Original Dan Sullivan was Mayor of Anchorage, just like his dad, George. He’s a solid, mainstream Republican conservative, as was his father. He’s a fourth generation Alaskan, with roots in Valdez, Nenana and Fairbanks. He’s 64, happily married for over 30 years, with a daughter and God knows how many nieces and nephews from his eight siblings. And he’s got that Irish in his eyes.
I really like this guy, although I’m not sure I ever met him, but I did know his father. He didn’t get into politics until he was 47, in 1999, when he ran for Anchorage Assembly. Babbie and I left Alaska in 2001, so we never ran into each other, as far as I know. But I knew all about his father, especially from my Uncle Fritz.
I don’t know all the details, but when Uncle Fritz came to Alaska after the war he drank like a fish and was a large, angry and violent man. I’ve always believed that there were a lot of people like George Sullivan, who, after serving in the Aleutians became a Federal Marshall (just like his own father), tried to keep Uncle Fritz out of serious legal trouble. They were almost all WW II vets themselves, and they all understood what my uncle had gone through in the war, and they respected him for it. And Uncle Fritz always had nothing but good things to say about “Sully”. In fact, to tell you the truth, I never heard anybody say anything bad about George Sullivan. He was one of those natural born Irish-American politicians, and a man of intelligence and integrity.
This is the first time I’ve really felt the urge to return to Alaska. The primary is on August 16th, so the next eleven weeks are going to be intense up there. Murkowski has over $3 million, and Mayor Dan is starting from scratch. But as soon as I get the green light, I’ll be trying to raise some bucks on his behalf here in the Lower 48. As soon as he gets a campaign manager and a finance chair I’ll try to be of assistance in any way I can.
Political amateur Joe Miller beat Murkowski in the primary six years ago, and I’m not aware of anything she’s done to endear her to the conservative base of the Alaska electorate since then. She may have bagged some pork, but that’s not what Alaska needs right now. Substantively, she has no accomplishments in her fourteen year career. The WSJ once dubbed her father, Frank, a Republican “utility infielder” in the Senate, and he shines in comparison to his dimwitted daughter.
Dan says he’ll run a positive campaign, and that’s smart. Murkowski’s ineffectiveness in the Senate is glaringly obvious, and she is such a transparent airhead that even low information voters can see she has no business in the United States Senate. But she’s a woman and a mother, so you can’t throw punches. In her case, it’s not necessary.
The thing is, I love politics, I’ve been at it a very long time, and I have a lot of ideas. I’ve known Lisa Murkowski since she was a 21 year old volunteer on her father’s campaign for the Senate in 1980. And while I’ve been gone for fifteen years, I still know a lot about Alaska politics.
When I got to Juneau in ’83 I made a lot of friends who had been in the Legislature for a long time, and they used to tell me stories. One of my favorites was about Mayor Dan’s father, who had been appointed to fill a vacancy in the House. When the Good Friday earthquake hit South Central in “64, Governor Egan called a bunch of legislators up to his office to share the small bits of information he had. Communication to Anchorage had been cut off, and nobody knew how bad it was, only that it was very bad. Somebody made a wisecrack about how Anchorage kind of had it coming, and this totally pissed off George M. Sullivan. He had a wife, nine kids, and innumerable friends and neighbors who were unaccounted for, and you couldn’t help but fear the worst. He got up and knocked this guy flat on his ass, right there in the Governor’s Conference Room.
Anchorage’s sports arena is named for George M. Sullivan. That’s where we have our boxing matches. He was a great man, and a great Alaskan.