Republicans in Alaska are going to the polls today to select a candidate to run against incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D) in the November general election. One of those candidates is hoping that a last-minute endorsement from a famous former astronaut who typically does not get involved in campaigns will help swing a few of those voters his way.
The campaign of Mark Treadwell, the state’s current lieutenant governor, announced Monday that it had won the endorsement of Buzz Aldrin. “I have known and worked with Mead for close to thirty years, dating back to his first time advising NASA, on improving our nation’s space program,” Aldrin wrote in his letter of endorsement, referring to Treadwell’s participation in NASA’s Lunar Base Working Group in the 1980s.
Aldrin’s letter mentions Treadwell’s support for a number of issues of interest to Alaskans, including “Arctic exploration” for oil and gas, as well as the state’s role in missile defense. There’s a space angle, too, as Aldrin mentions Treadwell’s role as chairman of the Aerospace States Association (an organization traditionally chaired by a state lieutenant governor) and his support for the state’s launch site at Kodiak. “I admire his work to help build and build business for the Kodiak Launch Site,” Aldrin wrote. “Most importantly, I support what he’s done to make sure that the Last Frontier contributes to the next frontier in further space exploration.”
“For his part, Aldrin said that he does not generally make endorsements,” the Treadwell campaign notes in its statement about the endorsement. However, it’s not unprecedented. In 2008, he endorsed a candidate in a Democratic primary for Florida’s 15th congressional district, although that candidate lost in the primary, who in turn lost to Bill Posey in the general election. In 2006, Aldrin campaigned for Nick Lampson in his race for the House seat formerly held by Tom DeLay; Lampson won, but lost a reelection bid two years later. Aldrin also appeared at a campaign rally for President George W. Bush late in Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign.
Treadwell is one of three major Republican candidates for the Senate nomination. Most polls showed him trailing Dan Sullivan, although the race appeared to be tightening in recent weeks.
Update 8/20 9 am: Aldrin’s endorsement didn’t help Treadwell: he finished third in the three-person race for the Republican nomination.