I didn’t watch the last Senate debate of the season tonight between Sen. Mark Begich and GOP challenger Dan Sullivan sponsored by Alaska Public Media. But from the post-debate spin, I’d say that both campaigns think their guy won handily, and both of their campaigns thought that the other messed up.
According to the Democrats’ spin, GOP challenger Dan Sullivan avoided answering tough questions about the Patriot Act, tribal rights, the war in the Middle East, and campaign finance reform, to name a few. He did, however, say that banks were over-regulated, which will likely prove to be fodder for attack, particularly given campaign donations that he’s received from the financial industry.
But from what I can see on twitter and in breathless GOP press releases, one of the biggest mistakes of the evening was made by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich when he adamantly denied that he ran attack ads against the late Sen. Ted Stevens who he beat in 2008 after Stevens was convicted of corruption charges, and before those charges were thrown out because of corruption by the prosecutors.
Here’s the exchange between Sullivan and Begich on the ads:
Here’s a 2008 Begich ad that every Republican in the world is sending out:
Using today’s standards, the ad might seem like a rather tame attack. The really nasty ones from 2008, which featured actors dressed like FBI agents scouting Stevens’ house, were left to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. However, given the circumstances, and how beloved Stevens was in the state, Begich’s ad went off like a bomb at the time.
I don’t know if Sullivan’s rather plodding campaign is nimble enough to use it, but it could create an opportunity to evoke Stevens in the last few days of the race. Too, Begich’s remarks will likely enrage the Stevens family, some of whom have supported Sullivan, but have largely sat on the sidelines in this race, along with Stevens’ memory.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org