Who is Cleveland Dan Sullivan, candidate U.S. Senate? What does he stand for? Will he work for Alaska and Alaskans? Or will he just carry water for the GOP and feed his own ambitions. There?s a difference.
Is he his own man with his own principles? Or a cipher rattling around in a box built by others?
Lisa Demer wrote a fine, fact-filled ADN piece about him last April. After six months of campaigning, we don?t know much more about him now than what she reported then.
He just doesn?t show up, even at a Chamber of Commerce Monday forum, advertised as a senatorial debate. Hardly a hostile audience. When he does, he rarely answers questions. We get canned vapor off the GOP shelf. Goop. Vapid, unresponsive vagaries.
He seems ignorant or indifferent about Alaska?s issues. And clueless about how he would address them. He seems afraid he might blurt something damaging to his campaign or that might irritate the PACs supporting him and disrupt the substantial money flow.
He should know more than he admits. He was Attorney General from mid-2009 until December 2010, he claims he knew nothing about the National Guard scandals coming to a boil. No one told him. The FBI was looking into aspects of that mess. It didn?t tell Alaska?s chief law enforcement officer?
He settled a billion-dollar malpractice suit about the shortfall in the state?s pension funds for 20 cents on the dollar. That left Alaska still on the road to fiscal catastrophe. Why didn?t he pursue the suit? Who or what was he afraid of? Failure? A black mark on his carefully crafted book?
He won't explain that decision. It seems while AG many decisions were more geared toward his future political aspirations than for Alaska?s interests. While Commissioner of DNR, Sullivan handed out permits for Pebble Mine while stonewalling on water rights reservations requested by Alaskans. He opposed common sense scientific studies of Pebble?s possible but not improbable impacts on Alaska?s fish.
But he says in debates and forums he has no position on Pebble.
Which is it?
Sullivan's sterling resume shows he was judged not just capable but outstanding, particularly by a general who recommended him for early promotion to Lt. Colonel.
Shortly after he retired, the general was appointed to the Board of Directors of his family owned company, RPM in Ohio. RPM, his family, and numerous contributors in Ohio are a significant source of funds donated to Sullivan?s campaign.
All candidates get money from Outside interests with axes to grind, liberal and conservative. Sullivan is not alone in that. Politics as usual as practiced today. Drown, blind and deafen the voters in litter and media spots
Sullivan apparently did well at his jobs in Washington. He reminds us constantly he?s a good Marine, though mostly in staff billets. Lisa Demer reported his frustration when he told the Conservative Patriots Group he was "... not doing what he was trained to do, which was to kick down doors and kill bad guys."
Ambitious desk jockeys often say things like that. The question remains. Was he a mere careerist bent on building a resume that carries political weight? His various titles more a result of his family?s and their friends? influence more than of his own initiative and abilities?
It seems he was destined to be a senator. The only issue was from what state. He was put in place here by Sarah Palin, who said he had amazing credentials (his resume?) and explained she chose him as AG because "... our friends in the former Bush admin are his references." Now his references seem to come from the far right wing of the GOP.. It desperately wants to take control of the U.S. Senate, Sullivan seems the best chance to do so.
I?ve lived in Alaska for over 50 years. I?ve never seen an election like this. I don?t savor the view. Sullivan has a few days left to tell us who he really is and what he hopes to do for Alaska and Alaskans if elected.
Will he? Can he?
I doubt it. His game of keeping Alaskans in the dark and feeding them BS seems to be working. Why should he change?
I don?t really know who he is. Does he know for sure himself? Sometimes he seems unsure of where he actually lived.
Or is living.
Jim Babb is a former newspaperman who was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for the Anchorage Daily News in 1976. He has been a practicing lawyer for the last 30 years.
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com
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