Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) is out with the first TV ad of his reelection campaign, taking aim at the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, who have come under increasing criticism from national Democrats in recent days for their influence in the political process.
Begich's new ad comes after American for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the Koch brothers, ran two negative ads against the senator.
The first AFP spot featured a woman looking into the camera and saying, "Senator Begich didn't listen. How can I ever trust him again? It just isn’t fair. Alaska deserves better."
The woman, however, turned out to be an actress from Maryland, rather than an actual Alaska voter.
The second AFP ad went after Begich for being "on record supporting a carbon tax ... that will cost the average family over $2,000 annually," a claim that FactCheck.org called "not true."
"First it was a D.C. actress pretending to be an Alaskan,” says a narrator in the new Begich ad. "Now ads attacking Mark Begich on a carbon tax have been called false and not true."
Democrats have been hammering the Koch brothers, whose network raised at least $407 million in the 2012 campaign. In context, that's nearly as much spent by Mitt Romney's presidential campaign during that election cycle.
On the Senate floor Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Republican Party was "addicted to Koch." The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which estimates that the Koch brothers have spent about $30 million this year targeting Senate Democrats, also launched a campaign around Reid's quip.
The new Begich ad targets Koch for shutting down the Flint Hills oil refinery, which is owned by Koch Industries.
"They come into town, buy our refinery and just run it into the ground, leaving a mess. A lot of Alaskans are losing jobs, and I'm definitely concerned about the drinking water. I don't go down and tell them what to do; I expect them not to come up to Alaska and tell us what to do," various people say in the ad.
In response, AFP Alaska spokesperson Heidi Gay said in a statement, "It's disappointing that Senator Begich's first message to Alaskans is a Washington-style, negative attack ad that does nothing to address any of the real concerns voters have about his record."
"Nowhere in his ad does Senator Begich give a coherent answer on why he pushed for a price on greenhouse gas emissions, or voted twice to make it easier to implement a carbon tax," Gay added. "With Alaskans paying some of the highest energy prices in the nation, it would be nice for Senator Begich to be honest with us and stop trying to distract from his record."
According to Politico, Begich's TV ad is running statewide in the Anchorage and Fairbanks markets.
On the Republican side, a handful of candidates are competing for the GOP nomination, including Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, former Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan and attorney Joe Miller -- who ran unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in 2010.