.

Alaska is a rugged territory, difficult for polling, not difficult for identifying conservative values. Even when one looks considers the prior US Senator, Republican King of Earmarks, Ted Stevens (may he rest in peace).

US Senator Ted Stevens (Mug Shot)
Stevens was the longest serving Republican US Senator, and his tenure and experienced in the upper chamber secured federal dollars for his state, including "The Bridge to Nowhere."

Stevens was also caught up in a corruption scandal, later convicted on seven counts of failing to report gifts, including renovations to his Alaska home. Even though convicted barely two weeks before election day, Stevens determined to continue his campaign. The political timing for the case could not have been better for the Democratic Party that year.

After Stevens' indictment and conviction, investigations into the case determined that he had been unjustly targeted, and a federal judge threw out the case in April, 2009.

The judge throwing out the convictions spared little in his criticism:

In nearly 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case.

Mark Begich, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Mark Begich
By then, though, it was too late. Begich had squeaked by against Stevens by less than four thousand votes, beating the longest-serving Republicans US Senator by one percent.

Stevens did not deserve to lose. Sadly, this US Senator would meet an untimely demise in a helicopter crash two years later. If not for the kangaroo court which had unfairly tarnished Stevens, the mayor of Anchorage would have never won the seat. Maybe Sullivan's victory will vindicate Stevens and Alaska voters this year.

One conclusion is certain: Begich never belonged in Washington, and only won  because of the anti-Bush, anti-GOP animus which hurt all candidates running under that banner, plus severe ethical lapses in criminal justice, which incidentally would become the defining standard of the Obama Administration for the next six years.

Six years later, Begich has to explain to voters why he supported the unpopular Affordable Care Act, the Stimulus, and endorsed the malfeasant executives of the Obama Administration. He has to explain his absenteeism in the US Senate, and his weak efforts to promote the Keystone Pipeline.

Like the embattled Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004, Begich has played a conservative-centrist favorite son in Alaska, but big government liberal in Washington, and his record is catching up with.

Dan Sullivan, however, has already caught up and overtaken the former Anchorage mayor, and more, recent polling predictions affirm that not only are Republicans more likely to retake the US Senate, they will accomplish this reversal with a win in Alaska.

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