Ex-DNR chief Sullivan to join race for U.S. Senate

Lisa Demer

Former state Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan will announce his campaign for U.S. Senate on Tuesday morning at the Dena'ina Center in downtown Anchorage.

Sullivan, who was attorney general before natural resources commissioner, resigned from his position in the Parnell administration last month amid speculation that he would make a bid for the seat now held by Democrat Mark Begich. Friends, supporters and family members were sent an email alert over the weekend that Sullivan would be making an announcement Tuesday. An official announcement has not yet gone out to media, said Meredith Kenny, who was helping get the word out as a volunteer.

Art Hackney, a political consultant who said he is not going to work directly for the campaign, confirmed Monday that Sullivan had decided to run.

Sullivan's team will include Mike Anderson, now the spokesman for U.S. Rep. Don Young, Hackney said.

Sullivan's entry into the race will heat up the Republican field. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and 2010 Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller already are running for the chance to take on Begich in November 2014. Miller, a Tea Party-backed candidate, lost in the general election to Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign.

Sullivan already took a bit of the shine off Treadwell's bid. At the same time Treadwell was making his announcement, Gov. Sean Parnell put out a press release announcing Sullivan's resignation and praising his time as commissioner and before that, attorney general.

"Dan has played a key role in getting big things done to strengthen Alaska's economy and families," Parnell said in the Sept. 12 statement.

Then-Gov. Sarah Palin appointed Sullivan as attorney general in 2009 after aides praised him and the Legislature rejected her prior pick, Wayne Anthony Ross. But when Sullivan's name first bubbled up as a candidate for attorney general in an email from her revenue commissioner, Patrick Galvin, Palin didn't know who he was.

"I've never even heard of the guy," Palin wrote on April 28, 2009, to aide Kris Perry.

Perry immediately emailed back that she and Palin's chief of staff, Mike Nizich, had already met with Sullivan "and he made his interest in the position known." Nizich would follow up, she said.

On June 16, 2009, Palin announced Sullivan as her pick for attorney general. She said he had a strong background in and out of Alaska.

Sullivan was an assistant secretary of state for economic, energy and business affairs under George W. Bush before becoming attorney general. His wife is from Fairbanks and the family has lived in Alaska a couple of different times, once from 1997 to 2002 and again for the past four years.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

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