On the heels of new polling data showing incumbent Democratic Sen. Begich up over GOP challenger Dan Sullivan, help is evidently on the way.
Monday, pollster Ivan Moore released new numbers showing Begich with a seven to eight point lead, depending on turnout. This backed similar findings by a Hellenthal & Associates poll from last week showing Begich with a 10-point margin; quite the significant reversal by the right-leaning firm that showed Sullivan up 4.5 points the last time around.
With Republicans scrambling to ensure what was very recently assumed to be a swing of power in the U.S. Senate in their favor, the proverbial hope and a prayer that Sullivan can eke it out on his own now seems like a risky gamble. Last night, the Washington Post announced that tea party champion Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would join forces with Mitt Romney — the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee — in four campaign events in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley, the Kenai, and Fairbanks.
According to the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker:
The two will headline get-out-the-vote rallies in four of the state’s main population areas… [and] Next Monday, on the eve of the election, Romney will hold a rally with Sullivan as well as Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) in the Anchorage area[.]
The Alaska Dispatch News corroborated the story, confirming with Sullivan’s campaign manager Ben Sparks that Cruz and Romney were headed north to their hopeful electoral future.
Begich’s campaign quickly responded by calling the move a “desperate request for Outside reinforcements” in a press release. Campaign manager Susanne Fleek-Green said: “Now, as Election Day draws closer, Dan Sullivan is forced to rely on Outside surrogates to headline his events because he wants to represent their interests, not Alaska’s[.]”
In fairness, bringing up Outside help to garner voter support is not unique to Republican candidates. Over the summer, Begich entertained Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), among others, to bolster support.
Bill Walker, on the other hand, is perfectly positioned to respond. In a press release sent out Wednesday morning, he emphasized the “homegrown” nature of his campaign. “We don’t have outside PAC money coming in to persuade Alaskans to vote for a DC platform and we don’t have outside politicians telling Alaskans how to vote,” he said.
Beyond the senate and gubernatorial races, the late night announcement ushered another interesting tidbit in the way of one noteworthy name omitted. Granted, this is an unscientific, independent headcount, but Gov. Parnell and candidate Sullivan are just two out of three names pertaining to statewide GOP candidates in Alaska this cycle. But they were the only names tied to the events involving Cruz and Romney.
Nowhere is Rep. Don Young, still dealing with a series of unfortunate events. Young was included in Moore’s latest poll, which identified the longtime incumbent as a vulnerable candidate whose seat is in jeopardy. Moore’s poll, based off a sample representing 55 percent turnout, showed Young’s Democratic challenger Forrest Dunbar leading by more than five points.
Emails to the Sullivan, Parnell, and Young campaigns have, of yet, not been answered. It would be quite the spectacle for national Republicans fly up to appear in high profile, get out the vote efforts for Republican candidates in Alaska without the presence of the state’s most senior member there to share the stage.
Whether any of it pulls voters away from Begich — and whether or not Alaska has finally begun to master the art of polling, which in the past we have not — is anyone’s guess.