Another Senate Loss for Democrats

Dan Sullivan's victory over Mark Begich means Republicans will have at least 53 seats in January. They could grab another one in Louisiana next month.

Republican Dan Sullivan, the declared winner in Alaska (Ted S. Warren/AP)

The rolling Democratic nightmare that is Election 2014 took another sour turn with the declaration on Wednesday morning that Republican Dan Sullivan had ousted Senator Mark Begich in Alaska.

The Associated Press called the race for Sullivan, the state's former attorney general, almost exactly a week after the polls had closed. He had maintained a lead of around 8,000 votes after an additional 20,000 absentee, early vote, and contested ballots were counted, according to the wire service, which determined that Begich would not close the gap with the thousands of votes that remain to be tallied.

Begich was not conceding yet, however, and he kept up a statement on his website pledging "to make sure that all votes legally cast by Alaskans are counted." When Begich first won the Senate seat in 2008, his victory over Ted Stevens was not declared until two weeks after Election Day, when he was initially trailing.

For Democrats, the loss was expected, as they had little hope of keeping a seat in heavily Republican Alaska once the scale of their nationwide defeat last week had become clear. And Begich's ouster may not be the party's final indignity: Senator Mary Landrieu is fighting to hold her seat in a December 6 run-off against Republican Bill Cassidy in Louisiana. Cassidy, a member of the House, is favored in the race, and in an ominous sign for Landrieu, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already scrapped some of the television ads it planned for the run-off.

Sullivan's win gives Republicans 53 Senate seats on their way to a possible 54, as they try to build a buffer for 2016, when the electoral map once again favors Democrats.