A U.S. Senate candidate in Alaska bills himself as an “independent,” but he told Democratic donors behind closed doors that he’s actually “to the left” and is only claiming to be an independent now in the hopes it will get him elected.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that Al Gross, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), made the admission to Democratic donors on Wednesday.
“I will caucus with the Democrats. I’ve been an independent since I was 18, but if you look at my platform, you’ll see that most of my values are to the left,” Gross said, according to the outlet. “I’ve met with leadership in the Senate and they are very understanding that my best pathway to win is to remain as an independent.”
Such an admission may not sit well with Alaskans, who aren’t keen on Democrat policies such as gun control.
While running for Senate, however, Gross has claimed that he was “running for U.S. Senate as an independent Alaskan,” and that “out here, if you can’t think for yourself, you won’t survive.”
Alaska briefly had a Democrat senator, Mark Begich, after he was elected in the wave that brought Barack Obama to the White House in 2008, but he lost re-election in 2014. Before him, the state hadn’t had a Democratic senator since Mike Gravel lost renomination in 1980. He was replaced by Republican Frank Murkowski, father of current Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
As the Free Beacon noted, President Donald Trump won Alaska “by nearly 15 points in 2016.” The outlet spoke to University of Alaska-Fairbanks political scientist Jerry McBeath, who said 58% of the Alaska’s electorate identify as “nonpartisan and undeclared,” suggesting, “if you’re aiming for the mass of Alaska voters, you would talk about yourself as an independent candidate.”
“There are all these [positions] that the national Democratic Party has that are unpopular in Alaska, such as the Second Amendment—gun control and gun rights and the like—and of course the abortion issue,” McBeath told the Free Beacon. “It’s an uphill battle for Gross in this election.”
Sullivan will obviously use Gross’ admission and his ties to the Democratic Party as the election heats up. In addition to his ties to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Gross has been endorsed by several liberal groups, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and failed presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. He was also backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which Schumer leads. Gross registered as an independent with the Federal Election Commission.
“Gross has also benefited heavily from big-spending outside groups. The Lincoln Project, a super PAC founded by failed Republican strategists whose ‘singular mission’ is to ‘defeat Donald Trump,’ has spent more than $1.3 million on ads backing Gross,” the Free Beacon reported. “Gross ran in the state’s Democratic primary as a ‘nonpartisan’ candidate, receiving 74 percent of the vote. Sullivan, meanwhile, did not face a primary challenge. The Alaska Republican holds a strong financial advantage, having raised nearly $7.9 million to Gross’s $5.2 million as of July 29. Sullivan holds $5.3 million on hand, compared with Gross’s $2.9 million.”