Criticism from the campaign to reelect Sen. Mark Begich is apparently not just for Dan Sullivan anymore.
The incumbent senator's campaign turned negative weeks ago on Sullivan -- the former natural resources commissioner seen by many as the Republican frontrunner -- after attack ads and statements from Sullivan's campaign.
But a more recent series of Begich campaign statements sent to reporters seems to be targeting one of Sullivan's primary election opponents, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, more directly. And that might be due to Treadwell closing the gap between himself and Sullivan in the latest poll to be released publicly.
In a written statement this week, the Begich campaign said a digital trademarking company Treadwell started in 1995, Digimarc, lobbied for the controversial REAL ID program, which would require states to provide drivers' license information to a national database. Digimarc earned hundreds of millions of dollars providing technology for REAL ID, the Begich campaign said.
Treadwell often says the government "snoops too much," the Begich campaign said, so why is he profiting from REAL ID, which Alaskans rejected as an invasion of privacy?
In an interview Wednesday, Treadwell said Begich did not understand Digimarc's work or his position on the REAL ID program. Treadwell said he left the company before its lobbying effort, and he told his former coworkers that he disagreed with it and the idea of a national database.
“If you were part of a company that marketed mirrors and somebody used it as a periscope, you know what I mean, to look into somebody’s window, I didn’t look into anybody’s window," Treadwell said. "It’s very clear to me based on polls we’ve seen and the reaction from people, the Begich, Sullivan and (Joe) Miller camps are focusing on me because we’re not going away."
The Begich campaign statement was one of three in the past week criticizing Treadwell directly, without mentioning Sullivan or the other top Republican candidate, Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller.
"We take all of our opponents seriously," said Max Croes, spokesman for the Begich campaign. "We're not looking at the polls and speculating on the Republican primary, just trying to hold all of our opponents accountable."
A poll out last week by Anchorage-based Hellenthal and Associates put Treadwell just 4.3 percent behind Sullivan. It also showed Treadwell beating Begich in a head-to-head race, 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent. The poll's sample size was 392 registered Alaska voters and had a margin of error of 4.94 percent. That poll also asked voters how likely they were to vote in the Republican primary -- which would increase the margin for error as the sample size shrank -- and among those "absolutely certain" to vote in the primary, Treadwell and Sullivan were nearly even.
A June poll of 500 voters, paid for by the Sullivan campaign and conducted by Portland, Ore.-based Moore Information, showed Sullivan leading Treadwell by 23 percent among likely Republican primary voters.