The geographically remote Alaska harbors plenty of animosity for the federal government. No doubt that's the reason why the not-especially libertarian U.S. Chamber of Commerce turned to the great libertarian hope for 2016, Senator Rand Paul, for its ad on behalf of the Republican challenger in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race, Dan Sullivan.
Rand Paul and U.S. Chamber Bury The HatchetFour years ago, the Chamber endorsed Senator Rand Paul's Republican primary opponent in Kentucky, but Senator Paul and the Chamber are burying the hatchet to snatch Alaska's Senate seat of out the hands of Democrat incumbent, Senator Mark Begich.
The ad is a paint-by-numbers attack ad out of the Republican playbook. "Washington is horribly broken," says Paul, "but nothing's going to change when Mark Begich votes with his liberal Democrat friends 91% of the time."
Is Alaska Really Rand Paul Country?The Chamber trades heavily on Senator Paul's conservative star power in this ad. Is Paul right for Alaska?
An August poll of Alaskan Republican voters gave Paul only 15 percent support in a hypothetical 2016 presidential primary. While that puts him in a statistical tie for first with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, 15 percent still amounts to a small faction. Given Dan Sullivan is competing in a general election against Mark Begich, Paul's fervent base of support may not be broad enough. He may be able to boost Republican turnout, or hold down the numbers of the Libertarian Party nominee, Mark Fish, who is only receiving about three percent in polls. It is doubtful Paul can do much to win over any independents or undecided swing voters.
Paul's effect on the Senate race may end up being minimal, but a blossoming relationship between the Chamber’s corporate following and Paul’s libertarian following may have an outsized impact for Republicans in 2016.