ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A tea party attempt to overcome a mainstream Republican came up short in Alaska as former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan won the GOP primary to become his party's candidate to take on U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in the fall. Sullivan entered the primary the presumed front-runner, with the backing of national GOP powerbrokers and a huge cash advantage over his rivals.
On Tuesday night, Sullivan defeated tea party favorite Joe Miller, who made a late push reminiscent to his 2010 primary upset of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, meanwhile, was third. The race is important to Republicans nationally because Begich, a first-term incumbent Democrat, is seen as vulnerable and the GOP needs a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate. Begich easily won his primary Tuesday. Sullivan, who also had the support of Karl Rove and groups like Club for Growth, also has served as a state Natural Resources commissioner. Former Gov. Sarah Palin had endorsed Miller, who was largely considered a wild card and long shot.