Retired Air Force General Joe Ralston, who is a former NATO commander and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded to an ad released on Sunday by the pro-Mark Begich super-PAC, Put Alaska First. The ad questions GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s Alaskan residency.
“It’s disappointing and shameful for anyone to attack Dan for leaving Alaska to serve his country after 9/11,” Ralston, who is a Sullivan supporter, said.
The ad, entitled “Fishy” begins: “Dan Sullivan, his claims of being an Alaskan just got fishier.” It says that Sullivan, while claiming to have been a 10 year resident of the state in 2013, checked the “non-resident” box when applying for a fishing license in 2009. Fish and Game’s rules for residency are different than other residency requirements. To qualify for a resident license, you have to be physically present for a year and not claim residency in another state.
Sullivan moved to Alaska in 1997. He left the state in 2002 to work for the National Security Council. He was called to active duty in the Marines between 2004 to 2006. He then worked for the State Department until 2009, when he moved back to the state to be Alaska’s attorney general, and then the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources.
While away, he owned a house in Maryland, which the ad mentions.
“This is clearly a coordinated effort on the part of national Democrats to attack Republican candidates for their service, and distract from their record of supporting Obamacare and President Obama’s failed agenda,” Sullivan spokesman Mike Anderson said in a statement.
Those who are supporting Begich would be wise to tread carefully here. Republicans will be using any statement by challengers perceived to be anti-veteran. Earlier this month, in another hotly contested Senate race, the right jumped on Arkansas’ Sen. Mark Pryor’s statement that challenger Rep. Tom Cotton is viewing his service in the military as an “entitlement.” Pryor described Cotton’s attitude as, ‘I served my country, let me into the Senate.’”
Pryor, like Begich, is a Democrat running reelection in a red state. Neither are veterans. And their campaigns at times appear to parallel each other. Increasingly, Cotton and Sullivan’s campaigns also have similarities and national groups will likely use similar strategies to advance the candidates.
Sullivan’s campaign released the following timeline of his service:
May 2006—January 2009: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs, Washington, D.C.
December 2004— April 2006: Active Duty Marine Corps, staff officer to CENTCOM Commander General John Abizaid
August 2002—December 2004: Director, International Economics Directorate of the National Security Council and National Economic Council staffs at the White House, Washington, D.C.
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