Yesterday my colleague, Leon Wolf, posted a story titled Democrats of an Unknown Party Affiliation in which he notes the growing phenomenon, in what is shaping up to be a wave year in favor of the GOP, of Democrats campaigning by obscuring their party identification. In Alaska, Democrat Senator Mark Begich has gone one further. He has run a campaign ad featuring nominally Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski extolling how well he works with her
Begich is running scared. He is holding a tiny lead, about 3 points, over his presumed challenger, former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan (Alaska's primary in August 19), and once a candidate is selected this three point lead will more likely than not vanish.
Murkowski is not terribly amused. In what may be an unprecedented act, Murkowski has sent Begich a cease and desist letter demanding that he stop using her image in his ads:
The letter charges that Murkowski’s image was used misleadingly and without her permission, and that the individual in the ad is not a lifelong GOP supporter but is in fact undeclared.
“The advertisement is factually incorrect,” it reads. “It also misuses Senator Murkowski’s image, and implies her support, without her permission —and in fact, over her known objections. Finally, this advertisement prominently features a photograph taken in Senator Murkowski’s official U.S. Senate office, an apparent violation of Federal law and Senate rules.”
The photo in question, however, appears to be hosted by the Associated Press.
Begich does have a point. According to the Heritage Action Scorecard he has a rating of 8% and Murkowski has a 24% rating so Murkowski, making her the second most liberal GOP senator behind Maine's Susan Collins with a 23% score, votes with Begich much more often than she votes with her GOP colleagues.
Murkowski has announced her intention to work to unseat Begich after the primary and for his part, Begich has said he will continue running the ad:
Begich's campaign fired back, giving no sign they'll pull the ad. A spokesman pointed out that Murkowski didn't take issue with the ad's claim that the two vote together 80 percent of the time and that she hasn't complained at all while Alaska GOP front-runner Dan Sullivan (R) used her in ads the last few months.
"Alaskans have responded positively to the message that Alaska's congressional delegation works together across party lines to do what's best for Alaska," Begich spokesman Max Croes said. "Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich vote together as much as 80 percent of the time and more than any other Democrat-Republican pair in the U.S. Senate, a fact proven by an independent fact check organization."