One of the closet and most significant Senate races in the country this year is Alaska’s election for the junior Senate slot presently held by Democrat Mark Begich.
Alaska, the forty ninth state admitted to the Union, is our largest state in land mass but the third smallest in population. It’s also the least dense state and only state that was once part of Russia.
In this election cycle, the coldest state may turn out to have the hottest Senate race in the country — the race that ultimately decides the critical fifty-first seat for who controls the majority.
So all political eyes are focused on the far away state most Americans have never visited or ever will. Alaska is is 500 miles from its closet U.S. neighbor, the State of Washington. Sixty-five percent of the state’s land is owned and operated by the federal government.
Begich is from a long time political family. His late father Nick Begich served in the House of Representatives from Alaska’s At Large District. He was killed in a plane crash in 1972 along with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs.
His political career has been helped immensely by patronage from patrons of his father. He ran three times before being elected mayor of Anchorage and was able to squeak out a narrow victory for Senate six years ago over the late, long term and widely revered Republican Senator Ted Stevens, who was being tried and convicted unfairly for ethics violation during the election campaign.
The Justice department later dropped the case after improper tactics by the prosecutor were disclosed and the court overturned the convictions but it all came too late to help Stevens.
In 2008 the Begich campaign was helped immeasurably by the Obama for President Campaign in Alaska. Begich was recruited to run by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and has been a Schumer-Harry Reid protégé ever since and is part of the Senate Democrat leadership team.
Six years later, now that he is running for reelection in one of the reddest of red states, Begich is trying to put as much distant as possible between himself and the unpopular president who leads his party.
The president’s endorsement of his long time friend and mentor Democrat Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii didn’t help the governor last weekend when he lost his primary by a margin of more than 2 to 1.
Many of the challenged Democrats this primary season are trying to put distance between themselves and President Obama’s policies but Begich went a little too far. He ran a commercial in which he is trying to attach himself to the state’s senior Senator, Lisa Murkowski , a Republican, by calling the two of them a dynamic duo who vote together eighty percent of the time.
Senator Murkowsi will certainly support the Republican nominee, who will be chosen by voters in the August 19 primary. She objected strongly to being featured in a campaign ad and told Begich in no uncertain terms to run on his own record.
That record includes the differences between Begich’s decision to vote for ObamaCare and support for the Dodd- Frank bill, two of the hallmarks of this president’s agenda.
He has also supported the president’s liberal judges and EPA policies which Murkowski has not done.
But, the most important vote difference between the two senators will be the vote for majority leader. Begich, as part of the Senate leadership team, if reelected will cast his ballot for the two men despised by Republicans and many others, the Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer team.
The republican nominee, along with Senator Murkowski, will no doubt cast it for the man who will hopefully be the new majority leader, Mitch McConnell.
That vote alone makes all the difference that matters between the two.
Edward J. Rollins is a Fox News contributor. He is a former assistant to President Reagan and he managed his reelection campaign. He is a senior presidential fellow at Hofstra University and a member of the Political Consultants Hall of Fame.