Sullivan defeats Begich in Alaska

The Republicans increased their new Senate majority in the early morning hours when the AP called the Alaska Senate race for Dan Sullivan.Via Becky Bohrer:

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mark Begich couldn’t pull off another election surprise as voter disapproval of President Barack Obama helped push him and other Democrats out of office.

Republican Dan Sullivan, a Marine Corps reservist and assistant secretary of state under President George W. Bush, defeated the first-term incumbent as part of a wave in which Republicans picked up eight seats and regained control of the Senate. Another Senate race is yet to be decided in Louisiana.

The Alaska race was too close to call on Election Night last week, with Sullivan up by about 8,100 votes, but it became evident Tuesday when the state began counting about 20,000 of absentee and questioned ballots that Begich could not overcome Sullivan.

In a statement, Sullivan said he ran a campaign Alaskans could be proud of and, moving forward, “I want to emphasize that my door will always be open to all Alaskans.”

“While we have challenges to address, the opportunities in Alaska and our country are limitless. Today, we are going to begin the process of turning our country around,” he said.

Begich, who has returned to Washington for the lame-duck session, won office in 2008. That year, he went to bed on Election Night trailing a wounded but still powerful Sen. Ted Stevens, who days before the election had been found guilty by a jury in a federal corruption trial. About two weeks later, Stevens conceded, with Begich winning by fewer than 4,000 votes. A judge later tossed the case against Stevens, causing many Republicans to see Begich’s election as a fluke.

Begich wouldn’t concede the race early Wednesday morning.

Of course he hasn’t conceded yet. A firm grip on reality has never been one of Begich’s strong suits. Perhaps when he shows up in Washington in January and finds Sullivan’s name on his office door he’ll get the message. Who knows. With Begich’s defeat, the Republicans have now picked up eight seats in the upper chamber and are likely to pick up one more on December 6th in Louisiana.

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