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ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska Sen. Mark Begich won't pull down an ad featuring Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, even though she says she objects to him using her picture in a campaign ad.
"The ad is factual, it talks about the 80 percent of the time we vote together," said Begich, who's one of a half dozen endangered Democratic incumbents whose political fate will determine whether Republicans take control of the Senate in the midterm elections. "And that is laying out what we've been saying and what Alaskans have been telling me they love, and that's a delegation working together."
Asked if he would pull it down, Begich said, "No. I think it's very factual."
Murkowski's lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Begich's campaign on Thursday morning demanding that Begich stop airing an ad that claims Begich and Murkowski vote the same way in the Senate 80 percent of the time. The spot, called "Great Team," includes a photo of Murkowski and Begich together in what appears to be an official Senate office.
"The advertisement is factually incorrect. It also misses Senator Murkowski's image, and implies her support, without her permission--and in fact, over her known objections," the letter reads. "Finally, the advertisement prominently features a photograph taken in Senator Murkowski's official U.S. Senate office, an apparent violation of federal law and Senate rules."
In the interview, Begich disputed that claim, saying his campaign had purchased the photo from the AP, making its use legal. Senators aren't allowed to use official resources for campaign purposes.
Begich is locked in a close race for reelection in a state that voted overwhelmingly against President Barack Obama in 2012. Republicans accuse him of voting with Obama more than 97 percent of the time -- the statistic the Murkowski ad seems to refute.
The Republican primary still isn't settled; Marine reservist Dan Sullivan, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller are vying to take on Begich in the fall. The primary is Aug. 19.