The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for U.S. Senate to answer a series of issue questions. Here are their responses. Read more here.
DAN SULLIVAN | Republican | Occupation: U.S. senator | Age: 55 | Residence: Anchorage | Relevant experience or prior offices held: Alaska Attorney General; State of Alaska Commissioner, Alaska Department of Natural Resources; U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Director, White House National Security Council staff; Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps: 1993-Present | dansullivanforalaska.com
Why are you running for office?
I ran for Senate in 2014 because Congress and the Executive branch were stifling economic and job opportunities in Alaska, shutting down access to our lands, and gutting our national defense. It made me furious. I promised to reverse these negative policies which hurt working families in our state, and to focus on other critical issues like combatting domestic violence, increasing law enforcement and cleaning up our oceans. We’ve made significant progress in all of these areas.
I am running for reelection to build on these successes, even as we face new challenges. The strength of our economic recovery and our ability to create new jobs will depend dramatically on this election. My vision for Alaska is one of opportunities for all, where we can build a brighter future for our kids. I believe our best days are ahead of us and would be honored by your vote in November.
Name two big problems or challenges currently facing Alaska and how you plan to address them if elected.
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most significant crises our nation has ever faced, from both an economic and public health standpoint. The CARES Act and subsequent legislation provided billions in relief to Alaskan families, small businesses, schools, Native communities, fishermen, and healthcare workers. I will continue to fight for Alaskan priorities in future relief legislation to cure the virus and create more Alaskan jobs as our economy recovers.
Another significant challenge facing Alaska is the scourge of domestic violence and sexual assault which leaving permanent scars and limits our state’s potential. I’ve led the charge on these issues, passing laws to help survivors receive more legal services, protect workers from sexual harassment, and keep our children safe from sex trafficking. I will continue to be a strong advocate for our survivors and build on the progress we’ve made so far.
Do you think the federal government has effectively dealt with the coronavirus pandemic as a public-health issue? What specifically should have been done differently?
I am committed to fighting COVID on multiple fronts and ensuring the health and safety of Alaskans while restoring economic vitality. I’ve worked closely with this Administration on comprehensive COVID-19 legislation, like the CARES Act, which included many provisions for Alaska. I successfully advocated for greater access to telehealth, comprehensive testing throughout our state, accelerated vaccine development, and significant relief funds for our fishermen, small businesses, working families, tribes, schools, and health care workers. I have advocated for emergency surge funding to ensure our healthcare workers on the frontline of this pandemic have the resources they need. While our national testing program stumbled out of the gate, as a result of a strong partnership between Alaska and the federal governments, we now have among the highest testing rates in the nation.
What should the federal government be doing to repair economic damage related to the pandemic?
Before the pandemic, Alaska was emerging from a long recession. We were on pace to do record tourism business, our energy sector was poised to be booming, and unemployment was at record lows. When the pandemic ground that to a halt, we acted. We passed legislation to support struggling businesses, provide tax relief, Paycheck Protection program loans to 12,087 Alaska small businesses, enhanced unemployment benefits to tens of thousands of Alaskans, and provided significant revenue streams to the State and local governments to provide small business relief programs. My opponent derides this vital assistance, calling it a “bailout”, but Alaskans know that it was a lifeline for so many. Further, during the pandemic, oil prices crashed due to an oversupply by Saudi Arabia—something I worked relentlessly to correct.
There’s more to be done and I am working for additional targeted relief to help Alaska’s jobs and economy recover.
What will you do to address high health-care costs (and access to quality care) for Alaskans?
I’ve successfully fought to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, repeal negative aspects of Obamacare like the Cadillac Tax and the individual mandate, reauthorize Denali KidCare, protect Alaskans from predatory surprise medical bills that unfairly enrich insurance companies and unscrupulous doctors, reform the VA healthcare system in Alaska, increase the Medicaid federal match to boost our State’s program, and work to lower drug prices for Alaskans. I have also led efforts to help those who have mental illness and addiction issues.
I will continue to support policies that enhance fairness, quality, and cost-effectiveness in the health care system. I will continue to fight policies like Medicare-for-All—which my opponent has openly advocated for—which would increase taxes, prevent Alaskans from choosing their doctors, and confiscate health coverage from two-thirds of Alaskans whose employer-based and union plans would be consolidated into one government-controlled system.
What should be done, if anything, to change federal immigration policies?
Addressing the serious challenges in our immigration system — including a resolution for the beneficiaries of the DACA program — requires compassion, securing our border, and respect for the rule of law. In February 2018, I voted in favor of an amendment that, combined with provisions such as border security and permanent reauthorization of E-Verify, would have provided a pathway to citizenship for those illegally brought to the U.S. as a minor. In terms of the enforcement of immigration laws, all law enforcement should strive for building trust — not fear — within the community. That said, I do not support sanctuary city policies, which undermine the rule of law and coherent immigration policy and also support building a wall on our southern border.
Describe your vision for Alaska.
My vision for Alaska is one of opportunity and freedom. A vision where the federal government is a partner, not an obstacle in our progress, and where we build on our successes towards a brighter future.
Our state has so many unique advantages to make this vision possible. Our vast natural resources; the most strategic location from which to defend America’s national security interests and take advantage of the Asia-Pacific economic renaissance; and great diversity of people. We have a geography and climate worthy of study by the finest scientific minds. We have the promise of a new Arctic frontier. I know that we have challenges, but we also have enormous opportunities before us. I am committed to continue working through those challenges together and bring the spirit of excitement and creation to our state.
What is the role of the federal government to reduce high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in Alaska?
Since my time as Attorney General, where I led the Choose Respect campaign, I have focused on combatting our horrendous rates of sexual assault and domestic violence. I have taken that focus to the Senate, where I have successfully passed legislation—the POWER Act—to provide more legal services to survivors. I’ve also introduced legislation that would provide a lawyer, free of charge, to survivors. I also believe that every community in Alaska that wants a public safety officer should have one. We are making progress. Last August, I brought U.S. Attorney General Barr to Alaska. Since that visit, Alaska has received a historic $60 million to increase law enforcement, particularly in rural Alaska.
It’s vital that we protect our kids from predators. To that end, I co-sponsored legislation—now law—which helps to shut down websites and other institutions that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking and passed legislation that gives prosecutors more resources to battle trafficking our kids.
What do you think is the United States' role in the world?
We live in an increasingly dangerous world with threats from countries like Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China. To address the challenges posed by these countries, we need to work closely with our allies and strengthen our military. A main reason I ran for Senate was because the Obama-Biden Administration dramatically cut defense spending, especially in Alaska. They undercut the readiness and morale of our troops and refused to take our national security interests in the Arctic seriously.
I’ve led successful efforts to change this by rebuilding our military – especially in Alaska –with $1.6 billion in military construction for Alaska and leading the charge to reverse the previous Administration’s decisions to cut Coast Guard cutters and the 5,000-member 4-25 Brigade at JBER. If Chuck Schumer becomes Senate Majority Leader, which my opponent supports, this progress will be reversed, and America and Alaska will be less secure and prosperous.
How would you describe President Trump’s term in office?
The Obama-Biden Administration was focused on shutting down Alaska and killing our jobs. I fought these policies as Attorney General, DNR Commissioner, and U.S. Senator. The Trump Administration has worked closely with me to reverse these harmful policies and advance Alaska priorities: opening ANWR and the NPR-A; rebuilding our military; building roads like in King Cove; restoring access to our lands and hunting and fishing rights increasing law enforcement; building ice breakers; and cleaning up our oceans.
How important of a priority to you is reducing the federal deficit? Explain.
The best way to reduce the deficit is to continue enacting policies that grow our economy, like resource development, and streamlining regulations that impede job creation. Before the pandemic, our country’s economy was booming, and federal revenues, jobs and wages were all increasing to record levels. We need to ensure strong economic growth as we come out of the pandemic. We also need to change Congress' dysfunctional budget process, get rid of redundant spending, put entitlement programs on a fiscally sustainable path, and bring down skyrocketing health care costs—all of which I’ve worked on as your Senator.
What should Congress and the federal government do to deal with climate change, specifically its impacts in Alaska?
The climate is changing, and as Alaskans, we are on the front lines. From erosion in our coastal villages to the evolving migrations of subsistence and commercial fisheries resources, we need to look for ways to adapt through funding more resilient infrastructure and science to inform decisions on our changing climate. However, I will continue to fight job-killing proposals like the Green New Deal—which would crush Alaska’s economy. I will continue to support all forms of energy production and policies that harness American ingenuity and incentivize innovative research to advance our current and future energy technologies.
What’s your position on the proposed Pebble mine?
Throughout this process, I have advocated for the Army Corps and other federal regulatory agencies to conduct a rigorous, fair, science-based review — free of politics — that does not trade one resource for another. I have worked hard to ensure that the voices of all Alaskans—both for and against the Pebble Mine — would be heard, considered, and respected at the highest levels of the federal government. This has happened. Pebble has not met the high standards we demand for all resource development projects in Alaska and should not be permitted. For these reasons, I oppose Pebble Mine.
What other important issue would you like to discuss with voters?
Alaskans have a clear choice in this important election. In most areas where we have made progress—2nd Amendment rights, access to our lands, development of our resources, the strength of our military, increasing funding for law enforcement, even hard-fought Alaska Native legal rights — National Democrats have an anti-Alaska agenda. They don’t even try to hide it. By pledging allegiance to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and donating to politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders, my opponent has made clear that he would empower this anti-Alaska agenda. Together, we have worked hard over the last six years to strengthen our state and our unique Alaskan way of life. We have accomplished a lot, but it could all be undone if National Democrats take control of the Senate. We cannot let that happen. That’s why I’m running to represent you.
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Alaska Public Media interview with Sen. Dan Sullivan: