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Do you hear what I hear?  The sound of a Tea Party loser possibly preparing for another attempt at running for the Alaska U.S. Senate race in 2014.  I was reading the National Journal's article handicapping the upcoming Senate race in Alaska.  It looks like it could be a crowded GOP primary to try and unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D).  But the two names that have been brought up a lot as potential challengers.  Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell (R) who is already exploring a run for the Senate:

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The 2014 Senate race in Alaska is one of the Senate contests popping early, as Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) last week announced he was forming an exploratory committee for a potential run against Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.

Treadwell, who made an early entrance to the race, could be a strong opponent. He is considered a somewhat moderate Republican, though he is socially conservative. - National Journal, 12/7/12

The other name that pops up is none other than Tea Party clown Joe Miller (R)

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The other frequently mentioned Republican is Joe Miller, the GOP Senate nominee from 2010. Miller, who ran with tea party support (and the support of the Palins), beat GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the 2010 primary before losing to her when she ran as a write-in candidate in the general election. - National Journal

Miller has been looking at making comeback bid for the U.S. Senate for a while now:

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Miller, who is in Washington attending the CPAC conference, told POLITICO at the Marriott Wardman Park he's unlikely to challenge Rep. Don Young this year but signaled a race against Sen. Mark Begich is very much in the cards.

"The only seat that's up right now in 2012 is Don Young, unlikely.  But 2014, that's a different story," said the tea party favorite.  "He knows what the cards hold on that," he said, referring to Begich.

"We're certainly keeping our options open with that, looking at that race as a possibility. We really want to be more organized, more prepared for the next run," he said. - Politico, 2/9/12

Now Treadwell is the GOP establishment's favorite.  He has great name recognition and he's wealthy and could fund his own campaign.  But that's not going to discourage Miller from running.  In fact, Treadwell's candidacy might be enough motivation for Miller to jump in and try again:

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Miller is making calls about another Senate bid, and has not yet signaled whether he'll run. But he published a post on his website (written by someone named Matt Johnson, identified as a freelance writer, consultant, and political activist) after Treadwell's announcement attacking the LG on having the "wrong ideas," including belief in global warming.

"Yeah, Treadwell is the anointed candidate of the Republican establishment," he writes. "So was Romney. How'd that work out for us?" - National Journal, 12/7/12

Those sound like fighting words to me.  And it only gets better when you check out Miller's website courtesy of "freelance journalist", Matt Johnson:

Now I’m not suggesting that Mead Treadwell would be a do-nothing senator, though he did support one in 2010. He is an affable guy, a deal-maker, and has big ideas. But it is precisely the fact that he has such big ideas that I find troubling, because they are the wrong ideas.

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I am speaking of Mead’s penchant for ideology. Yes, I know ‘he’s a pragmatist not an ideologue.’ However, the doctrine of man-made global warming is nothing if not an ideology. The dogged belief in the inherent benevolence of the United Nations is nothing if not an ideology. And the pragmatism of compromise itself can become the handmaiden of ideology when it becomes an end in itself. -, 12/2/12

Johnson makes a number of other similarities between Treadwell and failed GOP Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney:

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Yeah, Treadwell’s a rich moderate that can appeal to independents. Romney won those voters overwhelmingly. How’d that work out for us?

Yeah, Treadwell is the anointed candidate of the Republican establishment. So was Romney. How’d that work out for us?

Yeah, Treadwell is an experienced businessman and government manager. So was Romney. How’d that work out for us?

Yeah, Treadwell is a decent man who believes in a fair fight. So was Romney. How’d that work out for us? -, 12/2/12

Strong words there.  Plus Johnson offers the GOP establishment a serious heads up that Miller is serious about making a comeback, especially if Treadwell is the party's candidate:

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There are no less than five other potential candidates out there who have yet to make their intentions known, and I have privileged information that suggests there may be a wild-card in the works that could take the whole political establishment by surprise. -, 12/2/12

The "wild card" that Johnson is referring to is clearly Miller.  If Miller wasn't serious about running for Senate, he would never allow Johnson to post this on his website.  It's possible that this could be a threat from Miller either urging Alaska Republicans to stay loyal to ideals over a candidate.  It could also be Miller's way of forcing Treadwell to move farther to the right but I think Miller is crazy enough to jump in and challenge Treadwell.  The question is are Alaska Republicans willing to give the Tea Party Wild Card another crack?  Miller might be unenthusiastic candidate but he and Treadwell might be underestimating Mark Begich's chances at being re-elected:

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Alaska GOP consultant Andrew Halcro thinks Republicans are underestimating Begich's chances due to the state's red hue. Halcro said Begich has been "solid on all Alaska issues." Begich has worked on developing the state's resources and opening up drilling (though Halcro pointed to Begich's support for the Affordable Care Act as his one possible "Achilles heel" vote). - National Journal, 12/7/12

Another factor that could work in Begich's favor is the changing demographics in Alaska:

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One other factor worth noting as the race gears up: Alaska is undoubtedly still a red state, but as the New York Times' Nate Silver pointed out this week, President Obama lost it by 14 points rather than the 22 points he lost by in 2008. Yes, Sarah Palin was on the ballot in 2008, but Al Gore also lost the state by 31 points back in 2000. Among other factors, Silver notes that Alaska is getting a substantial population influx from liberal states like California, Washington, and Oregon. It may not be enough for Democrats to win on the presidential level in the near future, but won't hurt Begich in his reelection bid. - National Journal, 12/7/12

Emphasis Mine.

Johnson isn't underestimating Begich either but not for the same reasons:

To all the Republicans out there who think this is going to be easy, I have a few words of caution.

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First, Mark Begich is, without doubt, the most savvy politician in the state. Second, the whole government-media-complex will work tirelessly to make sure their golden boy wins re-election. Third, he will have David Axelrod and the whole ‘Chicago Machine’ at his disposal. And last, but not least, his secret weapon: unlike most politicians, people actually like this guy. -, 12/2/12

A great public image is essential to winning elections and Begich has that covered.  Miller on the other hand has a reputation for being a sore loser and pissing people off:

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Miller's inability to accept defeat gracefully (Memo to Joe: Nobody says you have to like it) is how he got in a pickle in this state in the first place. And he seems to have learned nothing.

He was back to his old tricks this week after bailing on what had been a stupid and misguided lawsuit intended to punish representatives of the Fairbanks North Star Borough because he thought they revealed that he'd gotten into trouble for some shady politicking while employed there as a part-time attorney. Miller believes the revelations that he was reprimanded in Fairbanks for secretly using the computers of co-workers to try to dummy up a Republican Party poll -- and lying about it to try and cover this up when he got caught -- cost him a seat in the U.S. Senate.

It didn't. What cost Miller a seat in the Senate was Miller's handling of what had happened in Fairbanks. He couldn't bring himself to publicly admit "I made a huge mistake," treat it as the sort of human failure to which we are all prone, and move beyond it as really too petty for much discussion with weighty Alaska and national policies to be debated. But then, if he'd done that, Miller might have looked like a bit of a loser, at least in his own eyes. And he clearly can't accept this. - Alaska Dispatch, 6/21/12

With Miller being a sore loser, he could still cause some damage if he loses his primary.  His voters could split the Republican voting base in half which is something Alaska Republicans should be concerned about.  But does Treadwell have the stomach to move further to the right to appeal to Miller's Tea Party base?  And would a shift moving further to the right hurt him in the general election?  Murkowski isn't as far right as Miller and she ended up attracting both Democrats and moderate Republican voters in 2010 due to her namesake.  Begich has a legit record to run on and can attract moderate Republican voters if either Miller is the nominee or if Treadwell falls for the trap and moves farther to the right in order to secure the nominee.

Whatever happens in the GOP primary, Begich is still a top target for Republicans in their hopes to take back the Senate in 2014.  Karl Rove and the right wing Super PACs will be back to take out Begich but Begich is one hell of a campaigner and an effective Senator.  Plus, kossacks and progressives should be lining up to support Begich's re-election.  Begich is the Senator leading to strengthen Social Security with a bold and great plan:

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Increases Benefits for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Currently, Social Security benefits are adjusted by the Consumer Price Index for workers. However, costs and spending patterns for seniors do not mirror those of the workforce. That is why Sen. Begich’s bill calls for adjusting cost-of-living increases with a Consumer Price Index specifically for the elderly which was created to more accurately measure the costs of goods and services seniors actually buy.

Lifts the Cap on High-Income Contributions. Current law sets a cap based on income at $113,700 for paying into Social Security. If an individual’s wages hit that total for the year, they no longer pay into the program. Sen. Begich’s bill lifts the cap and asks higher income earners to pay Social Security on all their earnings in order to increase the program’s revenue stream and extend the overall solvency of the program.

Extends Social Security for approximately 75 years through modest revenue increases gradually implemented over the course of seven years. - Alaska Native News, 11/14/12

I applaud Begich for listening to progressives and getting serious about strengthening Social Security.  Whether the GOP nominee is Treadwell or Miller or some other Republican, Begich has my full support and I will be fighting for him in 2014.  Until then, lets give Begich a head start for 2014:

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