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Democratic Senator: I’m Really More Of A Republican

Alaska Senator Mark Begich really doesn’t want the voters in his home state to think of him as a Democrat:

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) on Monday said he’s closer to being a Rockefeller Republican than a Pelosi Democrat.

“Probably a Rockefeller Republican,” the Alaska senator told CNBC Monday morning when asked whether he was closer to identifying as that or as a Pelosi Democrat.

The comment signifies Begich’s efforts to put some distance between himself and national Democrats in the libertarian-leaning state.

Begich, who’s likely to face a tough reelection battle next year, later argued that Alaskans don’t often fall into the traditional Republican or Democratic political spectrum.

“Alaska is a very unique place,” he said. “For us to say we’re a Democrat or a Republican — what Alaskans like to just say is ‘We’re Alaskan; here are our views.’ We have a libertarian streak on some of the issues.”

Rockefeller Republicanism is a somewhat outdated term for the center-left Republicans in the mold of former Sen. Nelson Rockefeller (R-N.Y.). Few modern Republicans self-identify themselves in Rockefeller’s mold.

Mark Begich, of course,  wouldn’t be in the Senate today if it weren’t for the corruption trial against then Senator Ted Stevens and Stevens’ ultimate conviction in a corruption trial that saw rampant prosecutorial misconduct so bad that it led a Federal Judge to dismiss all the charges against the man who had served Alaska in one office or another since it had become a state in 1959. During his time in the Senate, Begich has sought to carve out an independent path for himself, one that largely acknowledges that he is representing a state that is not only Republican, but very Republican. In 2008, it went for McCain over Obama by 22 points, and last year it went for Romney over Obama by 14 points.

While recent polling has shown Begich well positioned for re-election, especially now that Governor Sean Parnell has decided to run for re-election rather than challenging Begich in 2014, he’s clearly not taking any chances. Begich was one of the Democratic Senators to vote against the Manchin-Toomey background checks amendment, for example. His campaign website calls him “as Independent as Alaska.” And now you have comments like this one. Begich will likely be re-elected next year, but all of this shows that he recognizes the reality of being a Democrat running for election in a deeply red state.

Here’s video of the interview:

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Of course he’s a Dem. If he was a Repub he’d get primaried in a NY minute.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  2. Anderson says:

    “ROCKEFELLER REPUBLICAN, n. – See DEMOCRAT.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @Anderson: He’s not worried about you. He’s hoping his constituents are too dumb to figure that out. He’s probably right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. Paul L. says:

    rampant prosecutorial misconduct so bad that it led a Federal Judge to dismiss all the charges against the man

    It was a just innocent mistake by “rogue local civil servants”since no one at the DOJ was punished for it.
    DOJ Challenges Reversal of Sanctions in Ted Stevens Case

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. rudderpedals says:

    “But for a defective prosecution, Begich wouldn’t be here now” leads to stuff like “But for an unfortunate Justice’s mini-stroke, Joe Lieberman would now be President.”
    Edit
    That posted accidentally before I was done. Anyway..

    The Scott Brown losing to Sen Warren scenario is what’s going to play out for Begich, barring the lunatic primary winner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  6. Caj says:

    If you have to say you’re more like a Republican because you’re in a red state to hold a seat, then you shouldn’t be in there to start with! If a Democrat be proud of what you stand for and stop the pandering to gain votes to the low information voters in Alaska. After all, they chose Sarah Palin as governor and look how long that brain box lasted!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Caj:

    So how would you recommend a democrat wins in Alaska?

    As someone in a pretty red state, I can tell you that standing proud of progressive principles puts you in an early political grave.

    Also “pandering to voters” is the job of politicians. It’s not pandering. It’s answering to voters’ demands. Alaskans are Begich’s boss, not us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  8. edmondo says:

    @Caj:

    If you have to say you’re more like a Republican because you’re in a red state to hold a seat, then you shouldn’t be in there to start with!

    and yet you voted for Obama, didn’t you? What is with you O-pologists and that blind spot when it comes to him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  9. Ben says:

    This actually doesn’t bother me at all. There are quite a few Republicans out there that are sane and reasonable people, but they get drowned out by the looneys, the xenophobes and the holy rollers. If I were a moderate Republican, I might consider doing that too, just so I don’t get associated with the radicals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  10. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Caj: Oh, Nicky – facade starting to get harder to maintain?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. al-Ameda says:

    LOL … What a weasel.

    “Oh mama, can this really be the end?
    To be stuck inside of Juneau with the re-election blues again.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Tyrell says:

    Most of the people around here consider themselves Southern Democrats. The Republican party basically did not even exist until the early 1980′s ; some counties did not even have Republican registry books! Many Democrats may cross over at elections, few have left the Democrat party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    few have left the Democrat party.

    Few have left the Democrat Party because, to my knowledge, it does not exist, except in the minds of conservative Republicans.

    The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is another story.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  14. [...] I noted yesterday, Begich has done much recently to try to disassociate himself from Washington Democrats, no doubt in recognition of the fact that he is a Democratic running in a deep red state. Until now, [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. merl says:

    @Anderson: Pretty much. I’m a registered Dem but 40 years ago I’d be considered as a Rockefeller Republican.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Tyrell says:

    What happened was the Democrats’ leadership moved away.from their centrist base and wrote off their southern base. The solid south that had supported Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Humphrey felt that they had been discarded and ignored by party leadership that had became narrowly exclusive in its views. Many people in the south were also put off by the dirty politics that the Republican party had got into. Democrats such as Russell, Ervin, Nunn, Hollings, Fulbright, and Mills were great leaders and statesmen. Democrats in the south hope for a return of that kind of leadership and of the party that was centrist in persuasion and gentlemanly in manner. Call it a taste of the good old days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. These days, all Democrats are more of a Republican than they are a Democrat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0