Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) would presumably like to run against Joe Miller (R) in the November election. Miller, the GOP’s surprising 2010 nominee who eventually lost to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) write-in bid, emerged from that campaign extremely unpopular and now fares worse than his primary opponents in general-election polling against Begich. At the very least, Begich’s supporters see former state attorney general Dan Sullivan as the biggest threat in Tuesday’s three-way Republican Senate primary in the state, judging by ads run by the group Put Alaska First are any indication. The pro-Begich PAC has been hammering Sullivan, in a move that some Republicans critique as undue “meddling” in their primary. A better descriptor than “meddling” might be: How politics works.
There are two reasons for candidates (and their supporters) to get involved in the opposing primary. One is to help ensure a more favorable general election opponent. And the other is simply to start bashing your likely opponent early. Which of the two Put America First is doing isn’t clear — and doesn’t really matter.
Such primary-ad “meddling” has a long history. The goal of those on the receiving end is clear: to paint the ads as somehow unethical or undemocratic. But that ignores the long history of such “meddling.” Recently, the story has been Democrats targeting Republicans — but that’s only recently.