Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan’s latest campaign ad prominently features Alaska’s senior senator, Lisa Murkowski.
In the commercial, Murkowski, R-Alaska, pushes back on recent ads from Sullivan’s challenger, independent Al Gross, the Democratic nominee.
“These dishonest attacks by Al Gross are just flat-out wrong,” Murkowski says in the ad, paid for by the Sullivan campaign. “Dan Sullivan is fighting hard to lower health care costs, protect our fisheries and support our Postal Service.”
“The Sullivan campaign is obviously scared of the momentum Dr. Al Gross is building in Alaska,” Gross' campaign spokeswoman, Julia Savel, said in response. “With a new ad buy from Mitch McConnell’s super PAC, it’s clear that the GOP is in real trouble.”
According to NBC News, the Senate Leadership Fund confirmed that starting next Wednesday, it will launch TV, radio and digital ads supporting Sullivan for 18 days, costing $1.6 million.
The ad featuring Murkowski followed a Sept. 9 launch of an ad paid for by the Gross campaign attacking Sullivan and his voting record on the U.S. Postal Service.
“Sullivan didn’t stand up to his party when there were massive cuts for political reasons to the entire Postal Service,” Wayne Kleven, owner of Alaska Sales, said in the ad. “That’s why everything’s late now.”
Sullivan’s campaign manager, Matt Shuckerow, said the ad is dishonest. Shuckerow said Sullivan fought to keep the bypass mail program funded. It lowers the cost for cargo shipping in rural Alaska. Shuckerow said Sullivan’s record on the Postal Service is strong.
“The delegation, and Sen. Sullivan, have fought hard for the USPS,” Shuckerow said. “They’re co-sponsors of legislation that would provide relief funding in the tune of $25 billion. Frankly, that ad couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The race between Sullivan and Gross appears to remain competitive with about a month and a half left until election day. A new poll from Public Policy Polling found the candidates tied with 14% of participants reporting they were undecided.
Gross' campaign also released an ad Friday, striking a different tone than much of the campaign material on either side to date.
“Bear Doctor” is a singsongy music video telling Gross' story, hitting on the Alaska characteristics the doctor has made central to his campaign; he’s a lifelong Alaskan who fished commercially, killed a bear in self-defense and wants to reform the nation’s health care system.
The ad will run on Facebook, Youtube, Hulu, Pandora and through programmatic advertising until the election, costing the campaign more than $100,000, Savel said.
On Thursday, third-party group VoteVets launched an ad attacking Sullivan for his votes on policy aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Sullivan voted against both, and Murkowski voted in favor of them.
“Alaskans are paying too damn much for medications,” Wasilla veteran Richard Lee Clinch says in the ad. “Dan Sullivan is making it worse.”
VoteVets is a political nonprofit started by veterans. According to its website, the group’s political action committee has spent more than $50 million in radio and TV ads and supports candidates of both parties. The group is mostly associated with congressional Democrats.
The ad will run statewide on broadcast and satellite TV until Oct. 2, and cost $684,000.
Shuckerow said Sullivan voted against an amendment to a budget bill that would make it easier to import prescription drugs from Canada because the bill did not have necessary public safety protection provisions. The amendment failed, with 13 Senate Democrats voting against it.
“Dan Sullivan supports and has voted to allow the importation of prescription drugs from places like Canada when those drugs can be certified as safe and meet (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) standards,” Shuckerow said.
An earlier Gross ad attacking Sullivan criticized his support for the federal coronavirus relief package, the CARES Act. The ad, featuring pirouetting ballerinas, called it a “$2 trillion bailout bill.”
The commercial, as well as a similar ad attacking Sullivan from third-party group 314 Action Fund, is referenced in a news release the Sullivan campaign sent out Friday, stating Gross is on the record opposing the CARES Act.
Savel called the Sullivan campaign’s take on the ad a lie. Gross supported parts of the CARES Act, such as payments to Americans, unemployment and assistance to hospitals and businesses, she said.
“But like so much that comes out of the Washington swamp, these good programs were stuck together with programs most Alaskans agree were wrong, like $170 billion tax giveaway to real estate developers, for example,” Savel said. “That Dan Sullivan can’t tell the difference is why he doesn’t deserve to be re-elected.”
Shuckerow said Sullivan is on record stating the CARES Act was not perfect, but the circumstances were dire and lawmakers came together quickly in a bipartisan package to inject money into local economies and help out struggling businesses and workers.
Shuckerow said the ad is a “slap in the face” to Alaskans.
“This bill received universal support from communities, from families, from businesses, and at a time when they need relief, he’s poking them in the eye,” Shuckerow said of Gross' ad.