Sullivan wins reelection in Alaska, clinching Republicans’ 50th Senate seat
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), 55, is now projected to win a second term representing Alaska. This will officially clinch 50 seats in the Senate almost cementing a Republican majority there in the next Congress. Both CNN and NBC News called the race shortly before 10 a.m. EST on Wednesday.
Sullivan, who first won election in 2014, beat Al Gross, an Independent who was supported by national Democrats in their effort to flip the seat. Gross is a former orthopedic surgeon and commercial fisherman and is the son of former Alaska Attorney General Avrum Gross (D). Sullivan joins the growing ranks of Republican incumbents who have successfully defended seats that Democrats targeted this year in their efforts to win the Senate majority.
Polls had previously shown Sullivan with a narrow lead in the race. Outside groups poured millions of dollars in the lead-up to Election Day as some surveys showed the race would be very competitive. It was, but in the end, Gross’ fundraisers were not enough to take the seat.
Alaska is yet another state where Democrats have failed to unseat Republicans in 2020. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) all won reelection in states that were highly targeted by Democrats who dumped millions into those contests.
Sullivan vigorously defended himself when he was repeatedly attacked for being tied too closely to President Trump. Democrats had hoped that the argument would sway voters in the state to vote for an Independent candidate. The ploy did not work and in turn, Sullivan accused Gross of exaggerated claims to independence and close ties to Democrats.
On Tuesday, Gross was still promoting “we can win this” as he tweeted out that there were still more than 100,000 ballots that were outstanding in the contentious race.
More than 100,000 ballots left to count. 30% of the vote not counted out there! We can win this. #AlwaysAlaska
— Dr. Al Gross (@DrAlGrossAK) November 11, 2020
“I want to congratulate my fellow Marine, Senator Dan Sullivan on his victory. Alaskans know Dan as a man who always puts service before self and who has championed the unique needs of his state in Washington,” National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) said in a statement. “The state will be well served with another six years of his representation.”
This win confirms that control of the Senate will come down to two Jan. 5 runoffs in Georgia, one between Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and the Rev. Raphael Warnock and the other between Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Jon Ossoff. Both Republicans are favored in these races.
Sullivan’s win comes a day after Republican Senator Thom Tillis won re-election in North Carolina.
With Biden’s presumptive White House victory, Democrats need to pick up three Republican Senate seats to hold 50 Senate seats, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wielding the tie-breaking vote. That means they must win both seats in Georgia.
Immediately after Sullivan’s race was called in his favor, media outlets reported that President Trump had won the state as well. This adds three Electoral College votes to Trump’s tally.
With 75 percent of expected ballots counted, Trump led with nearly 57 percent of the vote, compared to 39 percent for Joe Biden. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Alaska by double digits as well.
President Trump has not conceded the election to Joe Biden and there are a number of states that are being contested. Lawsuits are pending in front of the Supreme Court concerning voter fraud and voting irregularities.