Tag Archives: dan sullivan

Crossroads brings VA scandal to Alaska Senate campaign

The ad below by Crossroads GPS, one of the groups founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, brings the Veterans Affairs mess to the Alaska Senate campaign. The ad, which began airing in Alaska on Wednesday, says that Begich, who sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee, hasn’t done enough to fix the problems with the VA system. The ad was released on the same day as a devastating preliminary report by the Veterans Affairs inspector general which found that vets in Arizona waited on average 115 days, which ran counter to reports that they were getting help sooner.

The inspector general, however, said that it was premature to link allegations that dozens of vets died waiting for care. The probe has expanded from 26 facilities to 42. So far at least, it appears that Alaska’s VA system has been spared from the problems plaguing other systems across the country.

GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan called for the firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki earlier this month and again on Wednesday.

“The newly-released Inspector General report further confirms that the disgraceful failures at the Veterans Administration are systemic and require accountability and a change in administration,” he said, noting that none of the Democrats who sit on the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs have called for Shinseki’s firing.

In any case, the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) told CNN on Wednesday that the Crossroads ad was “not appropriate,” and that the issue was a bipartisan one that shouldn’t be used in campaigns.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Begich mocks GOP candidate Sullivan in new ad

Of all the ads so far attacking U. S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, this one, from Sen. Mark Begich himself, is the most biting and probably the most effective.

Some background: Sullivan recently released an ad where he stands atop the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center and says that Alaska needs “real results, not just talk.” The issue: the convention center was built while Begich was Anchorage mayor, and Begich touts it as one of his biggest achievements. Hence the ad. Ouch.



New Sullivan ad touts Cook Inlet gas

Below is U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s latest ad focusing on natural gas production in the Cook Inlet. In the ad, Sullivan is taking credit for helping bring to life what was considered a “dead” basin. “Companies were leaving. Energy production was declining” he says. “But instead of giving up, we stood strong and turned this basin into a source of new energy for Alaska. Creating jobs and opportunity, increasing investment in energy security for Alaskans.”

All of that is true, technically. There is a lot of optimism about future gas supplies, and much of the reason for the optimism results from a bill, penned with Sullivan’s help, in 2010 that gave generous tax incentives to companies to explore for gas in the basin. That said, as of yet, there’s been no overall net increase in the production in the Inlet. In fact, from 2003 to 2010, production has dropped nearly in half, from about 202 million MCF to 130 million MCF, according to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. In 2013, it dropped to a precariously low 107 million MCF. However, there is a tremendous amount of activity in the Cook Inlet that wasn’t there before 2010. And going from exploration to production can take years.


New group forms to counter Koch brothers

American Bridge 21st Century– the group that has hired that guy to come up and follow GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan around with a camera – announced a new national digital/research/rapid-response project aimed at the Koch brothers and those who the brothers are supporting.

Here’s the YouTube ad that went out with the announcement of the group’s formation:

According to a memo leaked to Politico, the Koch brothers funded political arm, Americans for Prosperity, intends to spend $125 million on the upcoming midterm elections. Americans for Prosperity has already spent $2.5 million attacking U.S. Sen. Mark Begich. It gets confusing, however, because Begich himself is the only Senate candidate, including among the three Republican challengers, to whom the Koch brothers have donated. In 2010, they gave his leadership PAC $5,000.

David Brock, the founder of American Bridge, called the group’s new effort a “research-and-communications, first-of-its-kind war room that’s targeting the Koch brothers and also the GOP candidates who are benefiting from their … spending.”

In related Koch brothers news, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday called for amending the U.S. Constitution to bar big money donors, like the Koch brothers, from unlimited donations to super-PACs.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


U.S. Senate candidate Mead Treadwell hires communications director

It appears that despite rumors that he was going to drop out of the primary, Republican Lt. Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Mead Treadwell is digging in. On Tuesday, Treadwell announced that his campaign has hired Tom Intorcio to serve as communications director.

Intorcio is no novice. He’s worked for Republican congressmen, was an Iowa field rep for Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign, and a field coordinator for President Bush’s 2004 campaign. He’s also been affiliated with a Patriot Voices, a grassroots group devoted to “liberty.” Watch him here talking about the group. Word is that the hire has been in the works for awhile.

According to two recent polls, Treadwell’s numbers have been falling while Dan Sullivan’s have been rising. A PPP poll released on Tuesday shows that among 313 Republican primary voters surveyed, Sullivan has a 14 point lead over Treadwell: 40 percent for Sullivan and 26 percent for Treadwell. Joe Miller, the other challenger, is falling in the polls with only 14 percent of GOP primary voters saying that they’d vote for him in August.

All of them lose to Sen. Mark Begich in the general, however. The poll, which surveyed 582 general election voters, has Sullivan losing by 5 points, Treadwell losing by 8 and Miller by 16 percentage points.

PPP is a Democratic leaning firm, and uses robo-calls to conduct its polls and has been suspect in the past. However, the numbers are fairly consistent with a poll paid for by Sullivan released in early May that used live interviewers.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Pro-Begich super-PAC said to be making a more than $4 million media buy

A reliable source says that Put Alaska First, the pro-Mark Begich super-PAC, is spending more than $4 million dollars, and as much as $4.6 million, on television ads throughout the state for spots in the last eight weeks of the campaign. If true, it will be the single biggest media buy in Alaska history.

Anchorage based Jim Lottsfeldt, who runs the PAC, declined to comment on the amount. He did say however, that “We’re in it to win it.”

If that number turns out to be correct, the total super-PAC spend will be upwards of $7 million so far, and it’s only May. The front-runner in the Republican race, Dan Sullivan, has raised more than Begich in the last two quarters. But none of the groups directly supporting him so far have spent nearly that amount.

Sullivan’s spokesperson, Mike Anderson, responded to news with the following statement:

“Assuming that Harry Reid and his liberal allies in Washington are going to spend over $4 million of outside money to support Mark Begich’s campaign it explains why Senator Begich has voted with President Obama 97 percent of the time. It also begs the question for Alaskans: what will Mark Begich owe them for this DC political bailout?”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com

Clarification: The original story said that Sullivan has out-raised Begich. That’s only true for the two fundraising quarters that Sullivan has been in the race. 


Senate poll: GOP candidate Sullivan ahead of primary pack, even with Begich

A new poll, first released at the Alaska Republican Party annual convention in Juneau, shows that GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan has a double-digit lead against the two other GOP contenders in the race, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller, with a large percent still undecided. It also finds that Alaska’s view of Sen. Mark Begich’s positive image has “tumbled” over the past months. As of the end of April when the poll was conducted, Begich was only two percentage points ahead of Sullivan in a general election.

The poll was conducted by Portland-based Moore Information, and was paid for by Sullivan.  It was conducted April 27-28, in 500 live interviews on both landline and cell phone. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent. Moore is associated with Republicans and has a long history for polling for Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young. The firm also polled for the late Sen. Ted Stevens.

The last time the firm polled early this year, Sullivan polled two percentage points behind Treadwell and ten points ahead of Joe Miller. By the end of April, however, 38 percent of primary voters were going to vote for Sullivan, while Treadwell would get 22 percent and Miller 12 percent. However, 29 percent of primary voters are still undecided, leaving lots of room for Treadwell and Miller to pick up support.

According to the poll, Begich’s positive image went from a net +17 positive to a net +5 today. “The more voters learn about Mark Begich and his ties to the Obama agenda, the less likely they are to hold a favorable impression of him and, conversely, the more likely to hold a negative opinion of him,” Moore’s Senior Vice President Hans Kaiser wrote in a narrative accompanying the poll.

Kaiser wrote that Begich’s vote on ObamaCare appears to be his most serious liability. Among undecided voters, 56 percent are less likely to vote for a candidate who supported Obamacare. More bad news for Begich: only 24 percent had a positive view of Obama while 63 percent had a negative view.

However, it’s impossible to say what those numbers really mean as the chart accompanying the poll didn’t show the total percentage points of undecided voters in the general election.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Anti-Begich ad likely first ever to use term ‘erectile dysfunction’

Anchorage-based adman Art Hackney isn’t known for making ads that are overly cautious. One of his most famous ones was about a gas reserves tax on the ballot in 2006. It starred himself holding a handgun, which he pointed downward and pulled the trigger. Cut to a still-smoking boot with a bullet hole through it. His most recent radio ad is pure Hackney, and is probably the very first ad for Senate in the country to use the term “erectile dysfunction.” Hackney runs the pro-Dan Sullivan super-PAC, Alaska’s Energy-America’s Values. In the ad, he rifts off of recent Begich commercials which show him zooming through the North Slope on a snowmachine, set to the backdrop music that Hackney describes as “straight out of an erectile dysfunction ad.” Listen to that one here. The other ad that he produced takes on Begich’s time as Anchorage mayor and continues with the “Malarkey Mark” theme Hackney began earlier this year. Listen to that here.
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State-wide candidates try to connect with kids and seniors at forum

AARP Alaska, along with Anchorage middle schools, hosted both a gubernatorial and senatorial forum on Wednesday. About 100 people showed, most of whom were middle school students and the questions were written by them.  First up: The three candidates for governor—Democrat Byron Mallott, independent Bill Walker, and incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, who answered about 45 minutes worth of questions ranging from education, resource development, social security and healthcare. Many of the students were engaged, at least initially and were trying to understand. Others weren’t and couldn’t,

This was the second gubernatorial forum of the week. On Monday, the event was hosted by the Anchorage Chamber, and allowed for more back and forth, along with slight tension between Walker and Parnell, mostly over the natural gas pipeline. Walker doesn’t believe that the current plan in the works will get a gasline built. At the forum on Wednesday, Walker again lamented all the wasted years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying the gasline, and Parnell again said that the state is closer than ever.

But there was no heat in the exchanges. The candidates were limited to 60 second answers. Of all the candidates, the format suited Mallott the best, who has so far focused on generalities and platitudes and has shied far from specifics. About as specific as he got was when he said that his first act as governor would be to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, something that Parnell rejected. Walker said he would also expand the program, as long as he was assured that the feds would pick up 100 percent of the tab.

Parnell told the crowd, that those who would qualify for Medicaid already get access to primary care and emergency rooms “free of charge.”

If they hadn’t before, this is probably where they lost the children.

The group of 10 or so that I talked to after said that they didn’t understand a lot. One of them said they liked that Mallott talked more than the others about education. A few of them said that Walker seemed confident. Most of them said that they liked Parnell and felt more comfortable with him than with the others.

Up next was the GOP Senate forum, featuring Joe Miller, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and Dan Sullivan. This, too, was this group’s second time meeting. The last, moderated by KTUU Channel 2’s Steve MacDonald, wasn’t live, and lacked energy, at least the kind of energy that Sullivan appears to feed on. This one also contained few fireworks. The candidates spoke about federal government overreach, about honoring our vets, and about social security.

Miller said that he would work to privatize the program for those under 50 years old, which likely didn’t go well with the seniors in the group. The two others talked around the issue, but didn’t, like Miller, address it head on. Treadwell said that we’ve got to be “flexible,” when thinking about how to save social security. Sullivan said that when the country elects “serious leaders” there’s an “opportunity for serious reform.” He didn’t elaborate.

All three candidates oppose federal government overreach. All said they would focus on the youth. And all agreed that the minimum wage hike that’s being debated in Congress should be left up to individual states.

After it was over, the kids didn’t remember much of what they said, and were mostly stymied when I asked which one they thought did the best job. One said that they thought Treadwell’s experience was important. A few of the more outspoken ones said that Sullivan connected most with the audience. All of them remembered when Sullivan asked for a show of hands of all those who had done their homework the night before.

After about half the room raised them, he said that the passing of ObamaCare was a great example of legislators not doing their homework. “It was legislative malpractice,” he said. “Not healthcare form.”

One of the students after said she was surprised how few of her peers didn’t do their homework. She also said that she had wished social issues, like gay marriage, had been discussed.

Another said that he had heard a lot about ObamaCare. Then again, he was U.S. Rep. Don Young’s grandchild. His grandfather comes over for dinner a lot, he said, and talks a lot.

“About politics?” I asked.

Yes, the boy said. A lot about ObamaCare.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Treadwell announces another poor fundraising quarter

On Friday, GOP Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell announced that he raised $124,000 during the first quarter of the year, which runs from January through March. He also put in $175,000 of his own money because, “Alaskans deserve a Senator who has worked in and served our state for four decades, and one who understands the unique challenges we face,” he said in a release.

The Alaska Dispatch reported that Treadwell had $140,000 cash on hand. Joe Miller, another GOP candidate, announced that he raised $101,000 during the same quarter and has $300,000 cash on hand, much of which is money rolled over from his 2010 run. Miller is running a much different, much more grassroots campaign than is Treadwell, and has the tea party faithful faithfully behind him. Miller officially announces his candidacy on Monday.

The other Republican candidate, former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan, clearly the establishment’s choice, raised a whopping $1.4 million and has just under $2 million cash on hand, even though he’s been in the race for far less time than has Treadwell. Treadwell set up an exploratory committee in December 2012, and officially announced last June. Sullivan skipped the exploratory phase and officially announced in October.

Fundraising has not been Treadwell’s strong suit. And it’s not for lack of trying. He crisscrossed the country in 2013 trying to raise money. According to documents given to me, he had at least 15 fundraisers in the Lower 48, not including the numerous events he’s had in Alaska. In September, he hired high-powered, D.C.-based Lisa Spies to help him raise funds. She is now said to have left the campaign, as has most of Treadwell’s paid staff, including a campaign manager and two spokespeople. Most recently, Fred Brown left the campaign to work for the RNC in Arkansas.

Word is that Treadwell is getting pressure from some national Republicans to drop out of the race, and to support Sullivan. However, he has said that he has no plans to do so, and that he’s convinced that if he can get through the primary, he can leverage his 40 years of experience in Alaska and win the race.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Joe Miller’s fundraising is looking up–reports $101,000 in 1st quarter

GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller reported raising $101,000 in the first quarter of the year, which ran from January to March. It’s a significant increase from the $30,490 he raised in the last fundraising quarter. No loans have been made to the campaign, he says, and he has $300,000 cash on hand, much of which was rolled over from his 2010 run.

Miller will make an official campaign announcement on April 21.

Dan Sullivan, his primary challenger, reported raising $1.4 million in the quarter. Mead Treadwell has yet to release his numbers. Sen. Mark Begich raised a little more than a $1 million.

Unlike Sullivan, Miller is running a grassroots campaign. He’s meeting with small groups, mostly in Fairbanks, were he lives, and in the Valley, where his support is strong.

In a press release, Miller’s campaign reminds people that money doesn’t buy elections. “In the 2010 primary election, Miller won the Republican Party nomination against the incumbent senator with approximately $300,000,” the release says. “In mid-July of 2010, about a month from Election Day, the senator reported over $2 million on-hand to Miller’s $125,000.”

That incumbent senator is Lisa Murkowski, who lost to Miller in the primary, but won in the general in a write-in campaign.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Begich goes after Sullivan for Club for Growth endorsement

On the heels of a Politico story about the Club for Growth, Sen. Mark Begich’s reelection campaign is once again questioning the fiscally conservative group’s March endorsement of GOP candidate Dan Sullivan. The endorsement is coveted by many Republican candidates, not the least because it come with lots of money.

“Sullivan hasn’t shared any details with Alaskans about how he acquired the endorsement or how much cash it will produce, but he is ‘honored’ to have the nod from a group that aims to privatize Social Security and voucherize Medicare,” Begich spokesman Max Croes wrote in a release.

The Politico story details the powerful group’s endorsement process, which one candidate who received the endorsement described as “baptism by fire,” and others who didn’t get the endorsement in less polite terms.

Sullivan’s spokesman Mike Anderson said that Sullivan had an interview with the Club prior to the endorsement, but he didn’t know what was talked about and Sullivan wasn’t immediately available to comment. “I wasn’t in the room, but I’m sure Dan said he would open ANWR, get a road from King Cove to Cold Bay, fully develop the NPR-A, grow the economy and repeal ObamaCare,” Anderson said.

Many groups endorse, and an interview process often is involved. According to the article, however, getting the Club for Growth’s endorsement is particularly arduous and appears to demand that its candidates be ideologically pure by committing to low taxes, and reducing the kind of federal spending on which Alaska depends.The Club for Growth endorsed Joe Miller over Lisa Murkowski in 2010. It also picked Sean Parnell over Rep. Don Young in 2008, when Young called the group “one of the most extreme groups in Washington D.C.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Single women could decide the makeup of U.S. Senate

A Washington D.C. nonprofit teamed up with pollster Celinda Lake, who is also Sen. Mark Begich’s pollster, to study voter behavior in Alaska. A report released Monday suggests that Alaska’s unmarried women, people of color and voters aged 18-29 could determine who wins the U.S. Senate race in Alaska. However, these voters are less likely than others to vote, and it’s going to take work to get them to the polls in November.

According to the Voter Participation Center, about 23,000 of these voters could stay home this election year, as compared to 2012. The total voting block, combined with other Alaskans who are likely to stay home, could be as many as 25,000 votes in the 2014 election. Given Alaska’s history of close elections, this could easily be the voting block that could decide the race.

According to the Washington Post, the national Democrats are paying particular close attention to unmarried women who are eligible to vote, a pool that’s increased by 19 percent since 2000. By contrast, the pool of married women only grew 7 percent during that time. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is building a national computer model to find and hopefully sway single women.

Neither the Alaska Democratic Party nor the Begich campaign knew about a similar effort by any Democratic group in Alaska. However, Begich has been busy reaching out to both women and minority voters in the state.

“Women for Begich” groups across the state have been meeting. Begich is the only pro-choice candidate running for Senate. The three Republican challengers, Dan Sullivan, Mead Treadwell, and Joe Miller have all claimed the pro-life mantle. And all three of them have said at one time or the other that the abortion issue would factor into a decision to confirm a candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Too, in a radio interview with conservative talk show host Glen Biegel, Sullivan appears to support allowing corporations to decide if they will provide contraceptives as part of their health care policies, characterizing a mandate to do so under the Affordable Care Act as an “attack on religious liberty.” That mandate is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court.

Begich has also been reaching out to minority groups in Alaska. Last weekend alone, he met with groups from the Chinese, Hmong, Hispanic, Filipino, Korean, Polynesian, and Cambodian communities.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Sullivan’s new radio ad defends against residency attacks

U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan released a radio ad on Tuesday entitled, “Fighter.” In the ad, Sullivan talks about his time in Alaska as the state’s attorney general. But the bulk of the ad is spent defending himself against questions surrounding his residency.

“After the September 11th terrorist attacks, my Marine Recon unit in Alaska did not get deployed. So like hundreds of my fellow Alaskans, I sought other ways to defend our country,” Sullivan says. “Although it meant my family had to leave our home in Alaska, I was honored to serve in the White House and State Department under Condoleezza Rice as part of the war on terror, and was later recalled to active duty by the Marine Corps.”

Put Alaska First, a pro-Begich super-PAC, recently bought $72,613 of more air time for its commercial questioning Sullivan’s residency claims. Anchorage resident Jim Lottsfeldt, who’s running the PAC said on Monday that the group is putting the money into ad “because it’s a good idea.”

Sullivan moved to Alaska in 1997, where he practiced law until moving to D.C. in 2002. He moved back to Alaska in 2009 to be the state’s attorney general.

The ad ends with a line that’s emerging as a theme in Sullivan’s campaign: “I’m Lt. Colonel Dan Sullivan, and I approve this message because Alaskans need a fighter again in the United States Senate.”

Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


GOP Senate candidate Sullivan doubles down on repeal of ObamaCare

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday that more than 6 million people across the country, including more than 6,000 Alaskans, have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the act that all three GOP senate candidates have vowed to work to repeal if they were elected to office. Enrollment is surging as the initial deadline to sign up approaches.

Candidate Dan Sullivan again sent out a press release, doubling down on his promise to work to repeal ObamaCare if elected.

What would happen to those more than 6 million who have signed up? Who knows? What would it be replaced with? Market based reforms, he said, but he shied from specifics. Tort reform is one such solution that’s often talked about in Republican circles. But most states have enacted some form of tort reform and it hasn’t helped. Alaska passed tort reform in 1997, and according to the American Medical Association, Alaska was one of five states where, between 1998 and 2007, an increase in population did not lead to a proportional increase in the number of doctors.

Buying insurance across state lines, is another GOP idea. It sounds good. Except experts roll their eyes when you mention it. Alaska has the highest medical costs of any place in the country, and we’re a sick bunch to boot. No reputable insurance company based in Virginia, say, or Delaware, who doesn’t already have a presence in this state is going to want to take Alaskans on.

If Sullivan focused on this issue, he might join the group of more thoughtful lawmakers who are talking about finding fixes for the law, fixes that wouldn’t leave those 6 million and many millions more who have yet to sign up, out in the cold.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com