By Becky Hogan
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said this week that she hasn’t ruled out a Senate run against first-term Democrat Senator Mark Begich.
But Alaska is already facing a crowded GOP Senate primary as several Republican candidates have announced their decision to run–Tea Party candidate Joe Miller, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan.
Candidates in the now three-way, possible four-way race represent every corner of the GOP ideological spectrum and they are all aiming to unseat Begich.
Joe Miller is running again after a failed Seante bid in 2010. And splitting the establishment wing of the party are Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan. Sullivan announced his plans to run in mid-September.
Palin is still lingering the background, though political observers don’t think she’ll jump in the race.
The competition for Begich’s seat is indicative of the Republican party’s struggles across the country, and a growing trend in which establishment candidates in key races face serious challenges from conservative insurgents.
The race is already getting a lot of national attention because Republicans need to win the Alaska Senate seat and a handful of others to in order to clinch a majority in the Senate. The Republican National Committee has plans to set up an office there this month.
Not too surprisingly Begich has received the most media attention over the past month, but as an incumbent Senator he’s likely to get that kind of attention especially with some of the key issues facing the Senate recently like the budget fight and earlier in the month the Syrian crisis.
Interestingly, Palin, for all her notoriety in the national media, has seen very little coverage in state news–possibly signaling that Alaskans aren’t taking her possible bid seriously.
And when it comes to establishment GOP versus Tea Party wing, the establishment candidate Dan Sullivan seems to be getting a lot more press. He did just announce his plans to run this month, but it’s still an interesting trend in the early stages of the Alaska Senate field.
Many question whether GOP in-fighting would weaken the party’s chances–or worse give the primary to libertarian candidate Miller and then face a tough election against Begich.
Sullivan is expected to appeal to party moderates. And many think that Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell might attract the GOP establishment as well, splitting these votes down the middle and possibly making the way for libertarian Joe Miller much easier.
When it comes to social media, Miller is the only candidate that has mobilized on social media sites so far. Although, he has run once before so perhaps he understands the value that social media plays in a Senate campaign. We’ll be watching the race to see how other candidates continue to garner media attention and social media engagement.
The Republican primary will be held almost a year from now next August, so voters will have plenty of time to choose their candidate to unseat Begich. Let the GOP bloodbath begin.