Last updated on October 2, 2020
For the first few seconds of a 1-minute television spot that began airing in Alaska in July, it’s hard to know for sure.“He was born in the wake of an avalanche,” a narrator with a deep baritone informs viewers as the camera shows a boat traversing an Alaskan bay. “Bought his first fishing boat with a bank loan at age 14.”After priming viewers to imagine a Paul Bunyan-like pioneer ― he shot a grizzly bear dead in “self defense”! ― the ad introduces Dr. Al Gross, a bespectacled orthopedic surgeon trying to unseat Sen. Dan Sullivan, a first-term Republican up for reelection in November. Gross, who is also a commercial fisherman and health care activist, is running for Senate as an independent, but plans to caucus with Democrats.
It’s a pretty awesome story that makes Gross a perfect fit for this race. That’s why the GOP is getting desperate and scared and want to disprove this:
So badly, in fact, that the GOP opposition research and communications firm America Rising, based in the DC-area, has sought to dig up dirt on Dr. Al Gross by making a public records request about the Independent Senate candidate's campaign ad claim he once “killed a grizzly bear in self-defense after it snuck up on him.”
That is according to a public records request made by America Rising to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that was obtained by Newsweek through a public records request.
America Rising's request, which was made by Senior Vice President Allan Blutstein on September 16, sought to obtain any animal kill reports—whether for self-defense or sport—filed by Dr. Gross since 1976, when he would have been 14 years old.
Dr. Gross, who is also a former orthopedic surgeon, did indeed once shoot and kill a grizzly in self-defense, documents show.
Though polls from June and July suggested that Sullivan, 55, was comfortably ahead of Gross, recent numbers have indicated that the race may be tightening. A Public Policy Polling survey, conducted in late August, found that Sullivan and Gross — both of whom have raked in millions of dollars in campaign donations — were tied with 43% of the vote.
The race has become increasingly acrimonious in recent weeks as the two candidates have traded barbs in an ongoing series of attack ads. A possible Supreme Court nomination and an in-state mining scandal have added to the high stakes in a contest that is drawing national media attention as well as significant outside spending.
Gross has run a strong campaign, experts say, casting himself as a political outsider in a state that favors them. The 57-year-old Jewish doctor has sought to play up his background as a commercial fisherman and gold prospector. Gross, who was born and raised in Alaska, is also an outsider of another sort: He was the first to have a bar mitzvah in the state’s southeastern portion. (His parents flew in a rabbi for the ceremony.)
Dr. Al Gross, a Democratic-aligned independent running to unseat Sullivan, had been, even before the recording, blasting Sullivan for failing to explicitly oppose the mine’s construction. Sullivan opposed the Obama administration’s preemptive veto of the proposed mine and supported allowing it to go through the federal permitting process.“These tapes make clear that Dan Sullivan does not care about Alaskans ― all he cares about is winning his next election,” Gross, a commercial fisherman and retired orthopedic surgeon, said in a statement. “He should be ashamed of himself.”Gross also began airing a 30-second TV ad on Wednesday that features a key excerpt from the Environmental Investigation Agency’s video to argue that Sullivan is secretly a supporter of the mine. “Dan Sullivan hides his support for Pebble Mine,” the ad’s narrator says.In addition, the Gross campaign is calling on Sullivan to return the donations he received from Collier. Collier, who resigned Wednesday from Pebble Partners amid the fallout from the leaked recording, has contributed $6,400 to Sullivan’s campaigns since 2017.
And while Alaska does go red in presidential elections, it still has an independent streak:
In his last election, Ohioans, as they call themselves, gave Sullivan $380 thousand in campaign contributions. Alaskans gave him $131 thousand according to financial disclosures. His family bankrolled his last campaign as did Super-PACS. His brother gave him over $25 thousand and his father gave him $50 thousand. You can expect the same thing to occur this time in addition to money from the far right.Have no doubt about it, Sullivan is a mouthpiece for Sen. Mitch McConnell and President Trump. He is their soldier and will do whatever they ask of him. He made it clear, during his speech, that he will follow these two men anywhere they want to take him, and his voting record backs it up. The only problem is that I’m not sure Alaskans want to walk that same path with Sullivan.In the end, I think people need to simply look at the decency of a politician and their ability to understand the plight of others when deciding who they should vote for. “Does this person have the ability to put themselves in anyone else’s shoes” is a question I ask myself during election season.Sullivan may have answered that question, during the speech I attended, when he was asked about a second stimulus payment and said, “There’s not going to be any more money for people out of work. They will get $300 a week and that’s it. There won’t be any more direct stimulus payments either. We’re done with handing out checks. It’s a disincentive. People need to go get a job.”
With 58% of Alaska voters registered as unaffiliated, the GOP has had to resort to this type of bull shit stunt:
In what Democrats said is a tacit admission that the strategy is working, the Republican-led state administration last week unilaterally decided to drop party affiliation from the November ballot. Galvin and Gross, who both appeared on the August primary ballots with a letter indicating their independent status, now appear only as the Democratic nominees.
That decision was upheld by the state Supreme Court, which declined a challenge from Galvin because 800,000 ballots had already been printed, though Judge Jennifer Henderson acknowledged that Gavlin would be irreparably harmed.
Kavanaugh said the change to ballots does a disservice to voters because being unaffiliated carries a special meaning in Alaska.
“It’s not providing voters with the information they need to make an educated vote at the polls,” she said. “That is the responsibility of the Division of Elections.”
Let’s keep up the momentum to flip Alaska and the Senate. Click below to donate and get involved with Gross, Galvin and Biden’s campaigns:
The Politicus is a collaborative political community that facilitates content creation directly on the site. Our goal is to make the political conversation accessible to everyone.Any donations we receive will go into writer outreach. That could be advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit or person-to-person outreach on College campuses. Please help if you can: