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Rockefeller Republicanism is a somewhat outdated term for the center-left Republicans in the mold of former Sen.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: