Empire editorial: Palin lands legal pedigree

Hopefully state's new Attorney General Daniel Sullivan isn't just another lapdog

Posted: Friday, June 19, 2009

On paper, what's not to like about Gov. Sarah Palin's pick of Daniel Sullivan to be Alaska's top legal adviser?

He boasts a bachelor's from Harvard and a law degree from Georgetown, has served in high-level White House and State Department positions, and his references include World Bank President Robert Zoellick, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Gen. John Abizaid, former commander of U.S. Central Command.

Sullivan's Ivy League resumé is a contrast from small-town lawyer Talis Colberg, and his nomination will be far less controversial than Palin's second pick for attorney general, Anchorage lawyer Wayne Anthony Ross.

Why Sullivan wants the job is yet to be determined. Is he simply yearning to return to the Last Frontier after years of navigating Washington, D.C. traffic? Or does he view Palin as a potential ticket back to a White House post? Or perhaps there's just less opportunity these days for a Republican in a Democrat-dominated D.C.

Regardless of the reason, Sullivan should be a boon to the Palin administration for however long he holds the job. He has learned to work with and advise some of the nation's biggest political personalities. Palin fits in that group, or wants to, depending on who you ask. But ultimately Alaskans need an attorney general who will serve them first and not the administration in power.

Unlike Ross - who in a few week's time on the job committed political suicide by backing Palin's questionable handling of Juneau's vacant Senate seat and was shot down by the state Legislature - Sullivan will have about seven months to prove his mettle before lawmakers are given a chance to oust him. Several lawmakers have said they expect his nomination to be confirmed.

Seven months is more than enough time for Alaskans and the Legislature to decide if Sullivan is a Palin lapdog or Alaskan guard dog. Here's hoping for the latter. In the meantime, he deserves a chance and our support.

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