- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Former Alaska first lady Bella Hammond likens Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich to her husband in a new campaign ad.

Hammond says her husband, the late Republican Gov. Jay Hammond, was not party-oriented. She says she was impressed by Begich wanting to work across party lines. She says it reminded her of Jay Hammond’s attitude, and endorsed Begich.

Jay Hammond was a driving force behind creation of the Alaska Permanent Fund, the nest egg the state built from its oil wealth. He is often remembered as a strong leader and statesman by politicians from both parties.

Begich, who is facing GOP rival Dan Sullivan, has sought to cast himself as an independent voice for Alaska. His critics have tied him to President Barack Obama and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

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