Who is Dan Sullivan? What to know about the US senator from Alaska


Daniel Scott Sullivan is a first-term Republican senator from Alaska who has served the state since 2015 and is facing a re-election bid.

Sullivan, 55, is seeking to fend off a challenge from independent Al Gross, who is running with Democratic support. 

The tight race between the two candidates has drawn national attention as both parties look for control of the Senate. The largest amount of registered voters in Alaska identify as independents, however, the state has long been considered a Republican stronghold.

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U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican seeking reelection, waves a sign at a busy intersection Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sullivan in the Nov. 3, 2020, election faces Dr. Al Gross, an independent who won the Alaska Democratic primary. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican seeking reelection, waves a sign at a busy intersection Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sullivan in the Nov. 3, 2020, election faces Dr. Al Gross, an independent who won the Alaska Democratic primary. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Sullivan has said he plans to vote for President Donald Trump, who won Alaska with just over 51% of the vote in 2016. He told a radio program last month that Trump and his administration “have been fully committed to helping our state.”

Sullivan has sought to paint Gross as a liberal who would side with Democrats on an “anti-Alaska agenda,” such as shutting down the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. He has also said that investments in law enforcement were important in the state.

In 2017, legislation was passed to allow for oil and gas drilling on the coastal plain of the refuge, which has been long-advocated by Alaska elected officials. Gross said he supports the drilling.

“My view is we need a government that’s a partner in opportunity, not an obstacle,” Sullivan said.

A recent ad from the Sullivan campaign was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League after it appeared to show Gross with a handful of cash and a grainy photo of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer behind him.

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The Anti-Defamation League wrote that it was “offensive to play into #antisemitic stereotypes when attacking a Jewish political opponent.” Both Gross and Schumer are Jewish.

Sullivan went to Harvard University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1987. He also earned a joint degree in law and foreign service from Georgetown University in 1993.

That year, Sullivan entered active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps where he served in infantry and reconnaissance units. He later became a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, according to Britannica.

After clerking for judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Alaska Supreme Court, Sullivan moved to Washington, D.C., and worked in the administration of former President George W. Bush. 

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During the Barack Obama administration, Sullivan served as Alaska Attorney General from 2009 to 2010 and the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources from 2010 to 2013, according to Britannica.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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