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Al Gross declares ‘victory within reach’ on Election Day

Dr. Al Gross is running as a nonpartisan candidate in the non-Republican primary election on...
Dr. Al Gross is running as a nonpartisan candidate in the non-Republican primary election on August 18th. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)(Alex Bengel/KTVF)
Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 5:09 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After more than a year of campaigning and raising around $17 million, Dr. Al Gross enters election day as one candidate with a viable shot at unseating one Republican in the U.S. Senate.

Throughout the second half of October, polls have ranged from incumbent Sen. Dan Sullivan holding an 8% point advantage, with one poll giving Gross a 1% point edge. The latest polling data on the race in Alaska, put out by Gravis Marketing last Thursday predicts Gross will secure 45% of the vote, behind Sullivan’s 48%.

Though Gross is the Democratic party’s nominee, he has campaigned on his nonpartisan principles and used Sullivan’s voting record to try to paint his opponent as one who rarely deviates from the party lines.

Gross, who practiced as an orthopedic surgeon in Juneau, has made health care a focal point of his campaign and criticized Sullivan for votes that would make health care more difficult to obtain for people with pre-existing conditions.

In a 2017 opinion piece in the Anchorage Daily News, Gross called for a single-payer health care system for Alaska. However, throughout his campaign Gross has said that he wants to see a public option, but opposed a single-payer system.

“I have never once supported Medicare for all with the elimination of the private health care system. What I’ve done is I’ve studied and written about the drivers of healthcare costs, and when I get to the Senate, I’m going to be the doctor that gets the public option across the finish line,” Gross said.

Gross also differs from Sullivan on abortion and LGBTQ rights. His positions on those issues, in addition to health care, have been utilized by the Sullivan campaign to portray Gross as a candidate whose positions fall in the spectrum of national Democrats.

“Al Gross, caught on tape with outside millionaire donors, admitting he’s a liberal...” one Sullivan campaign ad stated. However, the Alaska News Source Fact Checker deemed those messages as misleading.

Gross has said that if elected, he will caucus with Democrats. During the Debate for the State, co-hosted by Alaska’s News Source and Alaska Public Media, Gross was asked why Alaskans should believe that he is an independent and not a Democrat.

“I’m just an Alaskan. I’m beholden to Alaskans and that quote was taken out of context. I said some of my values are to the left and some of my values are to the right, and that’s true,” Gross answered.

Gross has tried to distance himself from the National Democratic Party on issues including gun rights and resource development.

“My opponent keeps saying I’m in favor of the Green New Deal, but I’ve never said that. Ever,” Gross said during the debate.

Gross also supports development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and renewable energy.

As election day approached, both campaigns focused on more traditional attack ads. The transition came after the race gained national attention for back-and-forth ads focused not on policy but rather the circumstances surrounding Gross killing a bear in self-defense.

After polls closed in Alaska on Election Day, Gross took the stage to speak to a small gathering of family and supporters outdoors in Anchorage and shared his belief that he can win the senate seat currently held by Sullivan.

“Tonight, all indications are that voters want a change. They want someone who doesn’t just know their issues, but who has lived them,” Gross said. “While we don’t have the complete results tonight we do know this: victory is definitely within our reach. It is within reach because of the literally tens of thousands of Alaskans who’ve mailed in their ballots so their voices can be heard, and those votes must be counted.”

Preliminary election results have been reported. The numbers will be updated here as results continue to come in.

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