Club for Growth Backs Sullivan in Alaska Race

Club for Growth Backs Sullivan in Alaska Race
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Club for Growth is backing Dan Sullivan in the marquee Alaska Senate race, giving the Republican a boost in a three-way primary to challenge incumbent Democrat Mark Begich.

The endorsement marks one of the few times this cycle that the conservative group has rallied behind an establishment favorite. While the National Republican Senatorial Committee doesn’t officially get involved in primaries where no GOP incumbent is running, some senior members have helped Sullivan raise money.

The endorsee was most recently the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and is competing against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller, the 2010 Tea Party favorite who won the GOP nomination (and a Club for Growth endorsement) that year but lost the general election to incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski, who ran as a write-in candidate. Sullivan also served in the State Department during the George W. Bush administration and later as Alaska attorney general.

While polling in the 49th state is often scattered and unreliable, Sullivan does appear to be leading the GOP pack among voters and in fundraising.

In picking Sullivan this cycle, Club President Chris Chocola called him a “fiscal conservative with a stellar track record in Alaska,” someone who “has fought for pro-growth tax reform, taken on ObamaCare in court, and beaten back federal overreach by Obama’s EPA.”

Begich is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents this cycle, and the race could help determine the balance of power in the Senate. The Democrat is well-poised financially, however, ending last year with $2.8 million in his account.

“Just replacing Mark Begich with another Republican is not enough -- the next Republican Senate majority must consist of the right kind of Republicans -- Senators like Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, Mike Lee, Tom Coburn, and Rand Paul,” Chocola said in a statement. “Chris McDaniel, Ben Sasse, Tom Cotton, and now Dan Sullivan in Alaska are the next generation of candidates needed to ensure not only a Republican Senate majority, but also a fiscally conservative majority within that majority.”

In several primary races this cycle, Club for Growth is at odds with the GOP’s official campaign arm, creating what the establishment wing sees as unnecessary interference in winnable races. For example, the Club has sponsored Republican attorney Bryan Smith in his challenge to incumbent Mike Simpson, a conservative Idaho congressman. The group also endorsed Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel in his challenge to longtime Sen. Thad Cochran.

But the Club has also been an early backer of Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, the establishment’s choice to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. The group endorsed Cotton’s House bid in 2012, serving as a key financial resource in the congressman’s first campaign. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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