Alaska News

Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan names chief of staff, other staffers

Republican U.S. Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan on Monday announced he'd hired former state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash as his chief of staff.

Balash left his Cabinet position after former Republican Gov. Sean Parnell lost his re-election campaign to new Gov. Bill Walker in November. He worked with Sullivan as a deputy commissioner when Sullivan was Parnell's DNR commissioner, from 2010 to late 2013.

Balash's hiring was announced Monday afternoon in a prepared statement that also named two other employees for Sullivan's Washington, D.C., office.

Mike Anderson was named Sullivan's spokesperson, after serving as communications director during Sullivan's Senate race. And DeLynn Henry, a longtime scheduler and assistant to former Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, was named Sullivan's scheduler.

Balash left state government after attacking Walker during the gubernatorial campaign, and Walker had said during the campaign that he planned to fire Balash if elected.

Asked how he expected to work with the Walker administration, Balash responded: "Fortunately, most of what I'm going to need to do for the senator is going to be there in D.C."

But Balash added he met last week with his successor as natural resources commissioner, Mark Myers, as well as two other top Walker administration appointees, deputy natural resources Commissioner Marty Rutherford and Attorney General Craig Richards.


"I imagine that everybody's going to be more than willing to put politics aside and work for what's best for the country, and Alaska," Balash said in a phone interview. "And I certainly can understand why any governor would want to have his own people around them, and hold no ill will towards Gov. Walker or anybody else."

The statement from Sullivan said he will be sworn in Jan. 6.

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage-based independent journalist Nathaniel Herz has been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. Read his newsletter, Northern Journal, at