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September 18, 2014

Begich Arms for 2014

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Senator Mark Begich (D) doesn’t toe the line every time Harry Reid whistles. And he’s certainly been a thorn in the side of Yellow Dog Dems, and caused much hair pulling and kicking of trash cans for progressive Alaskans, particularly in the area of resource development.

All that said, the Democrats in the Senate are a family, and even the wayward kid gets some TLC. Harry Reid knows, as do we all, that 2014 is going to be an interesting race for the Senate in Alaska. It will be Mark Begich (D) vs. any one of a long string of Republicans who’ve got napkins tied around their necks, clutching knives and forks.

Coyote

Current Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell seems to be the odds on favorite for the opposition, although to be fair, he’s only the first to speak up by forming an “exploratory committee.” Governor Sean “Captain Zero” Parnell might also throw his hat in the ring. And then there are the Dan Sullivans (Mayor of Anchorage, and former AG/current DNR commish). The first Dan Sullivan seems unlikely at this point. Think of the opposition research team as hungry ravens, and the skeletons in the mayor’s closet as the large fries from Wendy’s.

Finally, let’s not forget the man who won the Republican nomination last time – Joe Miller. Ultimately defeated by a write-in campaign that put moderate Republican Lisa Murkowski back in DC for another term, Miller has not gone away. He’s maintained a web presence with his Restoring Liberty website, with lots of stuff about the fiscal cliff, and the economy, and another article entitled, “Michele Bachmann Says Obama Wants to ‘Lift Up the Islamists’ and Allow Sharia Law in America.” Miller no doubt feels if he’s motivated the base once, he can do it again, and that he might be luckier running against an actual Democrat than simply a different brand of Republican. He might be right.

The oil companies have a keen interest in this race. Don’t assume they want the R. They’d just as soon keep the state split in the Senate, so they’ve always got someone who can actually be effective and push their interests in the Capitol building. So, they’ve been airing sticky-sweet commercials about Mark Begich, and he’s been Shell’s best friend in their efforts to drill offshore in the Arctic. In the real world, this is the price progressives must pay to get someone who votes the right way on the other stuff. In Alaska, red and blue are both oily brown.

But oil’s not the only group that Begich has going for him.  He’s definitely been a friend to women, to unions, to the military, the LGBT community, and to Alaska Natives who decisively handed him the rural vote in 2008.

So, mother hen Harry Reid wants to make sure little Mark goes to school with everything he needs. You can imagine Harry saying, “Mark, do you have your homework? Do you have your lunch? Do you have your backpack? Do you have your gym clothes? Do you have your glasses?” only you can replace all those things with committee assignments.

The idea, of course, is to make Begich useful to Alaska, influential in the areas Alaskans care about, and to make us feel that he’s irreplaceable – especially by the likes of some Tea Party-ish Republican. The fact that Democrats hold the majority in the Senate right now isn’t hurting things either. Since the nation is clearly more evolved than the Last Frontier i terms of party politics, it pays to have someone in power who plays for the ruling team.

So let’s go rummage and see what goodies have been stuffed into Mark Begich’s backpack as he heads into the fray:

He’s got four committee assignments in there – Commerce, Science and Transportation; Armed Services; Veterans Affairs; and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Not bad. Alaska is chock full of active military folks, and veterans. Transportation is also good.

But wait… what’s this? There’s a new one in there! Look! It’s the Committee on Indian Affairs!

With almost half the tribes in the country located in Alaska, Sen. Begich’s appointment to the committee will allow him to expand on his long list of accomplishments, including protecting subsistence rights, investing in rural housing, jobs, and education, and strengthening and streamlining the role of the Indian Health Service (IHS) in delivering care to Alaska’s rural and tribal communities.

Since arriving in the Senate, Sen. Begich has negotiated agreements between Alaska Native tribal health organizations and the VA, allowing rural veterans to access health care in their home communities instead of traveling to Anchorage or Seattle. He introduced the Alaska Hero’s Card Act which would allow Alaska veterans to have the choice to access care from clinics and other treatment facilities close to home. His idea was recently mirrored in new IHS policy.

Alaska’s other Senator, Lisa Murkowski (R) also serves on that committee, but Begich’s majority party influence will be important, and will doubtless help to increase voter turnout from Native communities across the state who have much at stake.

On the Committee, Sen. Begich will play a key bipartisan role along with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in holding Congress accountable for its commitment to a strong and meaningful government to government relationship between tribes and the federal government.

“I’m very happy to hear that Senator Begich has secured a seat on the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee.  Having a Senator in the majority and on the Indian Affairs Committee is a key leadership position not just for Alaska Natives, but also for Alaska as a whole,” said Edward Thomas, President of the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

It’s not only good for the Native people of Alaska and the rest of the country, it’s also a nice little piece of political strategery. Well played, Harry Reid.

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12 Responses to “Begich Arms for 2014”
  1. Mad as hell says:

    Begich is being a real weasel on assault weapons control. I am ashamed of my senator who is afraid to stand up to the NRA in the face of the mass murder of children. We need people in congress who show even a fraction of the bravery demonstrated by the staff at Sandy Hook school.

  2. Valley_Independent says:

    Mark will have my vote. He’s a truly decent human being, which is all too rare a commodity in politicians these days. He understands business. He thinks beyond the immediate. He’s practical. That’s way better than anything I’ve seen the other side put forth to date.

    Thanks, Republicans, for making the election choices at all levels so darn easy. It was much more difficult when you nominated people who would be good at the job.

  3. Zyxomma says:

    OK, I’m confused. As a 40-year member of the Democratic Party, and a lifelong progressive, I’m well aware of the damage the Blue Dog Democrats have wreaked. But WTF is a Yellow Dog? Please explain.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Originally southern and originally meant someone who would vote for a yellow dog if it was a Democrat .
      Slightly different now as in votes straight Dem always.

      As a far lefty I have to agree that I’ve done a fair amount of hair pulling, trash can kicking, door slamming, and uttering of bad words over some of Senator Begich’s votes and alignments but unless someone like Scott McAdams has a real chance at the seat I’ll be voting for Mr Begich again.
      Depending on who runs against him, I may even work for his campaign. I’ve only worked for 3 in 40 years of voting but I really want to hold the line here on more diversity in our representation in DC… even if some of those trash cans I kicked had Mr Begich’s hiney painted on them.

  4. Happy Place says:

    It really boils down to whether The Party Planner would be a bigger problem for Treadwell or Sullivan. Then again, 2014 is still 2 years away so she has ample opportunity to work Joe Miller into the rotation.

  5. john says:

    Loren Leman is planning a run as well, per the Dispatch.

  6. Moose Pucky says:

    Begich has introduced the most sensible on Social Security as well. Raise the payroll SS tax cap and beef up COLA, especially for those at the lower end of the benefit scale.

    Go Begich. Proud to call you my Senator.

  7. tigerwine says:

    Bite your tongue, AKM! Surely Miller was shown for what his is in his last run. But, stranger things have happened.

    Glad to hear Begich is going to be serving on the Indian Affairs Committee. My son has just transferred from the Nat’l Park Service in AK to the BIA in TN

    Great resume’ on Begich!

  8. Ivan says:

    Not happy with mark! A moderate republican a best.

  9. slipstream says:

    AKM, I am astonished that you overlooked the obvious choice for a Republican to run against Senator Begich: Bernadette Wilson!

    She has the planning experience, the activism, the connections, the youthful good looks, and she knows where the bodies are, um, buried. Bernadette for the Party!

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  1. [...] I wrote before about how Harry Reid was busy armoring Mark Begich for his upcoming reelection fight in 2014 with committee positions that would bolster his effectiveness in Washington, and make him indispensable to his home state. [...]



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