Al Gross (politician)

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Al Gross
Al Gross.png
Personal details
Born
Alan Stuart Gross

(1962-04-13) April 13, 1962 (age 59)
Juneau, Alaska, U.S.
Political partyIndependent
Other political
affiliations
Democratic
Spouse(s)Monica Gross
Children4
RelativesAvrum Gross (father)
EducationAmherst College (BA)
University of Washington (MD)
University of California, Los
Angeles
(MPH)
WebsiteCampaign website

Alan Stuart Gross (born April 13, 1962) is an American orthopedic surgeon and a commercial fisherman who, running as an independent candidate, was the Democratic nominee for the 2020 United States Senate election in Alaska. On August 18, 2020, he defeated three other candidates in the primary, and in November 2020 faced incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan. More than a week after the election, Sullivan's reelection in what was expected to be a close race was affirmed.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Gross was born in Juneau in 1962. He is the son of former Alaska Attorney General Avrum Gross and Shari Gross, the first Executive Director of the United Fishermen of Alaska, who also founded the League of Women Voters—Alaska.[4] As a child, he was part of the small Jewish community in Alaska, and had the first bar mitzvah in Southeast Alaska.[5] While attending Douglas High School in Juneau, Gross developed an interest in fishing, both sport and commercial. When he was 14, he bought his first commercial fishing boat with a bank loan. He commercially gillnet fished for salmon in the summer to pay his way through college and medical school.[6]

Gross attended Douglas High School in Juneau before enrolling at Amherst College, where he graduated in 1985 with a degree in neuroscience. He studied medicine at the University of Washington’s WWAMI Regional Medical Education Program, graduating in 1989.[7][6]

Medical career[edit]

After graduating from medical school, Gross served as the president of the Bartlett Regional Hospital medical staff. In 2006, he founded and served as the president of the Juneau Bone and Joint Center. Gross retired from full-time orthopedic surgery in 2013, but continues to work part time for the Petersburg Medical Center, and volunteers at a training hospital in Cambodia every year.[8]

Gross practiced as an orthopedic surgeon in Juneau, beginning in 1994. In 2013, Gross left his practice, along with his wife Monica Gross, to study health care economics, earning a master's of public health at University of California, Los Angeles. He has said that he grew uncomfortable with the high costs of healthcare, and pursued his MPH degree to study solutions.[8]

Political career[edit]

After earning his MPH, Gross returned to Alaska and began his advocacy for healthcare reform. In 2017, he co-sponsored two ballot initiatives in Alaska. The Quality Health Insurance for Alaskans Act sought to add certain provisions from the Affordable Care Act into state law, including protection against discrimination based on preexisting conditions, mandatory coverage for prenatal and maternal care, and provisions that children could remain covered by their parents' insurance until age 26. The Healthcare for Alaskans Act would codify the Medicaid expansion, already in effect due to an executive order by Governor Bill Walker.[8][9] Both initiatives were withdrawn from the ballot in December 2017. Supporters cited uncertainty in healthcare policy at the federal level as the reason for the withdrawal.[10]

On July 2, 2019, Gross announced he would run as an independent in the 2020 U. S. Senate election in Alaska.[11] He won the August Democratic primary against Democrat Edgar Blatchford and Independent Chris Cumings,[12] gaining the nomination of the Alaska Democratic Party, which had endorsed him before the filing deadline.[12][13]

Gross is running as an independent against Republican incumbent Senator Dan Sullivan. He has the support of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee[14] and The Lincoln Project.[15]

Gross said, "I stepped up to do this because the Alaska economy has been failing, we’ve been losing Alaskans to the Lower 48 for the past few years, and despite that labor loss, we had the highest unemployment in the country."[6]

The Daily Beast argued that Alaska "flirts with purple-state status" in part due to Gross's candidacy.[16] There has been speculation that the political fallout of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination could dampen support for incumbent Sullivan and benefit Gross's campaign.[17]

In October 2021, Gross ran for Hospital Board in Petersburg, Alaska and finished fourth.[18]

Political positions[edit]

Despite receiving the Alaska Democratic Party's endorsement, Gross is an independent politician, and says he is closer to Republicans on "issues like guns and immigration".[19]

Gross supports an overhaul of Medicare, including the addition of a public option. He also supports raising the minimum wage, defending collective bargaining rights for workers and unions, efforts to make college more affordable and accessible, and earlier tracking into trade schools. Citing his background in science, Gross supports policies that address climate change, including the growth of renewable energy and opposition to the Pebble Mine project. He also supports ending Citizens United and fixing political corruption.[20]

Gross fully supports instant-runoff voting.[21] He is neutral on Universal Basic Income (UBI), which resembles the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), saying, "The UBI check here in Alaska has been a great program, but any program like that, you have to be careful you don't disincentivize going back to the workforce."[22]

Health care[edit]

As a physician, Gross has supported initiatives to lower health care costs. His campaign endorsed a public health care option for individuals and small businesses.

In 2017, he wrote in support of single-payer, but he did not include single-payer as part of his senatorial campaign and his radio, social media and television ads initially opposed the idea.[23][24] In 2020, he said he supports federal legalization of cannabis to help small businesses and others.[21]

Social policy[edit]

Gross was endorsed by Planned Parenthood[25] and the Human Rights Campaign.[26]

Foreign policy[edit]

Gross has said that Russian and Chinese interest in the Arctic must be counterbalanced by a strong U.S. military.[27] He has said that he would be a "staunch defender" of Israel.[28]

Gun policy[edit]

Gross has said that he is a "strong proponent of the Second Amendment" and "will vote against banning any guns." He has stated support for background checks on military assault weapons.[29]

Environmental and energy policy[edit]

Gross opposes the proposed Pebble Mine, which threatens to harm the ecosystem of Bristol Bay.[30] His campaign could have benefited from reports of Sullivan's inconsistency on this issue, and secretly recorded tapes in which corporate executives indicate that Sullivan could switch his position on the mine after the election.[31][32]

Gross accepts the scientific consensus on climate change and its impacts on Alaska.[33] He supports diversification of Alaska's economy and its energy supply, including renewable energy. Like Sullivan, he supports oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.[34][24]

Gross opposes the Green New Deal.[21]

Electoral history[edit]

2020[edit]

2020 Democratic-Libertarian-Independence primary results[35]
Party Candidate Votes %
Independent Al Gross 50,047 79.87%
Democratic Edgar Blatchford 5,463 8.72%
Alaskan Independence John Howe 4,165 6.65%
Independent Christopher Cumings 2,989 4.77%
Total votes 62,664 100.0%
2020 United States Senate election in Alaska[36]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Dan Sullivan (incumbent) 191,112 53.90% +5.94%
Independent Al Gross 146,068 41.19% -4.64%
Alaskan Independence John Howe 16,806 4.74% N/A
Write-in 601 0.17% -0.32%
Total votes 354,587 100.0%
Republican hold

References[edit]

  1. ^ Millhiser, Ian (November 11, 2020). "Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan wins a second term". Vox. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  2. ^ Hulse, Carl (November 11, 2020). "Senator Dan Sullivan wins re-election in Alaska, and President Trump takes the state". New York Times. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  3. ^ Mueller, Eleanor (November 11, 2020). "GOP's Sullivan defeats Gross in Alaska Senate race". Politico. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  4. ^ Bauman, Margaret (July 4, 2019). "Gross files as independent in U.S. Senate race". The Cordova Times. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  5. ^ July 8, Matthew Kassel; 2020 (July 8, 2020). "Alaska Senate candidate Al Gross hopes his outsider status will propel him to D.C." Jewish Insider. Retrieved September 16, 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b c Pink, Aiden (April 27, 2020). "Meet the Jewish fisherman from Alaska who could flip the Senate blue".
  7. ^ "Meet Dr. Al Gross". Dr. Al Gross for U.S. Senate. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Wohlforth, Charles (December 3, 2017). "This disillusioned doctor quit his practice. Now he works to reform Alaska's overpriced health system". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  9. ^ Kitchenman, Andrew (October 20, 2020). "Al Gross points to medical background in Senate bid". Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  10. ^ Boerger, Emily (December 26, 2017). "Two health care initiatives dropped from Alaska's 2018 election". State of Reform. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  11. ^ "Gross announces candidacy for Alaska US Senate seat". Associated Press. July 2, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Kitchenman, Andrew (August 13, 2020). "Al Gross faces two opponents for Alaska's Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate". Alaska Public Media. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  13. ^ Greenwood, Max (August 19, 2020). "Independent Al Gross wins Alaska Democratic Senate primary". The Hill.
  14. ^ "DSCC Endorses Dr. Al Gross in Alaska Senate Race". Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. December 3, 2019. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  15. ^ "AL GROSS FOR THE GREAT LAND". The Lincoln Project. July 29, 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  16. ^ Brodey, Sam (June 29, 2020). "'A Little Bit Weird' Alaska Flirts With Purple-State Status". The Daily Beast. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  17. ^ Akin, Stephanie (September 24, 2020). "Can firing up the partisan base backfire in Alaska?". Roll Call. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  18. ^ https://www.kfsk.org/2021/10/05/voters-back-incumbents-mostly-in-hotly-contested-petersburg-election/
  19. ^ Smith, Zachary Snowdon (September 25, 2020). "Gross: 'I'm not beholden to the Democratic Party'". The Cordova Times. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  20. ^ "Al Gross Profile".
  21. ^ a b c Townsend, Lori; Media, Alaska Public (September 18, 2020). "LISTEN: U.S. Senate candidate Al Gross is here to answer your questions".
  22. ^ Gross/YouTube, Al. "Meet the Jewish fisherman from Alaska who could flip the Senate blue". The Forward.
  23. ^ Segall, Peter (July 22, 2020). "Senate candidate thinks a public health option will attract jobs". Juneau Empire.
  24. ^ a b Bohrer, Becky (October 20, 2020). "Alaska U.S. Senate Al Gross hopes to ride Democratic wave". Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  25. ^ "Vote for Dr. Al Gross and Alyse Galvin". Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  26. ^ "Human Rights Campaign Announces Pro-Equality Leaders for U.S. Senate". Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  27. ^ "Our Military". Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  28. ^ "Meet the Jewish fisherman from Alaska who could flip the Senate blue". Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  29. ^ "Race for the Senate 2020: A Q&A with Al Gross". Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  30. ^ Gross, Al (August 5, 2020). "PRESS RELEASE: DR. AL GROSS RELEASES STATEMENT ON DAN SULLIVAN'S 2,350 DAY SILENCE ON PEBBLE MINE PROJECT". Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  31. ^ Cohen, Rachel M. (October 12, 2020). "Locked in Tight Race, GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan Caught in Environmental Scandal". The Intercept. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  32. ^ "Senate 2020: In Alaska, a Controversy Over an Embattled Mine Has Tightened the Race". InsideClimate News. October 19, 2020. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  33. ^ "Climate Change". Dr. Al Gross for US Senate. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  34. ^ "Energy". Dr. Al Gross for US Senate. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  35. ^ "Alaska Secretary of State's office: Election Summary Report - Official Results" (PDF).
  36. ^ "2020 GENERAL ELECTION Election Summary Report - Official Results" (PDF). Alaska Division of Elections. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Alaska
(Class 2)
Endorsed

2020
Most recent