FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A Republican former state attorney general, Dan Sullivan, defeated two challengers in Tuesday’s primary election here, including a candidate supported by the Tea Party, and will face Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, in November in a closely watched race that could determine which party controls the Senate.
Sullivan, 49, was backed by political groups that ran ads attacking Begich and mostly ignoring the other contenders in the primary race: Joe Miller, a Tea Party favorite who came in second, and the state’s lieutenant governor, Mead Treadwell, who was a distant third.
Begich's outside backers in turn mostly went after Sullivan, with a combined exchange of salvos that set the template, in acrid arguments and copious dollars, for the battle now headed toward the general election.
With most of the votes counted, Sullivan had about 40 percent of the ballots cast, to 32 percent for Miller and 25 percent for Treadwell, who conceded a few hours after the polls closed. Miller won the Senate primary in 2010 against Senator Lisa Murkowski but lost to her in the general election after she ran a write-in campaign.
A lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps reserves, Sullivan ran as a military man and on a promise to defend Alaskans against “Obama administration overreach.” He painted Begich as a faithful backer of the president, which to many Alaskans is no small slur.
Begich, 52, a former mayor of Anchorage who was elected to a first term in 2008, emphasized his Alaskan roots, being born to a family that arrived before statehood in 1959. He also courted Alaska Natives, who tend to support Democrats; urban voters in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city; and women.