JUNEAU — U.S. Sen. Mark Begich's campaign released a new TV ad Tuesday, seeking to draw a contrast between the Democrat and two of his Republican rivals on women's issues as he looks to retain his seat in November.
It is Begich's first TV ad to include Republican Mead Treadwell, who is running against Dan Sullivan and Joe Miller for his party's nomination in the Aug. 19 primary. The ad also singles out Sullivan, a former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner, who has been the presumed GOP front-runner and a favorite target in the last few months for the pro-Begich super PAC Put Alaska First.
The TV spot, a companion to online ads and a new website from Begich, touches on the two Republican candidates' anti-abortion positions and support for defunding Planned Parenthood. Begich supports a woman's access to an abortion.
In recent weeks, Begich's campaign has stepped up its criticism of Treadwell, mockingly referring to him as "Dr. Treadwell" in press releases on issues related to birth control and abortion.
Treadwell said he's included in the ads now because Begich sees Treadwell closing the gap on Sullivan.
"His strategy for re-election includes defining his opponents, trying to find wedge issues with women, Alaska Natives, fishermen and union members," Treadwell said in an email to The Associated Press.
"I won't let him do it," he said, noting that Begich's facts are wrong in the ad and the website. One example, Treadwell said, is that he doesn't have a problem with contraceptive coverage in insurance plans, but he does "have problems with government mandates which trample on religious freedoms."
Sullivan's camp didn't respond to a request for comment.
Begich spokesman Max Croes said Begich's campaign isn't speculating who will win the Republican primary but is trying to point out the "distinct differences" between him and the Republicans.
The ad does not mention Miller. Croes said voters are familiar with Miller's views from his unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid in 2010.