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August 12, 2014 AT 12:23 PM
Needing to net six seats in November to regain control of the U.S. Senate, Republicans ought to be able to count on reliably conservative Alaska as something of a gimme. But they'll first have to settle on a candidate. And as the Republicans on next Tuesday's ballot snipe, bicker and fight their way toward the primary, some are worried their candidate — no matter who it might be — will emerge too weakened to defeat Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. Former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner Dan Sullivan has the backing of major Republican donors and Washington-based power brokers, including Karl Rove. The Marine reservist, is the target of populist, socially conservative broadsides from tea party favorite Joe Miller, who pulled off a surprise upset of Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in state's 2010 primary, only to see her win the general election in an historic write-in campaign. In the middle is Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who has tried to paint Sullivan — born in Ohio, but with roots in the state that date to the 1990s — as an outsider.