Just weeks before the November election, the Sullivan campaign has come to Bethel.
As former Attorney General and Natural Resources Commissoiner Dan Sullivan works to unseat incumbent Senator Mark Begich, he’s yet to visit the Y-K Delta, in his year-long campaign, but plans to soon. In the meantime, his wife, Julie Fate Sullivan, was here on his behalf last week to introduce her husband to Southwest Alaskan voters. Despite a career spent in urban Alaska and Washington D.C., Fate Sullivan says her husband first connected with the state at her family’s Yukon fish camp.
“24 years ago, that’s the first place I ever brought him. To get up there and work with all of us, that’s the first part of Alaska Dan came to know and love, long before Anchorage or Fairbanks…we’d go into Fairbanks to pick up supplies. So he’s got a deep respect and understanding of rural Alaska, more than most people know,” said Fate Sullivan.
Fate Sullivan is Koyukon Athabascan, and has deep connections in the state. She’s worked as a journalist and as a staffer for the late Senator Ted Stevens. Her mother was the first female co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives. And Sullivan also had the support of a powerful surrogate in Bethel: Senator Lisa Murkowski, who’s filmed one commercial for him.
“I need a partner who will work to advance Alaska’s interests, not the Obama agenda,” said Murkowksi in the campaign ad.
Fate Sullivan accompanied Murkowski to the Association of Village Council President’s Convention in Bethel Tuesday. Murkowki addressed the Convention during her visit but also fit in some campaigning for Sullivan. Senator Begich also addressed the AVCP convention and campaigned in Bethel last week.
The national implications of the race are not lost on the outside donors pouring millions into the race. If Republicans take six seats from Democrats in November, they will control the senate. Murkowski, as the ranking member of the Senate’s Energy and Interior Appropriations committee, would become Chair, and that becomes part of her campaign pitch.
“We stand to gain a great deal from the seniority position and chairmanship position that I would hold. That’ something that Alaskans should consider when they look at this race,” said Murkowski.
The rural vote was essential to Murkowski’s successful 2010 write-in campaign. But to connect with rural voters, Murkowski says, candidates have to be here in person.
“There’s no substitute for being on the ground, with the people, and being part of the people,” said Murkowski.
Although Sullivan was not part of the people at the region’s largest gathering of tribal leaders last week, sending his wife as his proxy, was a first step.
“It’s a better understanding of who he is. We’re a family obviously. When people realize that not only am I born and raised in Alaska, but I’m Alaska Native, there’s a better understanding. Like I said, there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” said Fate Sullivan.
Dan Sullivan is set to be on the ground in Bethel on Friday, October 17th where he’s scheduled to speak at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon, among other campaign activities.