Begich has had to tackle the veterans affairs scandal as he seeks a second term in Alaska. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Politicians have always touted their support for military veterans back home. The willingness to expend federal dollars to provide the best care possible is popular across the partisan spectrum and is rarely cause for controversy.
But the issue has been turned on its head in recent months, with the fallout from the Veterans Affairs scandal prompting even the Obama administration to admit a “corrosive culture” at the VA affecting facilities across the country.
It’s also invited criticism of vulnerable House and Senate Democrats from Republican candidates and outside groups. For Republican challengers and operatives, the VA scandal offers a striking example of federal government mismanagement with a Democrat at the helm and provides another link between Democratic incumbents and President Barack Obama.
“Veterans’ issues tend to be bipartisan, non-controversial and not a big deal in most campaigns — which is why the VA scandal is a problem for Democrats this year,” Republican pollster Dan Judy said. “Democratic candidates in most of the competitive states already have the millstone of President Obama’s unpopularity around their necks, and the VA scandal is only making that weight heavier.”