When U.S. Sen. Mark Begich told Politico that “maybe” he would stop using Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s name against her will in his campaign ads, it appears that his “maybe” means, ‘Heck no.’ The campaign on Tuesday released a television ad that corresponds with a recent radio ad featuring Republican pilot Skip Nelson, touting what a great team Begich and Murkowski make and how they vote together as often as “80 percent” of the time. The claim, it should be noted, is only true for 2014. Since 2009, when Begich was elected, the two have voted together about 60 percent of the time. The issues where they deviated, Murkowski has pointed out, were significant.
In any case, the ad is not likely to help soothe tensions between Begich and Murkowski, tensions that have been simmering beneath the surface for years since Begich stumped for Democratic Senate candidate Scott McAdams in 2010, and which now how become full-on public boil.
The bottom line is that Murkowski believes that the so-called “team” would be a stronger team for Alaska if Begich were replaced by a Republican and the Senate switched from Democrat to Republican.
It’s hard to argue with her logic: If the Senate doesn’t flip, Murkowski loses her ranking status on Energy, but if it does flip she would be chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, a huge assignment for an energy state. Secondly, she’d run the powerful appropriations subcommittee, which has control over the Interior Department’s checkbook.
Begich is a master politician, but it’s hard to see what he gets out of this. Polls show that Murkowski is the state’s most popular politician, particularly with moderate Republicans and independents, which are vital voters for Begich. She would have likely worked hard to get a Republican in his seat regardless, but this likely will provide the impetus to work all the more. Now it’s personal.
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