Update, Nov. 17: While Alaska Sen. Mark Begich at first declined to concede to Republican challenger Dan Sullivan, saying he would wait until all the votes had been counted, the incumbent Democrat released a statement Monday admitting defeat.
“When I spoke with Dan Sullivan today, I encouraged him to adopt a bipartisan resolve in the Senate,” the one-term Senator said in a statement Monday night. “Alaska is ill-served by the partisan fights that don’t reflect our state’s unique needs and priorities.”
Republican Dan Sullivan is the apparent winner in the Alaska Senate race unseating Democrat Mark Begich, NBC News declared early Wednesday morning.
Sullivan led Begich by about 8,100 in last week’s midterm election; after roughly 20,000 absentee ballots, early voting, and questioned ballots had been counted, it became clear that Begich would not overcome his challenger in the final count.
Alaska—once considered a key state for the GOP to regain control of the Senate—is the icing on the cake for a party that already gained the six necessary seats to take back the upper chamber. Alaska is their seventh gain and Louisiana looks likely to be the eighth.
In a statement, Sullivan said he was humbled by the win. “I want to emphasize that my door will always be open to all Alaskans,” he said.
Sullivan, a former attorney general and Marine, ran a confident campaign promising to bolster the country’s energy industry and capitalizing on GOP star power—both tea party darling Sen. Ted Cruz and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaigned for the candidate. He tied Begich to the unpopular president (a regular attack said he voted with Obama 97% of the time, a figure that counts a significant number of federal nominations confirmed by the Senate) and Democratic leaders, while the one-term incumbent used his significant local clout to try and cast himself as an independent with seniority in the Senate.
Alaska is a notoriously difficult state to poll; in 2012 it took two weeks to count the ballots, because thousands vote absentee from rural areas where polling sites aren’t convenient.