- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich agree on many issues specific to Alaska. But the Republican said there’s a “real departure” in where the two stand on a number of national issues.

Murkowski was responding to a recent Begich ad highlighting their relationship. Begich, in recent campaign stops and interviews, has said the two vote together more than any other split-party delegation, in trying to show that they can put politics aside for the good of Alaska.

Begich, a first-term incumbent, is in the midst of what is expected to be a hotly contested re-election bid, with Republicans seeing the seat as key to their efforts to win back control of the Senate. The campaign also has run an ad highlighting his support from former North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker, a Republican.

Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News (https://bit.ly/1kvIHyP ) in a story Tuesday that the Senate has taken a lot of procedural votes this year and her willingness to call for up-or-down votes on some of the president’s nominees has influenced the numbers cited by Begich’s campaign.

She said it’s all in how one shapes the numbers.

Still, she praised Begich’s work on Alaska-specific issues, like trying to stop the Air Force from relocating fighter jets from Fairbanks to Anchorage and fighting a proposal that would have increased costs to rural communities for mail delivery.

When it comes to their positions on the appropriate role of government in people’s lives, she said, “that’s where you’re going to see a distinction.”

Murkowski has said she wants a Republican to replace Begich.

The campaign says the two have voted together 80 percent of the time this year, a figure representing all roll call votes when both senators were present. A separate set of figures pointed out by a campaign spokesman, compiled by the website OpenCongress, shows Begich and Murkowski voting the same 65 percent of the time since the start of 2013.

The figure is around 60 percent when votes going back to 2009 are included, said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He cited figures he said his group gathered from Congressional Quarterly.

“It’s the only reasonable way to measure this kind of thing,” Dayspring said in an email.

Begich spokesman Max Croes said Dayspring’s group consistently attacks Begich for voting with the president 97 percent of the time, a figure that relies on only 2013 data. “If the NRSC is saying our analysis is insufficient, would they now say the same about the 97 percent claim?” Croes wrote in an email.

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Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.adn.com


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