Friday, September 13, 2013

Joe Miller With Polish - Meet Dan Sullivan

Image from AG Confirmation Hearing
Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan's resignation was announced yesterday and pundits already are weighing his chances in the 2014 US Senate race. 

In February 2010 after listening to the confirmation hearings for Dan Sullivan to be Attorney General (he'd already served in that position for 8 months) I wrote, in my normal understated way, at the end of my post:
"I wouldnʻt be surprised to see Mr. Sullivan running for Governor or Senator sometime."
I knew at the time that this was a man who would definitely be a player in Alaska politics.

Here was a marine, Harvard and Georgetown graduate, attorney, Presidential Fellow working with Condoleezza Rice, married into a solid Alaskan political family from Fairbanks with strong anti-government ideology.

His strategy, he told the Judiciary Committee, was to work with other Attorneys General to collectively sue the federal government on a list of topics from endangered species to tribal sovereignty.  My impression was that this is a guy who plans for everything and readjusts quickly to stay the course when the unexpected happens. 

This guy is Joe Miller with polish.  Joe Miller for the man in a suit and tie and the women around them in their dresses and heels.  Joe's ideology packaged for the moderate and polite.  At the time I thought he'd be a shoe-in for whatever he ran for in Alaska.  It's not that his views are more moderate, just his presentation and style. 

Judiciary committee chair Jay Ramras fawned over Sullivan so shamelessly at the hearing in 2010, that I felt obligated to talk about how to even report it:
"Itʻs hard to be purely a reporter (in the literal sense) and not to add shading on the confirmation hearing for Dan Sullivan. In fact, simply presenting the cold facts would hardly convey the very warm reception Sullivan received. Committee Chair Jay Ramras did everything but blow kisses at the nominee and his in-laws (former Fairbanks Rep. Hugh ʻBudʻ Fate and former UA Regent Mary Jane Fate) who were in attendance."

The only attempt to do the serious oversight work of a confirmation hearing came from Rep. Heron of Bethel who questioned Sullivan on his stand on Native Sovereignty.  Sullivan said his concern was for the rights of non-Natives and Natives who were not members.  He went on to tout a cooperative approach with Natives in getting transportation infrastructure. That sounds more like using the power of the Native organizations to get what Sullivan and the Parnell administration wanted than any interest in Native rights.

This questioning was telling given the State of Alaska's recent appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court on behalf of a man that a tribal court declared an unfit parent.  Despite the Governor's much vaunted "Choose Respect" program to stop domestic violence, it appears that tribal courts are more dangerous to the Parnell administration than men who beat their girlfriends "so badly he broke three of her ribs and collapsed one of her lungs."

You'd think perhaps Sullivan's mother-in-law, a Koyukon Athabascan, ought to have some influence on him.  I realize that this case is under a new attorney general, but it has the fingerprints of Sullivan's strategy for court challenges to pursue his strong and active anti-government regulation stance.  

You can hear some of that discussion between Herron and Sullivan  in this four minute video I made at the hearing.

You can also hear him recite his background to the committee in the video below:


  1. John Howard Lindauer II came in from Chicago, Raymond B. "Vic" Vickers, from Florida, and Joe Miller from Kansas, imagining quick and easy ascension in Alaska politics.

    When you only look at the resume, all have seemingly accomplished a lot in their short and frenzied (sometimes occasional) residencies in our State.

    However, it's some nerve for a newbie like Dan Sullivan to think he's got a place in the United States Senate for our little State.

    He looks like Senator John Thune. No doubt, he thinks himself a statesman when he looks in the mirror. He's got the pedigree, even the Native mother-in-law. All this only makes me dig in my heels for Mark Begich, even though he let us down on gun control. Damn it.

  2. The pure arrogance and sense of self-entitlement that people like Sullivan have is so insulting - and ultimately dangerous for Alaska and Alaskans.


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