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After Begich attack, Miller comes to Sullivan's aid in U.S. Senate race

After incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released an ad that includes a clip of defeated Republican primary candidate Joe Miller attacking Republican nominee Dan Sullivan in a debate, Miller’s campaign called the ad “completely disingenuous” and said it should be pulled down. Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News

Joe Miller is wasting no time coming to the aid of the man who beat him in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate nomination in Alaska.

After incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released an ad that includes a clip of Miller attacking Republican nominee Dan Sullivan in a debate, Miller’s campaign responded Friday with a press release calling the ad “completely disingenuous” and saying it should be pulled down.

The 30-second ad uses clips of both Miller and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, the third major Republican primary candidate, to attack Sullivan.

The shot of Miller comes after a narrator asks, “And about the billionaire Koch brothers supporting Dan Sullivan?”

“I really think the question is: Where is the money coming from, and why is it being given?” Miller says in the ad.

The press release says Miller was answering a general question in a debate about how to limit the influence of Outside money on Alaska campaigns.

“My words were ripped out of context,” Miller is quoted as saying.

“Joe was merely pointing out that Alaskans need to be discerning with respect to who is giving the money and what they hope to get in return for their investment,” added Randy DeSoto, a spokesman for Miller.

In the debate, after Miller asked the rhetorical question, he answered by referring to several Outside individuals and organizations that have supported Sullivan, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and American Crossroads, which was co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.

Miller does not refer to the Koch brothers or the Outside group tied to them, Americans for Prosperity, which has produced advertisements targeting Begich, including one campaign that started running Thursday.

A spokesman for Begich’s campaign said, “We stand by the ad.”

“It wasn’t taken out of context at all,” said the spokesman, Max Croes. “Joe Miller directly said Alaskans should look at where Dan Sullivan’s money comes from.”

The back-and-forth comes after a flurry of politicking this week among Sullivan, Miller and Begich.

Croes said in a follow-up email that Begich left a message for Joe Miller on Friday “to say he ran a good race and to seek common ground on issues like protecting Alaskans’ privacy rights, which are important to both of them.”

Miller, meanwhile, had coffee with Sullivan earlier in the week. A spokesman for Sullivan, Mike Anderson, said the meeting was “positive” but he had no additional details.

Asked about Miller’s press release, Anderson, in his own emailed statement, said, “Mark Begich is desperate to talk about anything but his failed record -- and his most recent ad is just the latest example.”

“Dan and Joe both know it, and they are united in their desire to help retire Mark Begich and get this country back on track,” Anderson said.

Marc Hellenthal, an Anchorage Republican political consultant who’s not affiliated with any of the U.S. Senate candidates, questioned whether Sullivan would get much of a boost from Miller, who has been stuck with high negative ratings in recent polls.

“Certainly, his consultant looking at a poll would not say, ‘Go sidle up to Joe Miller,’ ” Hellenthal said. Referring to Miller’s press release, Hellenthal added, “If we asked Begich what he thought of it, you’d see a big smile on his face.”

Anderson declined to respond to Hellenthal’s comments.