POLITICS: PennAve

Sen. Mark Begich hits Koch brothers in first re-election campaign ad

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Politics,Alaska,2014 Elections,Campaigns,PennAve,Rebecca Berg,Energy and Environment,Koch brothers,Oil,Americans for Prosperity,Mark Begich

Hoping to counter hundreds of thousands of dollars in negative-ad spending in Alaska by the conservative group Americans For Prosperity, Sen. Mark Begich's re-election campaign will air its first television advertisement of the midterm election cycle.

The ad, "Into The Ground," hits AFP's founders, the billionaires and Republican mega-donors Charles and David Koch, for leveling dubious claims against Begich in more than $850,000-worth of ads during the past few months. The TV spot also highlights the recent shutdown of a Koch Industries-owned refinery in Alaska.

"I don't go down to tell them what to do," one man says of the Koch brothers in the ad, "and I expect them not to come up to Alaska and tell us what to do."

One recent AFP ad targeting Begich featured an actor posing as an Alaska voter. In another, a narrator urged Alaskans to "tell Sen. Begich to keep his word and stop supporting a carbon tax," a characterization of Begich's stance that is an exaggeration at best. Begich has not been on record supporting such a measure.

Begich is not the first vulnerable Democratic senator who has been forced onto television by an AFP negative-ad blitz. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., a major target of the group, released her first television ad in December, much earlier than is normal, to fight back against AFP ads tying her to Obamacare.

Unlike Landrieu's ad, which alluded to the Koch brothers but did not name them, Begich's television spot is reflective of a recent Democratic strategy to directly tie the Kochs to the Republican candidates on whose behalf they're spending.

The effort received a boost recently from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who coined the tongue-in-cheek line, "Republicans are addicted to Koch." On Monday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee rolled out a new website, KochAddition.com.

Democrats will need all that firepower and more to contend with AFP, which has already reported spending more than $30 million nationwide on ads in this midterm election cycle. In a statement Monday, AFP's Alaska arm vowed to continue running ads against Begich in the coming months.

"We will continue to hold Sen. Begich accountable for pushing Obama's big-government agenda in Alaska," said AFP Alaska spokesperson Heidi Gay.

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