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Senator Mark Begich (D. AK) recently spoke his mind about former Governor Sarah Palin (R. AK) and her impact on the Alaska U.S. Senate race if she were to run against him this year:

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks during the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's Friends of the Family Banquet in Des Moines Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2013. (AP Photo by Justin Hayworth)
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is not a serious threat to Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) in the 2014 senate race because she is so "disconnected" from the state, the incumbent told the Huffington Post in an interview published Monday.

"She would be a formidable opponent in the Republican [primary], but I have no worry or fear of her," Begich told the Huffington Post. "I think she is so disconnected from Alaska now that I'm not sure she even knows what's going on."

Begich isn't positive Palin is a resident of Alaska anymore. - TPM, 1/13/14

Sounds like tempting words from Begich.  It's almost like he's telling Palin this:

And if Palin were smart, she would realize what Begich is doing:

The Huffington Post has a great piece out about Begich and how he might be the only one to hold Alaska together that breaks from the traditions of Rep. Don Young (R. AK-AL) and deceased Senator Ted Stevens (R. AK):

For much of Alaska's history, such essentials were rarely in question. And so, emboldened by skyrocketing oil revenues and a Washington all too happy to dole out earmarks, Alaskans focused on far-fetched ideas and lavish projects instead.

Alaska's governing elite sought federal dollars to build things like an $8 billion dam that would provide 20 times the state's electricity needs. There were also failed attempts to cultivate a thriving agricultural sector, despite a prohibitively short growing season. In the 1970s, Sen. Mike Gravel, a Democrat, vigorously lobbied for the construction of "Denali City," a domed city that would draw tourists from the world over.

Alaska became defined by egos and personalities as large as the state itself. Not a year went by without stories of corruption, favoritism, nepotism and pie-in-the-sky idealism. Take Bill Allen, former CEO of energy contractor VECO Corporation and arguably Alaska's most powerful businessman. When Allen wasn't going on fishing trips with his good friend Ted Stevens, or setting up shop in the Juneau hotel where federal prosecutors say he bribed state lawmakers, he was spending time with one of his closest companions, a teenage runaway named Bambi.

Or Wally Hickel, a onetime governor and interior secretary under Richard Nixon. Hickel ran for governor again in 1990 as the nominee of the Alaska Independence Party, which was founded for the express purpose of seceding from the union. He won.

And, of course, Sarah Palin, whose rollout as a national politician was such a disaster that within weeks of her debut as John McCain's running mate, "Saturday Night Live" writers were blockquoting her in lieu of an original script.

Alaska's two most effective legislators, Stevens and Young, could be notoriously tone-deaf. Stevens once complained that Alaskans didn't fully appreciate the sacrifices he made for them, grousing, "I could go out and make $1 million a year without any question" instead of serving in the Senate. Young, meanwhile, drew condemnations from both sides of the aisle recently when he referred to Mexican laborers as "wetbacks."

Put another way, Alaska has suffered a string of bad exes. Enter Mark Begich, whose appearance, demeanor and outlook are those of the sensible rebound. He might well provide Alaska's jilted electorate the measure of stability it has sorely lacked. - Huffington Post, 1/13/14

I recommend reading the Huffington Post piece.  It really gives a great breakdown of Alaska's politics and makes a strong argument that Begich is one of Alaska's most effective legislators.  I respect Begich's confidence if he were to go up against Palin, who hasn't decided on a run yet but from the looks of this year's Senate race, she would only make it more interesting.  It's still unclear who Begich's GOP opponent will be but the top two contenders, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell (R. AK) and former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R. AK) are hitting Begich hard.  Here's Tredwell's latest stupid attack on Begich:

The Senate campaign of Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell has issued a series of press releases attacking incumbent Mark Begich for allegedly receiving support from Outside politicians working to lock up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and enact gun control, which both candidates oppose. But the Treadwell campaign was apparently unaware that a listed host for a Treadwell fundraiser in Chicago is one of the Senate’s biggest advocates for those same two issues.

The Treadwell campaign, in a November press release, noted that Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, helped Begich fundraise last summer. And, she sponsored a bill that would bar oil development in the Arctic Refuge. The press release connects the dots this way:  “Senator Begich either has no pull within the Democratic Party or he supports Senator Cantwell’s move to lock up ANWR from future oil exploration.”

What the press release doesn’t say is that Cantwell’s co-sponsor on the ANWR anti-development bill, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, is the lead host named on an invitation to a Treadwell fundraiser in Chicago in July. (One of the other hosts, a Harvard Business School friend of Treadwell’s, posted the invitation on the social network LinkedIn.)  Sen. Kirk is also a big supporter of gun control. He was recently the only Republican senator to get an F on the National Rifle Association’s political scorecard. As it happens, the Treadwell campaign issued a press release this week accusing Begich of being in league, indirectly, with people who want to undermine gun rights.

Zack Fields, communications director for the Alaska Democratic Party, says the Treadwell campaign is off base on two fronts.

“It’s hypocritical of Treadwell to wage these attacks when he’s taking money from Mark Kirk, an Illinois senator who has voted for gun control and is an original co-sponsor of legislation to lock up ANWR from oil and gas development forever,” Fields says

And Fields says it’s childish to argue that Alaska senators should only work with colleagues who agree with them on every issue. - KTOO, 1/13/14

And Sullivan is looking like the big Super PAC candidate in this race:

A super-PAC backing Alaska Senate candidate Dan Sullivan (R) is up with its first radio ads, attacking Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and touting the former attorney general's candidacy.

The group, called "Alaska's Energy/America's Values," is airing a trio of radio ads slamming "Malarkey Mark" for his votes with President Obama on his appointees, ObamaCare and the stimulus and promoting Sullivan, a former head of the state's department of natural resources. They ignore Sullivan's two primary opponents completely.

"Today the American Dream is being suffocated, and Sen. Mark Begich is part of the problem. Begich was the deciding vote for ObamaCare. Now he's trying to duck and hide. Alaska and America deserve better," says one of the ads. "Dan Sullivan is a former Alaska attorney general, commissioner of the department of natural resources, and a lieutenant colonel in the Marine reserves. Sullivan tells it like it is."

"It's time to replace Malarkey Mark with U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan," says another. - The Hill, 1/10/14

It's $12,000 for five days of radio in the state's major media markets but the Super PAC is saying this is a precursor to a major TV ad buy.  Of course Treadwell and Sullivan will need to be careful not to get too divisive and nasty in the primary because it could help Tea Party wild card Joe Miller's (R. AK) chances of securing his party's nominee.  With Begich being a top target for Republicans this cycle, a Miller candidacy or even a Palin candidacy could really throw a wrench in their plans to take back this seat.  In the mean time, Begich is focused on solving Alaska's problems in the U.S. Senate:

Last month, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich urged the Obama administration to adopt a reasonable approach to combat wildlife trafficking that includes the consideration of the subsistence practices of Alaska Natives and the economic consequences on rural communities.

Begich wrote a letter to Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell in response to reports that a presidential task force will release a national strategy for combating wildlife trafficking by early next year.

 “As the U.S. considers a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, I urge the Department of Interior to consider a reasonable approach when it comes to any immediate ban or restriction of the use of ivory,” said Begich. “Such actions could have negative economic consequences for Alaska Native artists and carvers that have acquired ivory in a legitimate, legal manner.”

On July 1,  President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing a task force to develop a national strategy to combat wildlife trafficking. The task force is comprised of private-sector leaders, representatives of nonprofit organizations and former government officials. A recent high-profile wildlife trafficking case, which involved two Tennessee men who admitted to selling narwhal tusks, had connections to Alaska. - Alaska Dispatch, 1/12/14

And Begich is still fighting to stop the FDA from approving the genetically engineered salmon, Frankenfish:
Here’s a question I never want to ask at dinner: “What would you like with your Frankenfish?”

Environmental regulators in Canada just gave the go-ahead for genetically-engineered salmon production. The FDA could be days away from a similar decision.

If we don’t keep up the pressure, Frankenfish could be getting closer to our dinner plates.

I’ve been working for months to let the FDA know they shouldn’t approve Frankenfish. But it’s not pressure from me that will make the ultimate difference. It’s opposition from people like you.

Sign the petition, right now, to let the FDA know that you oppose approval of genetically-modified salmon:

We don’t want these unnaturally fast-growing fish disrupting our natural fish populations in Alaska, or anywhere else. And let’s not forget we have no idea what effect they could have on human health down the line.

Alaska salmon runs produce the highest quality fish in the world -- and we need to keep it that way.

Don’t wait until a Frankenfish is already flipping on your grill. Tell the FDA that you don’t want Frankenfish in our waters. Sign the petition today:

Thank you for your activism.


You can click here to add your name:

And you can click here to if you want to donate or get involved with Begich's campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 10:08 AM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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