There is a great piece out in the Jewish Insider about Dr. Al Gross’ (I. AK) U.S. Senate campaign that’s worth a read:
The 57-year-old former orthopedic surgeon entered the state’s Democratic primary race last summer as an independent. In an introductory ad, a gravelly voice-over narration touted his rugged background as a commercial fisherman, itinerant ocean hitchhiker and gold prospector who once killed a grizzly bear in self-defense. (It snuck up on him while he was duck hunting some 40 miles south of Juneau.)
Gross’s compelling story has caught the attention of the national media as he competes in the state’s August 18 primary for the chance to challenge first-term Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan in November. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently upgraded the race from “solid” to “likely Republican,” giving the Democrats a glimmer of hope as the party attempts to flip the Senate in November.
Though Gross is running as an independent, he has support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), who attended Amherst College with Gross, offered an enthusiastic assessment of his former classmate in a statement to Jewish Insider.
“He’s a lifelong Alaskan with a deep understanding of the complex policies that impact our environment, our healthcare system and our place in the global community,” Coons said in his statement. “Al is informed, passionate and will legislate in a responsible and progressive way to protect Alaskans — and all Americans. He will be a valuable ally who supports a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. He’s a different kind of candidate, and he will be a strong voice in the U.S. Senate.”
Gross is confident that he can defy the odds and oust Sullivan this cycle, pointing out that Alaskan voters have a strong tendency to favor independent candidates. The Alaskan-born candidate’s father, Avrum Gross, was a Democratic attorney general who served under Alaskan Gov. Jay Hammond, a Republican who represented the state from 1974 to 1982 and whom Gross described as a “role model and a friend” during his formative years.
“That relationship and friendship is why I registered as an independent when I was 18,” Gross told JI in an interview, “because it was always about working together for the betterment of the state.”
Gross, who is Jewish, has long felt like an outsider in a state that takes pride in them. His bar mitzvah, he said, was the first ever in southeast Alaska — his parents flew in a rabbi for the ceremony — and there were only a few Jewish kids in his Juneau high school.
“I’ve been a minority, and that’s what I’ve known since I was a young kid,” he said. “We joke that we’re the ‘frozen chosen’ and the ‘extreme diaspora’ up here.”
Pretty soon we are going to see how competitive this race is going to be:
Until then, let’s keep up the momentum for Gross’ campaign. Click below to donate and get involved with Gross’ Senate campaign and Alyse Galvin’s (I. AK) congressional campaign: