Sullivan starts Senate race with big haul

Alaska Senate candidate Dan Sullivan (R) is off to a fast fundraising start, hauling in $1.25 million in his first three months as a candidate.

Sullivan, who until recently headed Alaska's natural resources commission, is vying to be the GOP nominee against Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska). The Republican's strong fundraising could quickly make him the front-runner in a primary that also features Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) and 2010 nominee and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller (R).

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Begich is a top GOP target, and many national Republicans hope a clear Republican front-runner will emerge for the party to unite behind to avoid a weak challenger against Begich. 

"I am honored and thankful for the support that I have received from Alaskans and people across the country who believe that America’s best days are ahead," Sullivan said. "This is a clear sign that our message on the need to roll back the President Obama-Harry Reid-Mark Begich agenda is resonating."

Sullivan, a Marine and former Bush administration deputy secretary of State, has close ties to some powerful Washington Republicans. They include National Republican Senatorial Committee Vice Chairman Rob Portman (Ohio) — they're from the same hometown and Sullivan's brother is a top fundraiser for Portman.

Sullivan's campaign did not release his cash-on-hand figures.

If Sullivan can keep up his strong fundraising pace he may be able to shut out Treadwell and Miller ahead of Alaska's August primary without having to spend much, and give Republicans a better shot at defeating Begich in the red state. Treadwell struggled with his fundraising for much of 2013, and had just $330,000 in the bank at the end of September.

Begich has yet to release his fourth-quarter fundraising figures. He had $2.4 million cash on hand as of the end of September.