Senate Democrats have long been facing an uphill battle in the 2014 midterms with the most competitive races on Republican turf and President Obama's approval numbers in the toilet. While it is not surprising that Democrats in these states are doing what they can to try to distance themselves from Obama, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is taking things to another level.
For Begich, merely disagreeing with Obama is not enough. But how about putting him on full blast and vowing to puncture him in a certain area?
“I’ll be a thorn in his [posterior],” Begich (D-Alaska) said in an interview Sunday with the Washington Post. “There’s times when I’m a total thorn, you know, and he doesn’t appreciate it.”
Begich's tough talk is ironic coming from someone who voted with President Obama 97 percent of the time last year. Since his election to the Senate in 2008, Begich has marched in lockstep with Obama on every key issue including the Affordable Care Act, the stimulus bill, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, and immigration reform. Nothing in his past votes suggests he will come anywhere close to needling Obama.
Polling has been scarce in this race, but it is clear Begich is quite worried about his political survival. He faces a strong potential challenger in GOP frontrunner Dan Sullivan, a Marine Corps officer, former Alaska Attorney General and a commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. On top of his strong political resume, Sullivan has also managed to outraise Begich so far this year and unite both the establishment and tea party wings of the Republican Party. Should Sullivan win the GOP primary on August 19, Begich will find himself fighting for his political life.
Begich also cannot point to any major legislative achievements. Despite serving in the Senate for over five years, only one of Begich's bills has been passed into law. The passed bill renamed a courthouse in Anchorage. So Begich is going to have to rely on the fact he is a lifelong Alaskan, consituent services, and occasional Obama-bashing to win over Alaskan voters.
Begich throwing Obama under the bus is not surprising because politicians in trouble like to have a scapegoat. But he cannot hide from his record.