Decision in Alaska Senate race could drag on for days
by Sophia Lee
Posted 11/05/14, 01:35 pm
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is leading the Alaska race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich as of Wednesday afternoon, with all of Alaska’s precincts reporting. Sullivan has a 49 percent lead over Begich’s 45 percent. Despite the sizable margin, Begich is refusing to concede.
Tens of thousands of votes have not yet been counted and won’t be until next week at the earliest, state election officers said.
Given Alaska’s giant land mass, its huge swaths of rural territory, and the fact that absentee ballots can be postmarked on election day, it’s likely to take more than a week for Alaska to declare a winner, unless Begich concedes.
If Sullivan maintains his lead, he will be the eighth Republican elected to the Senate this election cycle.
Begich, a former mayor, is holding on to hope that 2014 will be a repeat of 2008, when he trailed by more than 3,000 votes on Election Night but eventually won by about 4,000 votes. He has held his seat in the U.S. Senate since then.
This time, 8,149 votes separate the candidates, making a win for Begich within the realm of possibility.
Sullivan, a former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner who served in the U.S. Department of State under President George W. Bush, ran his campaign on themes of energy security, tougher law enforcement, and pro-life values. He repeatedly connected Begich to President Barack Obama by reminding Alaskans of his vote for the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, Begich emphasized his commitment to Alaskan Natives, resource development, and pro-choice issues while trying to disassociate himself from the president by minimizing mention of healthcare and listing the various disagreements he has with Obama.