Alaska Senate Race: Dan Sullivan
Alaska's Senate race wasn't on anybody's list of competitive races at the beginning of the year. First-term Republican Senator Dan Sullivan, who previously served as the state's Attorney General and Commissioner of Natural Resources, is well-liked and effective. He gets a big share of the credit for opening up a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration - a state priority that had been stymied for decades.
But COVID hit the state's critical tourism and oil industries hard. And Democrats warmed to the candidate challenging Sullivan, a Jewish doctor named Al Gross. Gross, whose father was once the state's Attorney General, is officially running as an independent. But it's a distinction without much of a difference, since he says he'll caucus with the Democrats in the Senate if elected.
Gross has raised serious money from Democrat donors in the Lower 48 who love the idea of picking off a seat in such a typically Republican state and supplemented those funds with money of his own. Now Sullivan has a fight on his hands.
To win, Sullivan will need to impress upon Alaska voters that a vote for "independent" Gross is a vote to empower national Democrats who want to reverse the progress the state has made while he's been Senator. As regards Jewish voters - the so-called "Frozen Chosen" - and others who support Israel, Sullivan can point to his strong opposition to the Obama-Biden Iran nuclear deal and the fact that Gross has been endorsed by J Street. Gross may beat expectations, but don't bet against Dan Sullivan.