Sullivan Joins GOP Senate Cannibal Circus
Today, Dan Sullivan (R) announced his run for the U.S. Senate. This particular Mr. Sullivan has the misfortune to share his name with:
1) The weasly, morally bankrupt Mayor of Anchorage
2) The man who started the great Chicago fire of 1871, and let Mrs. O’Leary’s cow take the blame.
He also holds the distinction of being the third candidate on the Republican side to be seeking the office currently held by Democrat Mark Begich. Sullivan and current Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell are expected to split the “sanity vote” (although that distinction is subjective), while former and current candidate Joe Miller will round up the full force of the Tea Party crowd. This makes things interesting, as we speculate if the split in the former demographic will allow the latter to once again get the Republican nomination.
The crowd at the Dena’ina Center in downtown Anchorage numbered around 65, consisting of the candidate’s friends and family, former military buddies, media, coworkers from the DNR, and the Department of Law, and a handful of unidentified suits. The only sitting officeholder in the room was Rep. Bill Stoltze of Eagle River.
Stoltze, those of you who read Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin may recall, is the sitting legislator who acted as an illegal coordinator between the Palin for Governor campaign and the Republican Governors Association. He is also, perhaps, more noted for his habit of baking Christmas cookies for charity auctions, in the buff. That’s right… of all 60 possible state legislators, Sullivan has garnered the coveted Naked Baker endorsement. Quite a coup.
Sullivan is currently a Lt. Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves, and served as a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, and Director on the National Security Council staff under Condoleeza Rice. Sarah Palin appointed Sullivan Attorney General in June of 2009, and he shifted course to become head of the Department of Natural Resources (tipping his hand he’d seek higher office) in 2010.
The introduction of the candidate today was made by Gen. Joe Ralston. According to the wiki:
Ralston became Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1996. He was favorite to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1997, however following revelations of a secret affair he remained Vice Chairman until May 2000. He then became Supreme Allied Commander for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Europe until January 2003.
He had previously served from July 1992 – July 1994 as Commander, Alaskan Command, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, 11th Air Force and Joint Task Force Alaska,Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. And no, I have no idea how one might fit that on to a business card with room for a phone number. I tried, and I say it can’t be done.
Ralston made sure to really drive the point home that Sullivan has “deep roots” in Alaska, in an effort to counter accusations of carpetbaggery – a total campaign-killer in the 49th state. Sullivan first moved to Alaska in 1997, and his opponent Mead Treadwell recently quipped, ”I’ve got a jar of mayonnaise in my refrigerator that’s been there longer than Dan Sullivan’s been in Alaska,” to which Sullivan responded, “I learned something new today — not to eat any of Mead Treadwell’s sandwiches.” To which, Democrats responded, “GOP FOOD FIGHT!” and began clapping, and laughing gleefully.
Acknowledging his refusal to answer questions since reports first circulated that he was considering a run for Senate, Sullivan opened with a nod to the fourth estate. “It’s so good to see my friends in the media. It’s been a while. I can’t wait for your softball questions you’re going to ask me after this, so I’m looking forward to that as well.” It was unclear if the media was amused by the tongue-in-cheek, but Sullivan did not take questions at the lectern after his announcement, preferring instead to mingle on the floor, and deflect said softball questions until a later time.
“Washington is broken,” Sullivan pontificated during the speech, accusing the feds of “shutting down responsible resource development in Alaska, by curtailing our individual rights, and by mortgaging our children’s future with trillion dollar deficits.”
His campaign will focus on three critical issues, he said:
1) Accelerating the “Alaskan economic and energy renaissance that is spreading from Cook Inlet to the Interior to the North Slope” (Drill baby, drill)
2) “Continue our effective fight against federal overreach into the lives of Alaskans and our economy.” (Independent Republic of Alaska)
3) “Protecting Alaskans – our families, individual rights, our fiscal future and our security.” (2nd Amendment first)
Then Sullivan gave a perhaps unwitting homage to the style of the ex-half-governor who gave him his job, in a moment that felt weirdly Palinesque. After the obligatory request for hand raising and applause for veterans in the audience, he intoned the need for “less government, more freedom, with dogged determination to meet Alaska’s challenges.” It was almost like her, except he didn’t shriek like a harpy or lick his teeth, and nobody’s ears bled.
Sullivan characterized his role in the expanding field of Senatorial wannabes by saying only he has “the fighting spirit to get big things done for Alaska in the United States Senate, and I’m also the fighter who can beat Mark Begich in November.” Agreed that Mead Treadwell appears to have all the “fight” of a wet dishcloth, but Joe Miller isn’t going to curl up in the corner. An attorney and West Point grad, fueled by the righteousness of fresh-squeezed Snake Flag juice, I’m guessing the Tea Party darling won’t be cowed by Sullivan.
Sullivan his resigned from his post as Commissioner of DNR so he can put “110% of his efforts” into his campaign. Today, that meant a stop in Wasilla, and another in Fairbanks to make the official announcement that he’s slicing the GOP Senate pie into another slice.
In a taste of what is likely to be his biggest criticism, at least in the early days of the campaign, Michael Wenstrup, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party said, “The only thing Alaskans know about a Dan Sullivan candidacy is that it has the stamp of approval from Washington insiders. Alaskans don’t appreciate Outside special interests coming in and telling us what to do or think – and that includes Dan Sullivan and his well-connected friends.”
That’s right. Because any red-blooded Alaskan on the Left OR the Right, don’t need no stinking East Coast, marble column, beltway insiders. >>Ptooey<<
The GOP Senate race now has three rings. It would be just like a circus, if the circus consisted of a car being driven by an angry clown was trying to run over an escaped tiger who was being beaten on the head with a stool by the trapeze guy, who were all trying to eat each other.
The Democratic Party was quick to come up with a laundry list showing that Sullivan has fought to limit Alaskans’ role in their government, delivered faulty legal advice during his tenure as Attorney General, and settled with Outside corporations at the expense of the Alaskans for whom he claims to be fighting.
It’s a good starting point.
Here’s your program from the Democratic Party. Enjoy the show, and stay tuned for more.
DAN SULLIVAN – FIGHTING AGAINST ALASKA INTERESTS
Led Negotiations with Pt. Thompson That Oil & Gas Experts Called a “Really Bad Deal:” Sullivan’s Point Thomson settlement with Exxon was criticized by oil and gas experts as a “really bad deal” that was finalized in secret. Mark Myers, Director of Oil and Gas during the Murkowski Administration, said that he would not have signed the deal and that it wouldn’t lead to maximum development of the gas field. [Alaska Dispatch, 4/13/12]
Attacked Tribal Sovereignty: Sullivan spearheaded a state lawsuit challenging the Kaltag Tribal Council’s ability to transfer custody of an at-risk child from an abusive environment. With the Kaltag case, Sullivan chose to attack tribal sovereignty rather than reduce domestic violence. [ADN, 2/26/10]
Rolled Back the Citizens’ Cruise Ship Initiative: Sullivan negotiated a settlement which rolled back much of the 2006 citizens’ cruise ship initiative, drawing criticism even from Republican lawmakers. Sullivan’s settlement cost Alaska taxpayers as much as $22 million annually. The Anchorage Daily News editorial board opined, “the only thing certain in this deal is what the state is giving up to the cruise lines — millions of dollars” [Juneau Empire 4/7/10; Associated Press,4/15/10; ADN, 4/14/10]
Settled a Pension Case Leaving Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Alaskans on the Table: Sullivan settled a pension case with Mercer, recovering only $500 million of $2.8 billion of damages Mercer caused to state pensions. [Business Insurance, 6/14/2010; Juneau Empire 6/13/10]
Was Lead Spokesman for HB 77, the “Salmon Sellout:” Sullivan’s signature permitting bill, HB 77, did not pass due to strong opposition from fishing groups, Alaska Natives, and citizens. HB 77 would have given unprecedented power to the Commissioner of DNR, including the ability to approve any project on state lands irrespective of other state laws and without regard for water rights of individuals, fishing organizations, and Alaska Natives. The Anchorage Daily News editorial board said that HB 77 would eliminate public participation in the process and urged its defeat, saying “This isn’t good government, this is special interest government.” Opponents of HB 77 noted that it represented a back door attempt to expedite approval of Pebble Mine. [Alaska Journal of Commerce, 4/18/13; ADN, 4/12/13; Tundra Drums,9/5/13]
Promoted SB 21, the Oil Giveaway: Sullivan said he was proud of helping pass SB 21, which he claims is “promoting increased oil production and jobs on the North Slope.” In fact, as the Parnell Administration’s own Department of Revenue acknowledges, the number of jobs on the North Slope grew to record numbers under Alaska’s Fair and Equitable Share (ACES), legislation which was eclipsed by SB 21. The number of new oil wells, number of companies operating on the North Slope, and value of oil sector capital investment all grew while ACES was in place. As the Alaska Dispatch reported, ACES incentives for competition were eliminated in favor of a flat-tax giveaway that had no incentives whatsoever for new production. SB 21 was so unpopular that 50,000 Alaskans signed a petition to put its repeal on the ballot in 2014. SB 21 is leading to record state budget deficits – when Parnell signed the bill, the Alaska Dispatch reported “With Stroke of a Governor’s Pen, Alaska Back in Deficit Spending.” [Dept of Revenue, accessed 10/14/13; Alaska Dispatch, 10/8/13; Alaska Dispatch, 5/21/13]
Tried to Prevent Citizens from Filing Ethics Complaints Against Public Officials: Sullivan attempted to restrict and ban some citizens from filing ethics complaints, consistent with his later efforts to eliminate Alaskans’ opportunity to comment on permit applications.[ADN, 8/6/09]
Forced To Reverse A Legal Opinion That Violated the Alaska Constitution: Sullivan advised Gov. Parnell that it was legal to hire sitting legislators Gene Therriault and Nancy Dahlstrom. Sullivan later had to reverse himself after widespread criticism that the hires may have violated the Alaska Constitution. [ADN, 6/15/10; ADN, 7/2/10]