Alaska Lt. Governor To Challenge Sen. Mark Begich
The Republican Lt. Governor of Alaska has thrown his hat into the ring and will challenge Senator Mark Begich in 2014:
Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) announced Tuesday that he will officially challenge Sen. Mark Begich (D) in 2014, transitioning from an exploratory committee to a full-fledged campaign.
“This intense exploratory effort has convinced me that I have the support necessary to build a winning campaign,” Treadwell said on his Web site. “Today I’m taking the next step by announcing that I will not seek re-election as Alaska’s lieutenant governor and have begun to file documents required as a candidate for the United States Senate in 2014.”
Treadwell begins the race as perhaps the favorite to face Begich in the general election, though he is expected to face primary opposition.
Among those running or looking at running are state Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan and 2010 GOP nominee Joe Miller, who lost the general election to the write-in candidacy of Sen. Lisa Murkowski after beating her in a primary. The nomination of Miller would be a big blow to the GOP given he is hugely unpopular in the state.
Treadwell trailed Begich by eight points in a February automated poll from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling and by 10 points in a January poll from GOP automated pollster Harper Polling. Part of that deficit likely owes to the fact that Begich is more well-known.
As 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, it was unclear who the Alaska GOP would put up against him, especially given that Gov. Parnell had decided to forgo the race in favor of running for re-election. Treadwell does indeed seem to be the best positioned to take Begich on next year, however the question will be how he’ll fare against a Tea Party favorite like Miller, who managed to beat incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the GOP Primary in 2010 before ultimately losing to her write-in bid in the General Election. Assuming Miller actually does run, this will be an interesting primary race to watch.