In a reversal, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan says he supports a ballot measure that would increase the state minimum wage.
In a pre-Primary debate in Fairbanks, Sullivan and then-candidate Joe Miller both said they oppose Ballot Measure 3, which would increase the state’s minimum wage by $2 over two years.
But Sullivan, in a story published online Monday by the Wall Street Journal, said he now supports the ballot measure.
“Because it is a state-driven initiative, I do support the motion to place a minimum wage question directly to the people of Alaska, and I personally intend to vote for it,” Sullivan said in a written statement.
He says he still opposes a national minimum wage increase, saying Alaskans know best how to strengthen their economy.
The campaign of his Democratic opponent, Sen. Mark Begich, promptly issued a press release noting Sullivan’s change of position. Begich supports both Alaska’s Ballot Measure 3 as well as a bill in Congress to boost the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
The Sullivan campaign told the Journal the candidate changed his mind after he had a chance to read the initiative.
Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami accuses Sullivan of flip-flopping.
“Dan Sullivan appears to be able to read polls and knows that opposition to the wage increase might have helped him in a closed primary, but it hurts his appeal to general election voters,” the labor leader said in a press release.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, since 2002, every ballot measure to increase a state’s minimum wage has passed, most by wide margins. The paper also reports that such measures typically increase voter turnout by 1 percent and there’s no evidence the increase helps Democrats, as commonly believed.