In Alaska, multiple news outlets have declared that Republican Dan Sullivan has defeated incumbent Democrat Mark Begich for the U.S. Senate seat in Alaska.
Sullivan’s win means that the GOP has flipped eight seats from the Democrats in the process of taking control of the Senate. One contest (the Louisiana runoff between Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy) remains to be decided early next month.
Dan Sullivan, a lieutenant colonel in the US. Marines and who held several high-level civilian positions in the federal government, previously served as Alaska’s attorney general and natural resources commissioner.
Begich has yet to concede the election, however.
According to Politico, “Begich’s narrow 2008 victory, in which absentee ballots provided a decisive, 7,000-vote turnaround in his favor, was cited by the Begich camp as a cause for hope — even as Sullivan led by more than 8,000 votes on Election Night.”
Although ballot counting is ongoing, AP has deemed Sullivan’s lead in the vote count as insurmountable, however.
Said Sullivan in a statement, “I’m deeply humbled and honored to be chosen by my fellow Alaskans to serve them in the United States Senate. From day one we told our supporters that we would run a campaign that Alaskans could be proud of, and that’s what we did.”
Many political observers have claimed a Begich TV commercial (subsequently retracted) that falsely accused Sullivan of being soft on crime backfired on the incumbent and served as the turning point in the campaign.
Begich’s victory six years ago was something of a fluke in the generally red state.
“Begich barely pulled out a one-point victory in 2008 over long-time Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Stevens, who was convicted eight days before the election on seven felony accounts. And that was in a year that was good for Democrats across the country,” NBC News explained.
Had Sen. Stevens stepped down in favor of another candidate once his legal issues emerged, Begich likely would not have been elected.
A federal judge later tossed out the Stevens conviction on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. The longest-serving Republican senator in history and a decorated World War II pilot, Stevens tragically died in a private plane crash in August 2010.
A career politician, Begich was the 60th vote (as was every Democrat in the Senate at the time) needed to overcome a filibuster and pass Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act. Public dissatisfaction with Obamacare partially explained the Republican landslide last Tuesday that conveyed control of the Senate to the GOP and increased its hold on the House.
The governor’s race in Alaska has yet to be called. Republican-turned-independent Bill Walker leads incumbent GOP Gov. Sean Parnell by several thousand votes.
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