All Eyes on Alaska: Meet the Senate’s Most Vulnerable Democrat
Policy + Politics

All Eyes on Alaska: Meet the Senate’s Most Vulnerable Democrat

By any measure, Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska is probably the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate. Six years ago, he barely unseated indicted Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, and he has been struggling ever since to build up a base in the state.

Now Republican challenger Dan Sullivan, a Marine reservist and the former attorney general of Alaska is making life miserable for Begich by taking a narrow lead in the polls and threatening to turn the seat from blue to red.

Related: Democrats See a Glimmer of Hope in New Senate Polls

Historically, Alaska polling has been less than accurate. Still, Sullivan has gained momentum after securing key endorsements from Alaska’s senior Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski and other prominent senators including Marco Rubio of Florida.

Here is a rundown of where the race stands. 

Alaska Senate Race 10/7/14


Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)  
Alaska’s junior senator was elected in 2007—after narrowly beating former Sen. Ted Stevens who at the time was indicted on seven corruption counts. Begich is the former mayor of Anchorage and a lifelong Alaskan. He currently serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Commerce Committee and the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee. 

Dan Sullivan
The 50-year-old Marine is Alaska’s former attorney general and commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources. Though he grew up in Ohio, he claims Alaska as his home. While Sullivan’s expansive resume includes many state positions, he has also spent time in Washington, serving the Bush administration in the White House and State Department.

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Begich is campaigning on the idea of expanding Social Security benefits. He also supports lifting the payroll tax cap, so higher earners pay more, while adopting a new measure for inflation that would increase benefits for all seniors." He is pro-choice, supports same-sex marriage, and supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife refuse.

Meanwhile, Sullivan is a staunch Obamacare opponent who sued the federal government to “stop Obamacare,” while he was Alaska’s attorney general. His website lists protecting Alaskan jobs and the economy, as well as the 2nd Amendment among his top campaign issues.

Not surprisingly, as the incumbent, Begich has raised twice as much as Sullivan—approximately $8.3 million, compared to Sullivan’s $4 million, according to Open Secrets. 

Begich has spent about $6.4 million of the total and has another $2 million cash on hand. Sullivan has spent $3 million and has $990,000 left in his war chest.


RCP Average 45.7 41.0 Sullivan +4.7
Rasmussen Reports 48 43 Sullivan +5
PPP (D) 45 42 Sullivan +3
CBS News/NYT/YouGov 44 38 Sullivan +6

This is a long shot, but Begich is trying to portray Sullivan as a carpetbagger who doesn’t understand the state nearly as well as he does. Begich’s campaign has repeatedly noted that Sullivan is an Ohio native who has spent years living in the D.C. metro area while employed by the White House and the State Department.

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