Republican Dan Sullivan claims victory in Alaska Senate race
Dan Sullivan (Facebook)

Republican Dan Sullivan claimed victory on Wednesday in a tight race for the U.S. Senate in Alaska, a week after elections gave Republicans control of the U.S. Senate and strengthened their grip on the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sullivan, a 49-year-old former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner, was leading his Democrat opponent, Senator Mark Begich, by 7,911 votes on Tuesday night, before announcing victory early on Wednesday morning.

"From day one we told our supporters that we would run a campaign that Alaskans could be proud of and that's what we did," Sullivan said.

Begich could not be immediately reached for comment.

Alaska election officials tallied thousands of ballots on Tuesday cast by absentee and early voters, as well as people who voted at the wrong polling places. More votes will be counted in coming days, and officials said they hoped to certify the results by Nov. 28.

Begich campaign spokesman Max Croes said on Tuesday that "Every Alaskan deserves to have their vote counted and their voice heard in this election."

Begich, a former Anchorage mayor, had been slipping in polls since mid-summer. His campaign touted his deep Alaska roots, where he was born and raised, while portraying Sullivan, who was born in Ohio, as an outsider.

Begich was narrowly elected in 2008 a few weeks after a jury convicted former Republican Senator Ted Stevens on federal corruption charges, a conviction that was later set aside by a federal judge who cited prosecutorial misconduct.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Dominic Evans and W Simon)