The attacks between Republican U.S. Senate candidates Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan are heating up, with Treadwell going on the offensive Tuesday on a radio show and in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
In the newspaper interview, Treadwell made some of the sharpest comments yet in the lead-up to the three-way GOP primary election on Aug. 19, which also includes Joe Miller. The winner will take on incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat who faces only token opposition in his own primary.
Treadwell, Alaska's sitting lieutenant governor, told the Wall Street Journal that Sullivan should never have entered the Senate race, and "he's just not ready.
"The arrogance of coming in here and saying, 'I'm your gift, I'm gonna run.' I don't think he should have run," Treadwell said.
He also attacked Sullivan's Alaska roots, saying the former attorney general and natural resources commissioner, who spent time in Washington, D.C., between 2002 and 2009 working for President George W. Bush, "just got here.
"He can talk about sending letters and filing lawsuits, but there's not much that he's accomplished here in this state," Treadwell told the newspaper. "And anything that he has accomplished he's accomplished because the governor and I got elected, OK?"
"He was saying, 'Hire me because I'm an outsider,"' Treadwell said on the show. "Now he's trying to say, 'Don't worry that I'm not an outsider. I'm an insider.' "
In an emailed statement, Sullivan spokesman Mike Anderson responded: "It's unfortunate that Mead Treadwell continues to take the low road by joining Mark Begich and the Democrats' false personal attacks on Dan Sullivan."
"Treadwell knows Dan's record, and what he and the governor have all accomplished together to develop our natural resources and create jobs," Anderson said. "Dan will continue traveling the state talking with voters about how we can all move Alaska forward, and we encourage Mead to do the same."
On Wednesday, political journalist Amanda Coyne released tracts of separate emails that Treadwell apparently sent in 2004 inviting recipients to a breakfast in Anchorage with Sullivan.
Treadwell describes Sullivan as "an Alaskan" in one of the emails. Another quotes Treadwell saying: "Dan is a good guy."
Last week, Sullivan's campaign sent mailers across the state attacking Treadwell for his ties to a company that received money from the 2009 federal stimulus package, which Treadwell has criticized. Recent polls have shown the race between Sullivan and Treadwell tightening, with Sullivan's lead shrinking since earlier this year.