Former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell

Former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell

Opinion: Sen. Dan Sullivan: Alaska’s authentic fighter

Dan consistently pushes back against federal overreach and protects our access to federal lands.

In today’s political world, it’s not often you get to cast your vote FOR someone because of who they are and because of what they’ve done. Alaskans have that opportunity, however, with U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan. I’ve had the honor of knowing and serving in public office with Senator Dan. I write so Alaskans can learn more from someone who worked closely before with our senator and who can speak to why he has earned Alaskans’ continued trust and support.

Before becoming a U.S. senator, Dan served as Alaska’s attorney general and as the commissioner for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources while I was governor. When Sullivan was a member of my cabinet, I knew I could count on his honesty, his competence, his desire to serve Alaskans to the best of his abilities, and Dan brought boundless energy and enthusiasm to every task he touched.

As Alaska’s attorney general and DNR commissioner, Dan fought for Alaskan access to our lands and for the responsible development of our resources. He was always focused on responsible resource development as a means to an end — with the goal being good jobs and bright futures for every Alaskan. He stood up for Alaska small businesses and for big investment in our state that created thousands of jobs between 2010-2015. In addition, while in state service, Dan fought hard for those suffering under domestic violence and sexual assault, and for more opportunity for every Alaskan.

None of that has changed since Dan became our U.S. senator. In fact, he’s only gotten better at fighting for Alaskan opportunity.

Like many Alaskans, Senator Dan understands well that the federal government controls the lion’s share of Alaska’s lands, and that previous federal administrations have attempted to seize even more control of our state, preventing us from hunting, fishing, and developing on our lands. While in state office and now as our U.S. senator, Dan consistently pushes back against federal overreach and protects our access to federal lands.

As our senator, Dan is restoring our access to federal lands in numerous ways, including reversing the Obama administration’s attempt to lock down Alaska’s control of federal lands by determining the appropriate scope of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in the Clean Water Act. He led in securing an exemption to the Clinton-era Roadless Rule in the Tongass, and made progress towards constructing the lifesaving King Cove Road — a bipartisan goal Alaskans have sought for decades.

Sen. Sullivan protected Alaska’s hunting and fishing rights by working with his colleagues and the administration to nullify two different Obama administration regulations solely targeting Alaska that would have allowed the federal government to control wildlife management in our state. He’s also worked to transfer federal lands back to local communities and Alaska Native organizations throughout the state, and he was instrumental in leading the effort in Congress to weigh in with the U.S. Supreme Court in the historic Sturgeon series of cases to highlight Alaskans’ unique right to access our federal lands.

I don’t often read my Twitter feed anymore because the political content has grown so toxic. Still, on one recent morning a picture of the Capitol building in D.C., lit up against the early morning darkness, drew me to click on it. There, I found a comment of authentic gratefulness from Sen. Dan Sullivan regarding how 9/11 remains a “sacred day for America.” One meant to “remind[] us of the sacrifices so many Americans undertook to defend our nation and protect our fellow citizens after 9/11.” This, to me, represented the real Senator Dan, the one I know. Sincere, service oriented, always grateful, and always seeing the best in others.

Thank you, Senator Dan, for your continuing service in the Marine Corps reserves. Thank you, most of all, for remembering that public service is a trust, one that you take very seriously on behalf of each Alaskan. And, thank you, Julie, for sacrificing much so that Dan might serve us in Washington, D.C.

Not everyone will agree with all his policy choices, but no one can honestly say Sen. Dan Sullivan is anything but a good and decent human being who, as our U.S. senator, lifts our eyes to those things we have to be grateful for and fights relentlessly for us. I’ve seen Senator Dan behind the doors of an office and in the light of public scrutiny. What you see is what you get.

A leader. A fighter. One authentic, honest, hard-working Alaskan watching our back in Washington, D.C. That’s why I am voting to reelect Sen. Dan Sullivan, and ask you to join me in marking your ballot for him.


• By Sean Parnell, former Governor of Alaska


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