Sullivan sticking with Murkowski in widening U.S. Senate race

WASHINGTON — Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan is sticking with Sen. Lisa Murkowski in this election season, he said this week.

Though Sullivan and Murkowski don't always go the same way in Washington, the junior senator said he's not swayed by the entrance of conservative Joe Miller in the U.S. Senate race on the Libertarian ticket.

Some Alaska party officials have defected from their posts to back Miller's last-minute candidacy.

"Joe Miller's a friend of mine … but I'm supporting Lisa Murkowski like the vast majority of Republicans are doing," Sullivan said.

Sullivan beat Miller in the Republican primary in 2014 before going on to take a Senate seat from incumbent Sen. Mark Begich. Miller won the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat in 2010 but lost a close general election to Murkowski's historic write-in campaign.

Begich recently told some news outlets that he's considering a write-in run this year.

Sullivan said he's focused on keeping the Senate in Republican hands. And he hopes to keep Murkowski as chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which he said is a "critical, critical role for our state and our country." And "she's doing a really good job in that role," Sullivan said.

Miller entered the race with a central argument: that Murkowski is not conservative enough.

Asked about that, Sullivan said he didn't want to "get into the play by play" on issues, but that he and Murkowski are "not identical on a number of issues." But in terms of "fighting federal overreach… developing our resources… driving economic growth in Alaska… and the Second Amendment, she is very strong," Sullivan said.

Miller's quick rise in 2010 came with the support of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. She has not made public moves to get involved in the Senate race since Miller's announcement.