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9/23/14 Alaska's U.S. Senate candidates seek an edge among rural Alaska voters

U.S. Senate candidates Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan woo Alaska Native voters

As KYUK's Ben Matheson reports, this year's U.S. Senate race in Alaska is shattering spending records, with tens of millions of dollars from outside Alaska going mostly toward TV ads. With less than two months to go before the general election, the two candidates are also seeking an edge on the ground in rural Alaska.

Incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Mark Begich's campaign has 13 field offices across Alaska, double the number in the 2008 election. He visited Bethel to open an office there in July. Office staff coordinates volunteers going door-to-door soliciting votes for Democratic candidates, including Begich. The Democratic party is also advertising for part-time village-based staff.

Republican Dan Sullivan's campaign manager says the candidate is taking the rural campaign seriously. No campaign staff, and none of its five offices are in rural Alaska. Instead, his campaign manager says "super-volunteers," that is, prominent Alaska Native people, are spreading the candidate's message. Sullivan has not yet visited Bethel, but his campaign says he will soon. 

Atwood Chair of Journalism professor Mark Trahant, of the University of Alaska Anchorage,  says voter turnout will decide the winner; whichever candidate gets out the most voters will win. He says Millennials, voters roughly aged 18-33, and social media will be pivotal in the election.


Federal court gives state tight deadlines in Alaska Native language voting rights case

Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued an order in a voting rights case saying all the English language election materials must be provided in Yup'ik dialects and in Gwitchin Athabascan. The state says it will meet the requirements of the order. With the election less than two months away, the state has some tight deadlines to meet.

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