As Alaskans vote today to decide the Republican Party’s challenger to incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, outside forces are dominating the contentious race — the outcome of which could determine control of the U.S. Senate.
More than 90 percent of the 16,000-plus ads aired so far this cycle by political action committees, super PACs and nonprofits have come from groups based outside Alaska or that receive the bulk of their funding from non-Alaskans, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of advertising data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG.
That’s more than the roughly 15,000 ads that candidates themselves have collectively aired in a state that's home to just 740,000 people and, in Anchorage, the nation's 145th largest media market.
Both Republicans and Democrats are benefiting from the money from “outside,” as many Alaskans call the Lower 48.
For instance, half a dozen Washington, D.C., powerhouses have together aired more than 6,500 ads attacking Begich or touting the Republican frontrunner, Dan Sullivan.
Three of these groups — Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Partners and the American Energy Alliance — fall within conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch's political network. Super PAC American Crossroads and nonprofit outfit Crossroads GPS are tied to GOP strategist Karl Rove. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is headquartered across the street from the White House.
Meanwhile, a pro-Begich super PAC called Put Alaska First has aired more than 6,000 ads promoting Begich and attacking his would-be Republican rivals, according to Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks ads that both overtly call for the election or defeat of candidates as well as "issue ads" that simply mention candidates.
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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.