Sen. Dan Sullivan, a reliable if somewhat low-profile conservative, has won a second term in the US Senate. Sullivan spent the Trump presidency as a loyal Republican, voting in line with President Trump’s position 91.5 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.
That means Sullivan backed Trump’s view more often than high-profile conservatives like Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), Marco Rubio (FL), and Tom Cotton (AR).
Polls showed a competitive race between Sullivan and his opponent Al Gross, and this race was, in many ways, a microcosm of Alaska’s idiosyncratic politics. Gross was the Democratic Party’s nominee, but he identifies as an independent. He supports many Democratic positions, such as expanding Obamacare and preventing foreign governments from tampering in US elections. But he also describes himself as a “very strong proponent of the Second Amendment” and says that he supports “tight immigration policy.”
Though Alaska is a conservative state that typically elects Republicans to statewide offices, more moderate politicians sometimes rise to power by assembling unusual coalitions of Democrats, independents, and even the occasional Republican.
The Alaska state House, for example, is controlled by a multiparty coalition that chose state Rep. Bryce Edgmon as speaker. Edgmon is a former Democrat who declared himself independent as he took over leadership of a coalition that includes Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
Similarly, in 2010, Republicans nominated Joe Miller, an unusually extreme candidate who claimed the United States should “transition out of the Social Security arrangement,” for the United States Senate — snubbing incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the process. But Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate and defeated Miller.
Ultimately, however, Alaska’s voters opted for the more conservative option as their senator. After largely siding with Trump for most of his career in the Senate, Sullivan will get a second term.