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Sen. Dan Sullivan: ‘We are going to win, we are going to win big’

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan is running for a second term in the U.S. Senate.
Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan is running for a second term in the U.S. Senate.(KTUU)
Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 5:09 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Sen. Dan Sullivan took a sizable lead in preliminary election night results as he seeks a second term in the U.S. Senate.

Sullivan said his early successes against Dr. Al Gross was due to the positive vision he laid out for Alaska.

“Bad candidates who have all the money in the world can’t hoodwink us,” Sullivan said, during a private election night event with supporters. “They can’t hoodwink the rest of the country, these kinds of candidates are being rejected all across America tonight, including in the great state of Alaska.”

Over 120,000 absentee ballots will only start being counted next Tuesday, but Sullivan expressed confidence that Gross wouldn’t make up the deficit. “We are going to win, we are going to win big because our best days are ahead of us,” he said to loud cheers from supporters.

Sullivan was first elected in 2014 after defeating incumbent Democrat Mark Begich in a close race. Begich refused to concede as absentee ballots were being counted that saw Sullivan’s lead shrink.

Sullivan eventually won by just over 6,000 votes when results were certified.

His election to the Senate came after he served as Alaska’s attorney general and the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources under Republican governors. Sullivan, a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, was called back into active service in 2013.

After a short deployment to Afghanistan, Sullivan returned to Alaska inspired to run for public office. “The government was not a partner for opportunity for Alaska, it was an obstacle,” he said in August.

After the 2014 election, the U.S. House and Senate were both controlled by Republican majorities. President Donald Trump took office in January of 2017.

During Sullivan’s tenure in the Senate, the 1002 region of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was opened up for development after a decades-long battle in Congress. The King Cove Road also moved forward but is now being held up in court.

Sullivan also sponsored the bipartisan Save Our Seas Act which was signed into law by Trump in 2018. The bill seeks to address the millions of tons of plastic and other debris that pollute the country’s oceans.

Sullivan fought alongside fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski to curb Alaska’s high rates of domestic violence. U.S. Attorney General William Barr toured Alaska in May of 2019 and pledged funds to help Alaska after a public safety emergency was declared by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The campaign against Gross, an independent running as the Democratic nominee for the Senate, has been hard-fought.

“It’s been a rough campaign,” Sullivan said on Monday. “But, we’re putting forward a positive vision for our state and our country and I think that’s what people want.”

The Debate for the State saw the two candidates spar over health care.

Gross, an orthopedic surgeon, supports a public option and criticized Sullivan for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act multiple times. Sullivan has long said he supports protecting preexisting conditions.

The Pebble Mine became a big campaign issue, too. In late September, “the Pebble Tapes” were released that suggested Sullivan was not supporting the mine publicly but that his position would change after the election.

Sullivan vehemently denied that. “Let me be even more clear: I oppose Pebble Mine. No Pebble Mine,” he said on Twitter, several days after the tapes were released.

After Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, the Gross campaign raised over $3 million in three days. Sullivan confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court just over a week before the election over criticisms that he was acting hypocritically.

“The decision to withhold advancement of Mr. Garland’s nomination isn’t about the individual, it’s about the principle,” Sullivan said in a statement in March of 2016.

The next term in Congress could be tougher for Sullivan, depending on national results. Polling had suggested that Democrats could potentially control both houses of Congress and the White House.

Sullivan said he had worked with former Vice President Joe Biden in the past on domestic violence and sexual assault issues and could work with him again.

“I’ll work with anyone to advance the interest of my state,” he said. “But, I’ll fight like hell though, if they try to shut down our military, shut down access to our resources, kill our jobs.”

If he is reelected, a focus for Sullivan is getting Alaska out of a downturn driven by COVID-19.

“The health of our citizens and the health of our economy and growing jobs,” he said of his priorities. “Before the pandemic, we were actually seeing a really strong Alaska economy, wages were growing, unemployment was at some of the lowest levels ever. I think we can get back to that.”

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