As Alaskans brace for what figures to be one of the nation’s most competitive Senate races, one candidate is trying to keep Outside advertisers from invading the Last Frontier.
Republican Senate-hopeful Dan Sullivan proposed the “Alaska Agreement” Tuesday during a conference call with state and national reporters. The concept is fairly simple: by signing, candidates are asking third parties to cease advertising for their chosen candidate or against their opponents leading up to the November election. If an ad runs, the candidate who it supports or does not attack is required to donate half the cost of the ad to a charity of his opponent’s choice.
Only Sullivan has signed the agreement. The line for Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, lacks a signature. Begich received the proposal Tuesday, but his campaign declined to say if the agreement was being considered.
If Begich doesn’t call off the dogs, neither will Sullivan.
“Obviously, you wouldn’t want to have a situation where all supporters of Mark Begich are coming in, and people supporting my campaign are not,” Sullivan said. “The only way it works and it’s fair is if he signs this document.”
The proposal is modeled after the “People’s Pledge” that Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren signed before the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts. Though he supports the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision, which allows unlimited spending by corporations trying to influence elections, Sullivan said it’s getting out of hand in Alaska.
“To date, more than $20 million has been spent or reserved on the Alaska airwaves, and it’s pretty much even in terms of different sides of the political aisle,” Sullivan told reporters. “But from my perspective, this is too much, ... this amount of money drowns out Alaskan voices.”
Max Croes, a spokesman for the Begich campaign, called Sullivan’s message hypocritical and not sincere.
“Dan Sullivan got nowhere near serious, real reform when he endorsed the Citizen’s United ruling,” Croes said, later adding, “Sullivan is trying to score political points while at the same time telling Alaskans that he doesn’t believe in what he’s doing.”
The Begich campaign sent out an email after Sullivan’s announcement blasting the Republican-frontrunner for endorsing the Citizen’s United decision while saying he wants to limit Outside spending in Alaska.
“Sullivan again tried to tell Alaskans one thing, but then quickly revealed the truth today — he supports allowing corporations to engage in unlimited spending in our elections,” Susanne Fleek-Green, campaign manager for Alaskans for Begich, said in the email.
Sullivan also followed up on his announcement with a tweet that read, “I support Cit. United & strong free speech, but that’s not what the AK Agreement is about. In this race, we need to #LetAlaskansDecide”
Despite being fueled by millions himself through Super PACs, removing outside advertisers from the airwaves could benefit Sullivan, who has raised more money than Begich since entering the race last year.
In the most recent quarterly campaign finance reports, which included figures up to March 31, Begich had $2.8 million in the bank and Sullivan’s campaign had about $1.9 million. Begich has been raising money longer than Sullivan, who entered the race in October. Since then, Sullivan has been garnering much more financial support.
Sullivan has reported $2.55 million in individual contributions and another $134,500 from political action committees since joining the race. Begich has raised $1.89 million in the same span, with about $567,000 coming from PACs.
Sullivan said his proposal is about “focusing on the biggest amounts of money that are the least transparent.”
“If Mark Begich wants to run a personal attack ad against me, he needs to say he approved it,” Sullivan said. “If I’m going to run an ad exposing Mark Begich’s record, then I’m going to put my name on it, as I’ve already been doing.”