Tag Archives: mark begich

American Crossroads attacks Begich’s commitment to veterans

A day after U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan called for Sen. Mark Begich to agree to try to put an end to third-party ads, American Crossroads released the following ad, accusing Begich of not taking enough action on veterans healthcare. The new ad will air statewide for a total buy of $450,000. It started on Wednesday.

“Begich likes to use his position on the Veterans Affairs Committee to score political points when he’s in Alaska, but he continues to sit on the sidelines when it comes to holding President Obama and the VA leadership accountable in Washington,” said Art Hackney, well known Anchorage-based adman and strategist for Crossroads.

Begich’s campaign responded:

Begich has widespread support from the Alaska veteran community. Begich also sits on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee where he successfully facilitated an agreement between the VA and tribal health facilities to allow veterans to receive care closer to home, helping to significantly cut down on VA wait times in Alaska.

The Senate passed a $50 billion VA health care bill on Wednesday night, largely mirroring similar proposals from the House. Begich was in D.C. and voted for the bill.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


More on the Young video blasting Begich

I found out a few things about the video of U.S. Rep. Don Young accusing U.S. Sen. Mark Begich of taking undue credit on projects that involved the entire congressional delegation. The voice on the video asking Young the question about Begich belongs to Fairbanks DJ Tim Palmer, who was working with Moving Images, a Fairbanks production company that has worked on Young’s campaigns in the past. Palmer said that he wasn’t at the airport, but spoke the question into the microphone from his computer and had not seen the final product until I pointed it out to him.

A recent fundraising letter from Young also appears to be attacking Begich. Here’s the relevant passage:

It is imperative we retain a Republican majority in the House and return the U.S. Senate to Republican control. I remind you the state’s junior senator has voted with this president 97% of the time. The president, along with cohorts like Harry Reid, has pitted Alaskan against Alaskan and American against American.

The active campaigning by Young against Begich is surprising given that about five months ago, Young had good things to say about Begich.

“Mark’s done a great job of very frankly representing people. He’s not always on my page, that’s for sure, but he’s done a good job,’ Young told The Hill in January.

The comment caused a stir in Republican circles, but Young didn’t back down. A few weeks later, he told the Alaska Dispatch that Begich has been “good in the energy industry, and I think that’s smart — that’s where we’re getting most of our income in the state.”

“So far so good,” Young said about Begich then.

When asked about the video, his campaign spokesperson sent the following statement:

In recent weeks, Congressman Young has received several requests to comment on Senator Begich’s statements regarding accomplishments in which he has taken sole credit. In the past, Alaska’s Congressional delegation has always prided itself on working together and Congressman Young believes that should continue.

Side note: Due to technical problems, comments on the blocked are for now. I’m working on it and trying to get the comment section back up, hopefully by tonight.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Young blasts Begich for taking undeserved credit

The video below was brought to my attention from a source who does not want Sen. Mark Begich reelected. I’m putting it up because it’s on Rep. Don Young’s official campaign channel and it’s in the public domain. Fair warning: I know it’s Young talking and I know his words are unaltered. I’m told that it was shot last week in Fairbanks while Young was campaigning. But I don’t know who asked the question or who’s holding the camera.

Young is referring to Begich’s claims in recent ads about a road in NPR-A, and about his role in other projects across the state. I’ve been hearing grumblings for years from some of both Young and Murkowski staffers about Begich taking full credit for things that he had but a part. And that might be true, but I’m not in D.C., and it’s nearly impossible to know which congressional member should get credit for what. I do know that contrary to what Young says in the video, Begich should get credit for getting the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center built. As mayor of Anchorage, he fought tirelessly for the convention center. In any case, it’s the most explosive video yet of the campaign season. Young is popular in Alaska, and this will not help Begich’s campaign.

I also know that to the extent there’s been a détente between Young and Begich, that’s probably over, for now at least.

This just in from Begich’s spokesperson Max Croes:

Congressman Young and Senator Begich had known each other for a long time and have a strong working relationship.  Along with Senator Murkowski, they have been able to rack up big accomplishments for Alaska. The combined seniority of Alaska’s team will continue to bring new jobs, oil and gas development, and infrastructure investments for Alaska.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


GOP Senate hopeful Sullivan calls on Begich to sign pledge limiting Outside spending

In a bold move that surprised many, this writer included, GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan on Tuesday announced a plan to try to counter the influence of third party money in Alaska’s Senate race. First, he asked U.S. Sen. Mark Begich to call on third party spending groups, including super-PACS, to cease all television and radio ads which “clearly identifies either of us and supports or attacks our campaigns.” And if the groups don’t obey, Sullivan wants Begich to agree to donate 50 percent of an individual ad buy to the charity of the opposing candidate’s choice.

Sullivan called it “The Alaska Agreement.”

The money that each candidate raises on his own would not be subject to the deal.

“We’re confident in our ability to go mano-a-mano with Mark Begich,” Sullivan said, referring to direct candidate contributions. That said, Sullivan said that he supports Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that allowed unlimited PAC money into races such as this one.

A similar plan to what Sullivan is proposing has worked elsewhere. In the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race, Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown agreed to the “People’s Pledge,” It worked to cut outside spending to about one-tenth of what the candidates themselves spent.

In the Alaska Senate race alone, campaign spending placed on TV and radio has now exceeded $20 million from February through election day in November. This leaves little, if any, airtime for other races, including the governor’s race.

As of this writing, it’s unclear if Begich will sign the agreement. If he doesn’t, it will make it more difficult to decry Outside spending and super-PAC money, something that he’s done no less than 100 times in fundraising emails and press releases, even as his own campaign has greatly benefited from such spending.

I’m trailing Sullivan today in the Valley and this will definitely come up. I’ll have more later.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Another day, another Senate ad

From the Sunday New York Times piece about the Alaska Senate race:

Political ads are ubiquitous here already. They have run on Alaska airwaves nearly 20,000 times since early last year, according to Kantar Media, a monitoring and research firm. That is more than in North Carolina (18,000), Arkansas (13,000) and Louisiana (12,000), all of which are conservative states where Republicans believe they can pick off Democratic incumbents.

And as if on cue, here’s another ad. This one’s from GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, who, after months of silence, appears to be on a roll.

This ad is supposed to be a counter to a recent one by Put Alaska First, a pro-Begich super-PAC, which attacks Sullivan HB 77, one of the most controversial bills introduced in the state Legislature recently. The rap on it is that it proposed to give unprecedented powers to the DNR commissioner to issue permits. At the time of its drafting, Dan Sullivan was the DNR commissioner.

The ad, however, pivots away from HB 77, and instead focuses on federal gun control laws.

Smart, maybe.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan returns favor and fires back at Begich

Sen. Mark Begich, as well as the super-PAC that supports him, have repeatedly gone after GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan for everything from residency questions to support of a permitting bill. In an ad released last week, Begich mocked Sullivan for a commercial Sullivan shot atop the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, which was built during Begich’s tenure as mayor of Anchorage, and which he considered one of his crowing achievements. Begich then offers Sullivan advice on other sites he might consider for future ads.

Sullivan accepts the advice and fires back at Begich for the first time. The results are pretty good. And for the first time, Sullivan appears relaxed, proves that he has a personality, and seems to be having fun on camera.


Republicans hitting Begich over new EPA climate change rules

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will be launching robo-calls beginning on Tuesday that target U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s alleged support for cap and trade. (Listen to the recording of the call here.)

The RNSC’s effort is on the heels of the Obama Administration’s EPA announcement that the agency is proposing new sweeping rules to target coal plants and cut carbon emissions by 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. If passed, much of that reduction will be done through a cap and trade plan that will be left up to the individual states.

“It’s not surprising Mark Begich stands by Barack Obama’s costly regulations, because he supported the same cap-and-trade energy tax plan as Obama,” the robo-call will say. “A cap-and-trade energy tax could have killed almost 6,000 Alaska jobs, and reduced disposable income for Alaskan households by more than $1,200.”

The numbers are questionable, as is the charge that Begich supports cap and trade at all. It’s something that he’s consistently denied, and the record is fuzzy.

But what is true is that if the regulations take effect, cap and trade will be a major compliance tool used by states elsewhere. Alaska has an alternative program, so it won’t be used here. But the state’s power plants and coal industry will be affected by the rules.

What’s also true is that in 2010, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is highly critical of the rule, offered a resolution to stop the EPA from promulgating such regulations. The resolution needed 51 votes. She got 47 votes for it. Begich voted against it. In fact, he gave it a thumbs down on the Senate floor.

A statement by Begich’s press secretary at the time said that he didn’t vote for it because nothing was going to happen immediately. “Some regulations will not go into effect until 2016,” the press secretary wrote. At the time, Begich seemed sure that lawmakers could formulate an energy policy that would make the EPA rule moot.

The draft proposal will now be subject to a 120-day public comment period and will not be finalized until at least June 2015. States will have to submit plans by June 2016.

The issue is likely to haunt Begich throughout the campaign, as well as other Democratic Senators up for reelection in red states.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Alaska Conservation Voters form pro-Begich super-PAC

Alaska Conservation Voters have formed a super-PAC, named SalmonPAC, to help get U.S. Sen. Mark Begich reelected. The super-PAC is planning to use 30 staff and spend $1.1 million going door-to-door and on direct mailers. It has no plans to buy radio or TV spots, its treasure Andy Moderow, said. For the past months, Alaska Conservation Voters have been running a steady stream of commercials thanking Begich for his work on fisheries. Because the ads do not mention the race or directly tell voters how to vote, they are considered “issue ads” and don’t have to be reported as campaign ads.

From the group’s press release:

Senator Begich has an important track record of independent leadership for Alaska in the United States Senate. From his strong opposition to the Pebble mine through his work protecting wild salmon runs and consumers alike from genetically modified fish, he has been a salmon champion that’s shown the kind of leadership Alaska needs in the years to come.


Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki resigns

Amid increasing pressure from first Republicans and then Democratic lawmakers, President Barack Obama said Friday that he had accepted the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

“I want to reiterate: he is a very good man,” Obama said, but the secretary came to believe that “he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction.”

Shinseki had been under fire from the VA scandal that left hundreds of veterans waiting for healthcare for hundreds of days. In Alaska, GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan has been pressuring Sen. Mark Begich to call for Shinseki’s resignation after a preliminary report was released this week that detailed problems with the VA.

Begich sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee.

This week, Sullivan’s campaign put out a series of releases about Begich and Shinseki, calling Begich, among other things, “derelict” for not demanding Shinseki’s resignation.

On Thursday, Begich held a press conference and called the scandal “unacceptable and outrageous,” and said that he was doing everything in his power to fix the situation. However, he said that he was going to wait until a final report was released before deciding whether or not to call for Shinseki’s resignation.

This week also Kark Rove’s super-PAC, Crossroads, had started running ads tying Begich to the scandal.

The pressure on Begich wasn’t likely the sole reason for Shinseki’s resignation, but it probably added to the decision, as did pressure the administration was feeling from other Senate Democrats, some of them up for reelection.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


API president gives rousing speech on Alaska’s oil and gas industry

The Alaska Oil and Gas Association had its annual luncheon on Thursday. About 1000 people attended. The theme, naturally, was how much the oil and gas business contributes to the state’s economy–see some numbers below–and how important it is to keep a competitive fiscal regime going in the state. You couldn’t toss a stone without hitting a politician. Even Sen. Hollis French showed for the event.

The keynote speaker was Jack Gerard. Gerard is the president of the American Petroleum Institute, and is considered one of the most aggressive oil and gas players in D.C. He has turned API from a relatively sleepy trade association into a political powerhouse.

On Tuesday, he met with Sen. Mark Begich to discuss Alaska’s resources, an event that Begich touted in a release. Begich claimed that he brought Gerard to Alaska, something that people in the know dispute. Begich also listed Gerard as the host to a fundraiser on Tuesday. Shortly after he sent out the email, another invite was sent without Gerard’s name on it. Take from that what you will.

That said, in his speech, Gerard emphasized the importance of Alaska’s bipartisan delegation.

“Alaska’s bipartisan support for Keystone and on other important energy issues sends an important signal that when it comes to energy, there is no place for partisanship or narrow-minded orthodoxy,” he said.

Gerard also talked about the importance of keeping in place the current tax regime, and warned what would happen if it’s repealed. From his speech, as written:

Here in Alaska and around the nation there are those who are of the opinion that no matter what policy or regulation is imposed on our industry we will pay it and we will bear it in order to develop the energy this nation and the world needs. They are wrong. To those who think that policy doesn’t matter when it comes to energy development, I’d suggest that they look at the consequences of that attitude in Alaska. I would remind them that Alaska’s oil and natural gas deposits account for almost 30 percent of the nation’s energy reserves, and yet today the state’s energy production accounts for approximately 7 percent of U.S. production down from a high of 25 percent in 1989. In recent decades, Alaska has been the highest or second highest producing state of crude oil. Today Alaska ranks fourth … slipping behind North Dakota and California. When you look across this U.S. today at this great energy renaissance — every oil and gas producing state except Alaska — has increased production.

  • North Dakota: up 58%.
  • Texas: up 36%.
  • Colorado: up 25%
  • Alaska’s North Slope: Down 6.6%

“Vote No on 1 in August,” he said.

Here’s some numbers on Alaska’s oil and gas industry according to a new study from the McDowell Group:

  • Government spending of oil revenue accounted for 60,000 jobs and $3 billion in wages (direct, indirect and induced) in Alaska’s economy in 2013.
  • The industry accounted for 33 percent of all wage and salary employment in Alaska (111,000 jobs out of total of 335,000 jobs) and 38 percent of all wages ($6.45 billion in wages out of a total of $17.1 billion).
  • Since 1959, 88 percent of all state revenue from natural resource development (including seafood, mining, and timber taxes and royalties, and the applicable portion of state corporate income tax) came from oil and gas development.
  • In FY2013, the oil and gas industry paid $7.4 billion in taxes and royalties to state government.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


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.



Mallott and Begich will team to hire 52 new staffers in rural Alaska

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott’s campaign manager said on Monday night that Mallott’s campaign will be coordinating with U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign, and that the two of them collectively will hire 52 new, paid staffers in rural Alaska. Thirty of those will be full time positions, Mary Halloran, the campaign manager said, and the remaining 22 will be part time.

The “coordinated campaign,” as the Democrats call it, will also open up field offices in the hub cities of Bethel, Nome, Dillingham and Barrow, Halloran said.

It’s unclear as of yet who will pay for what.

Halloran told a group convened for the first gathering of “Alaska Women for Mallott” that putting those resources in rural Alaska allows more time and energy to be put into working the rail belt, where the majority of Alaska’s population resides.

Begich won by about 4,000 votes in 2008 against the late Sen. Ted Stevens. Even though Stevens spent much of his career focused on helping rural Alaska, Begich was particularly strong in the region. And the campaign is obviously betting on the fact that teaming up with Mallott, who is an Alaska Native, will help both candidates.

Mallott himself wasn’t at Monday night’s event. He was at a funeral of a family friend.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


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


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.