Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, already among the most endangered Democratic incumbents, is dealing with a self-inflicted wound. The senator's campaign pulled ads from Alaska television stations, following demands from a crime victim's family, the Washington Post reports.
The case at the center of the state's fiercely contested Senate race is ugly: two grandparents murdered and their two-year-old granddaughter sexually assaulted. The 25-year-old man arrested for the crimes, Jerry Active, should by all accounts not have been free. In 2009, Active was convicted, among other things, of attempted sexual assault of a minor. Given a previous 2007 felony conviction, Active should not have been eligible for probation - but a database error admitted by the state meant that he was sent free. Last May, he allegedly committed the murders and assault.
The attorney general at the time of the plea bargain that freed Active in 2010 was Republican Dan Sullivan, Begich's opponent in the Senate race. A now-deleted page from Begich's campaign Web site (visible through Google's cache) shows Sullivan's name on the plea deal signed in March of 2010 - though the document is signed by an assistant district attorney, Gustaf Olson.
A Sullivan campaign spokesman argued that the ad was "shameful and deceitful" and that the error that resulted in Active's shortened sentence was made before he assumed office. The attack drew comparisons to President George H.W. Bush's 1988 Willie Horton ad, which accused then-opponent Michael Dukakis of letting Horton commit rape while free on a furlough program Dukakis supported as governor of Massachusetts.
Republicans are slamming Begich for his campaign's handling of the now-pulled ad.
AK Sen. Mark Begich (D) forced to pull ad after "blistering letter" from lawyer of assault victim - http://t.co/ZbKQ778UBW- Kevin Madden (@KevinMaddenDC) September 2, 2014