JUNEAU — Former Natural Resources Commissioner and state Attorney General Dan Sullivan ended months of speculation Tuesday, officially announcing his bid for U.S. Senate.
Sullivan launched his campaign in Anchorage and planned additional stops in Wasilla and Fairbanks.
“I have dedicated my life to serving Alaska and America,” he told a few dozen supporters, friends and others at his Anchorage announcement. “I love this state, and I have a passion for helping my fellow Alaskans.”
Sullivan is one of at least five Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller, who have announced plans to challenge first-term Democrat Mark Begich.
Sullivan said he knows both Treadwell and Miller and intends to stay “very positive.” He said it’s important for the GOP contenders to talk about their vision and records and not tear each other down, which risks the eventual Republican nominee’s chances of winning in November 2014. Lesser-known candidates John Jaramillo and Kathleen Tonn are also running.
“The most important thing here is for the Republicans to retake this Senate seat,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press before his announcement. Republicans have seen Begich’s seat as key to their efforts to reclaim control of the Senate.
Treadwell’s campaign released a statement welcoming Sullivan to the race. Treadwell referred to Sullivan as “my friend” and referred to himself as the conservative candidate with the experience and credentials to defeat Begich.
Calling competition “good for the Republican Party,” Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said, “We trust during the course of this campaign the primary voters will learn the clear distinctions between the candidates and their views of the role of government in our daily lives.”
Sullivan, at his campaign rally, said he has the experience, leadership and “fighting spirit” to get big things done in the Senate. He cast himself as “the fighter” who can beat Begich. The state Democratic Party, meanwhile, branded Sullivan as the “D.C. establishment pick.”
Sullivan said his campaign will focus on areas including energy and what he refers to as a “renaissance” in production, pushing back against federal overreach, protecting individual rights, standing up for veterans and fiscal security.
He said there are huge opportunities. “But when you look at Washington, it’s clearly broken. Not only is Washington ignoring these opportunities, it undermines them by shutting down responsible resource development in Alaska, by mortgaging our children’s future through trillions in deficits and curtailing our individual rights,” he said in the interview.
Sullivan said he has a record of getting things done and bringing different sides together. As an example, he pointed to a settlement he helped broker that ended a long-running dispute over leases to develop the Point Thomson gas fields, which helped clear the way for progress on a major natural gas pipeline project.
Sullivan resigned as Natural Resources commissioner last month, a post he was appointed to in 2010 amid mounting speculation he would run for Senate. Before that, he served as state attorney general and in the administration of President George W. Bush as U.S. assistant secretary of state for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs, according to his bio.
This summer he deployed to Afghanistan after being recalled to active military duty. Sullivan holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves.
He said he plans to travel the state, listening to Alaskans’ concerns and also sharing his ideas.
“What we really want to do is emphasize to people there is enormous opportunity for Alaskans, for Americans,” he said. “We can grow our economy. With this energy renaissance, we can own the 21st century the way we owned the last century. Enormous opportunities, just not enough people are talking about it.”