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Dan Sullivan (U.S. senator)

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Dan Sullivan
Official portrait, 2015
United States Senator
from Alaska
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with Lisa Murkowski
Preceded byMark Begich
Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources
In office
December 6, 2010 – September 24, 2013
GovernorSean Parnell
Preceded byThomas E. Irwin
Succeeded byJoseph Balash
27th Attorney General of Alaska
In office
June 17, 2009 – November 30, 2010
GovernorSarah Palin
Sean Parnell
Preceded byTalis J. Colberg
Succeeded byJohn J. Burns
Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs
In office
June 6, 2006 – January 1, 2009
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byEarl Anthony Wayne
Succeeded byJose W. Fernandez
Personal details
Daniel Scott Sullivan

(1964-11-13) November 13, 1964 (age 59)
Fairview Park, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Julie Fate
(m. 1994)
RelationsHugh Fate (father-in-law)
Mary Jane Fate (mother-in-law)
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Georgetown University (MS, JD)
WebsiteSenate website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Marine Corps
Years of service1993–1997 (active)
1997–2024 (reserve)
Rank Colonel
UnitUnited States Marine Corps Reserve
Commands6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
Awards Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Legion of Merit

Daniel Scott Sullivan (born November 13, 1964) is an American politician and attorney serving as the junior United States senator from Alaska since 2015. A member of the Republican Party, Sullivan previously served as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources from 2010 to 2013, and as the Alaska Attorney General from 2009 to 2010.

Sullivan grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He studied economics at Harvard University, then earned joint foreign service and Juris Doctor degrees from Georgetown University. He was on active duty for the United States Marine Corps from 1993 to 1997, 2004 to 2006, and in 2009 and 2013.

Between 1997 and 1999, he clerked for judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Alaska Supreme Court. He worked as an attorney in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska, from 2000 to 2002. Sullivan moved to Washington, DC to work for the Bush administration; he worked with the National Economic Council and the National Security Council and later served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs.

Sullivan ran in the 2014 election for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic incumbent Mark Begich. In August, he won the Republican primary, defeating Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller. Sullivan narrowly defeated Begich in the general election, 47.96% to 45.83%, a margin of 6,014 votes out of 282,400 cast. He was reelected in 2020, defeating independent challenger Al Gross by about 13 percentage points.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Sullivan was born and raised in Fairview Park, Ohio, the son of Sandra (née Simmons) and Thomas C. Sullivan. Sullivan's father was the president and CEO of RPM International, a publicly traded multinational corporation with over 15,000 employees that was founded by Sullivan's grandfather, Frank C. Sullivan. Sullivan's brother, Frank C. Sullivan, became the president and CEO of RPM in 2002.[2]

Sullivan graduated from Culver Military Academy in Indiana in 1983. He studied economics at Harvard University, graduating in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude. He went to Georgetown University, where he studied at both the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Georgetown University Law Center, receiving joint Juris Doctor and Master of Science in Foreign Service degrees in 1993. Sullivan was a member of the Georgetown Law Journal and earned a Juris Doctor degree with cum laude honors.[3]

Early career[edit]

Military service[edit]

Sullivan joined the United States Marine Corps in 1993 after completing his law and foreign service degrees. He was on active duty from 1993 to 1997, when he transitioned to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Sullivan spent several years with a reconnaissance battalion based in Anchorage. He was recalled to active duty three times: from 2004 to 2006, again in early 2009, and for a six-week tour in Afghanistan in July 2013.[4] Sullivan is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. He received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.[5]

Early legal career[edit]

After leaving active duty in the Marines, Sullivan served as a law clerk to judge Andrew Kleinfeld of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1997 to 1998 and to chief justice Warren Matthews of the Alaska Supreme Court from 1998 to 1999.[6] In 2000, Sullivan joined the Anchorage office of the law firm Perkins Coie, where he worked in commercial law and corporate law. He joined the Alaska bar that same year.[6]

White House and State Department[edit]

In 2002, Sullivan was selected to be a White House Fellow, where he served at the National Security Council. He then headed the International Economics Directorate of the National Economic Council and National Security Council staffs at the White House. He advised President George W. Bush and the National Security Advisor and NEC chairman. He left the White House in 2004.[5]

In 2006, Bush appointed Sullivan as United States Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs. The United States Senate unanimously confirmed Sullivan in May of that year. He served in this capacity until January 2009. While serving as Assistant Secretary of State he owned a house in Anchorage and continued to vote in Alaska elections by absentee ballot, while claiming Bethesda, Maryland, as his primary residence for tax purposes.[7][8]

Alaska Attorney General[edit]

Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg resigned in February 2009 over the Alaska Public Safety Commissioner dismissal scandal. Governor Sarah Palin nominated Wayne Anthony Ross for attorney general, but the Alaska Legislature rejected Ross. Palin nominated Sullivan.[9] He was sworn into office in June 2009, while the Alaska Legislature was out of session. The Alaska Legislature unanimously confirmed Sullivan's appointment on April 9, 2010.[10]

Sullivan was retained by Governor Sean Parnell. He stepped down as attorney general on December 5, 2010, to be replaced by John J. Burns.[11][12]

Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources[edit]

On November 18, 2010, shortly after being elected, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell appointed Sullivan as Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, replacing former Commissioner Thomas E. Irwin. In 2013, during his term in office, Sullivan was deployed to Afghanistan for six weeks, in his role as the executive officer of the 4th Marine Division's Anti-Terrorism Battalion.[13]

U.S. Senate[edit]



Bumper sticker from Sullivan's Senate campaign.

On October 15, 2013, Sullivan announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic incumbent Mark Begich in the 2014 election.[14] He was endorsed by the Club for Growth.[15] Begich had defeated longtime incumbent Ted Stevens in the previous election. Stevens had filed for the election in 2009[16] following his exoneration,[17] and was widely expected to win, but died in a plane crash on August 9, 2010.[18] This left the race for the Republican nomination wide open.

On June 10, 2014, Sullivan offered Begich the Alaska Agreement.[19] This was a modified version of the People's Pledge. This tactic had previously been used in the Massachusetts 2012 U.S. Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown to drastically limit outside, third-party spending.[19] Begich rejected the agreement.[19] According to Ballotpedia, outside spending in the race hit nearly $40 million.[20]

Despite former Governor Sarah Palin's late-race endorsement of 2010 party nominee Joe Miller, Sullivan won the August 19 Republican primary with 40% of the vote to and Miller's 32% and Treadwell's 25%.[21][22]

On November 12, 2014, the Associated Press[23] and CNN[24] declared that Sullivan had defeated Begich in the general election by about 8,000 votes—48.6% to 45.4%. At the time, there were approximately 31,000 votes left to count and Begich refused to concede.[25] Begich eventually conceded on November 17.[26] Final results showed that Sullivan won by 6,014 votes out of 282,400 cast, 47.96% to 45.83%.[27][28]


In the 2020 election, after running unopposed in the Republican primary election, Sullivan faced independent candidate Al Gross, an orthopedic surgeon and former commercial fisherman who had been nominated by the Alaska Democratic Party. The race was considered "unexpectedly close," with some polls indicating that the two candidates were neck-and-neck.[29] Gross touted his "deep roots" in the state and published several campaign videos that received national attention.[30] In addition to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's funding of Gross's candidacy, Gross reportedly did "an excellent job fundraising", outraising Sullivan between July 1 and the end of September 2019.[31]

While the race was considered "too early to call" for several days after the November 3 election, Gross called Sullivan to concede on November 13.[32] Ultimately, Sullivan defeated Gross 54% to 41%, with Alaskan Independence Party nominee John Howe receiving nearly 5% of the vote.[33]


Sullivan was sworn into office on January 6, 2015, by Vice President Joe Biden.

Committee assignments[edit]

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Senators Joni Ernst, Dan Sullivan, John McCain, Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham, and Cory Gardner attending the 2016 International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit in Singapore
  • Committee on Armed Services
    • Subcommittee on Personnel
    • Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support (Ranking)
    • Subcommittee on Seapower
  • Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    • Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations, and Innovation
    • Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband
    • Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security
    • Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change, and Manufacturing (Ranking)
  • Committee on Environment and Public Works
    • Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight
    • Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety
    • Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife
  • Committee on Veterans' Affairs [34]


Political positions[edit]

According to FiveThirtyEight, Sullivan voted in line with President Donald Trump's position 91.5% of the time.[35] According to the American Conservative Union's Center for Legislative Accountability, Sullivan had a lifetime conservative rating of 79.5.[36] Americans for Democratic Action gave Sullivan a zero on their liberalism score in 2019.[37]


Sullivan is a self-described "pro-life Catholic" and supported the June 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade. He supports improving child care and adoption as alternatives to abortion.[38]

Donald Trump[edit]

Sullivan opposed Trump during the 2016 presidential race, releasing a statement that said, "We need national leaders who can lead by example" on issues of sexual assault and violence against women. Sullivan added, "The reprehensible revelations about Donald Trump have shown that he can't. Therefore, I am withdrawing my support for his candidacy."[39]

Sullivan voted to acquit Trump at the conclusion of his first impeachment trial.[40][41] During Sullivan's reelection bid, Trump endorsed him, saying Sullivan supported Trump's agenda.[42]

By October 6, 2020, Sullivan announced that he would be voting for Trump, saying the choice was "very clear."[43] Sullivan also voted to acquit Trump during his second impeachment trial.[44]


Sullivan rejects that there is a scientific consensus on climate change.[45][46] He has argued that "the verdict is still out on the human contribution to climate change"; the scientific consensus is that human activity is a primary contributor to climate change.[46]

In October 2020, the Environmental Investigation Agency recorded and published conversations between undercover actors, who pretended to be potential investors in Pebble Mine in Alaska, and corporate executives. In the recordings, the executives made clear that they intended to expand the mine substantially beyond their previously stated intentions, and that they believed Sullivan would surreptitiously support this project after the election. In response, Sullivan expressed his opposition to the project.[47][48] An investigation by Popular Information found that besides the $10,000 Sullivan received from Pebble employees and executives, the total rose to $34,000 when contributions from Northern Dynasty were included.[47] Sullivan said he planned to donate campaign contributions from Pebble Mine executives to charity.[49] In January 2023, the EPA essentially blocked the project, using its power to restrict development to protect watersheds.[50] In May 2023, President Biden celebrated the EPA's veto in a Rose Garden meeting with 200 opponents of the project, including many Bristol Bay tribes and nationwide environmental organizations.[51]

Sullivan lobbied the Trump administration to open up the Tongass National Forest in Alaska to logging and other forms of development.[52][53] In October 2020, the Trump administration permitted such projects, stripping protections that had been in place for nearly two decades.[53]

Foreign policy[edit]

In July 2017, Sullivan co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), which made it a federal crime for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.[54][55]

Dan Sullivan receiving a commemorative gun during a Friends of the NRA event in Alaska.

On June 6, 2021, Sullivan and Senators Tammy Duckworth and Christopher Coons visited Taipei in an U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport to meet President Tsai Ing-wen and Minister Joseph Wu during the pandemic outbreak of Taiwan to announce President Joe Biden's donation plan of 750,000 COVID-19 vaccines included in the global COVAX program.[56][57][58]

Gun policy[edit]

In the 2014 Senate campaign in Alaska, the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) declined to make an endorsement. The NRA gave Begich an "A−" rating and Sullivan an "AQ" rating, the "Q" indicating the rating was qualified because Sullivan had no voting record at the time.[59][60]

Health care and public health[edit]

Sullivan opposes the Affordable Care Act and voted to repeal it.[61][62][63]

On November 17, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sullivan did not wear a mask while presiding over the Senate. Senator Sherrod Brown asked him to "please wear a mask as he speaks." Sullivan told Brown he was not taking instructions from Brown and later called Brown a "far-left senator." Senator Ted Cruz called Brown an "ass" for making the request and suggested it was virtue signaling.[64][65] CDC guidelines at the time stated that people should wear face masks while indoors.[65][66]


In 2016, Sullivan defended the Republican refusal to hold a hearing for President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, on the basis that the nomination was made "in the midst of an important national election." Sullivan said it was not "about the individual, it's about the principle" and "Alaskans deserve to have a voice in that direction through their vote, and we will ensure that they have one."[67][68] In October 2020, in the last few weeks before the 2020 presidential election, Sullivan defended Trump's decision to nominate a Supreme Court justice—saying he was "well within his constitutional authority"—and voted to confirm the nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.[67][68][69]

Missile defense system[edit]

In 2017, after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened the United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strike and conducted an ICBM test in which its missile landed about 200 miles (320 km) off the coast of Japan, Sullivan called for improvements to the U.S. missile defense system.[70]

Social policy[edit]

Sullivan has not made social issues a major part of his platform.[71] He opposes abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother.[72] In 2022 he voted for the Respect for Marriage Act.[72]

Sullivan introduced the bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, the FIRST STEP Act, but opposed the act after incurring amendments by the House of Representatives. The amended bill passed the Senate 87–12 on December 18, 2018.[73] Trump signed the bill into law 3 days later.

Sullivan has cosponsored the bipartisan STATES Act proposed in the 115th U.S. Congress by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner that would exempt individuals or corporations in compliance with state cannabis laws from federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act.[74]

2021 National Defense Authorization Act[edit]

In December 2020, during his lame-duck period, Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.[75] The veto left new Coast Guard cutters that were scheduled to be homeported in Alaska without port facilities to maintain them.[75] Sullivan questioned the veto, because it put in question whether the cutters could be placed in Alaska.

2021 storming of the United States Capitol[edit]

On May 28, 2021, Sullivan voted against creating an independent commission to investigate the 2021 United States Capitol attack.[76]

Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023[edit]

Sullivan was among the 31 Senate Republicans who voted against final passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.[77]

Personal life[edit]

While at Georgetown, Sullivan met fellow law student Julie Fate, a staffer for U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. Sullivan and Fate married and had three daughters. Fate is the daughter of retired dentist and former Alaska State Representative Hugh "Bud" Fate and Mary Jane Fate, who was once the co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives.[5]

As of 2018, according to OpenSecrets.org, Sullivan's net worth was more than $2.3 million.[78]

Electoral history[edit]

Alaska Senator (Class II) Republican Primary, 2014[79]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dan Sullivan 44,740 40.05
Republican Joe Miller 35,904 32.14
Republican Mead Treadwell 27,807 24.90
Republican John M. Jaramillo 3,246 2.91
Total votes 113,752 100.0
Alaska Senator (Class II) General Election, 2014[80]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dan Sullivan 135,445 47.96
Democratic Mark Begich (incumbent) 129,431 45.83
Libertarian Mark S. Fish 10,512 3.72
Independent Ted Gianoutsos 5,636 2.00
Write-in 1,376 0.49
Total votes 282,400 100.00
Alaska Senator (Class II) General Election, 2020[81]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dan Sullivan (incumbent) 191,112 53.90
Independent Al Gross 146,068 41.19
Independence John Howe 16,806 4.74
Write-in 601 0.17
Total votes 354,587 100.0%


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  20. ^ "United States Senate elections in Alaska, 2014". Ballotpedia. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
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  24. ^ Peligri, Justin. Republican challenger defeats Begich in Alaska Senate race, CNN, November 12, 2014.
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  30. ^ Touchberry, Ramsey (May 22, 2020). "A grizzly-fighting, independent doctor from Alaska could help Democrats turn the Senate blue". Newsweek.
  31. ^ "AK-Sen: DSCC Smells GOP Blood In The Water, Endorses Dr. Al Gross (I) For U.S. Senate". Daily Kos.
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  33. ^ "Alaska Senate election results 2020". NBC News.
  34. ^ "U.S. Senate: Committee Assignments of the 118th Congress".
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  37. ^ "ADA Voting Records | Americans for Democratic Action". Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  38. ^ Sullivan, Dan. ""My statement on the Supreme Court's ruling today in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization:"". Twitter. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
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  40. ^ Sullivan, Sen Dan (February 5, 2020). "This afternoon, I voted to acquit President Trump on both charges brought against him by the House of Representatives. My full statement submitted to the congressional record". @SenDanSullivan. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
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  57. ^ Taijing Wu; Zen Soo (June 6, 2021). "Senators say US donating vaccines to Taiwan amid China row". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 6, 2021. Retrieved September 4, 2023.
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  76. ^ "Which senators supported a Jan. 6 Capitol riot commission". Washington Post. May 28, 2021.
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  81. ^ "2020 GENERAL ELECTION Election Summary Report - Official Results" (PDF). Alaska Division of Elections. Retrieved December 2, 2020.

External links[edit]

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Preceded by Attorney General of Alaska
Succeeded by
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Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Alaska
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Preceded by United States Senator (Class 2) from Alaska
Served alongside: Lisa Murkowski
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