A potential challenger has emerged to run against Republican U.S Senator Dan Sullivan next year. Dr. Al Gross, a 57-year-old orthopedic surgeon, is announcing his possible interest in running as an independent this week.
“I don’t think that Dan Sullivan’s representing the people of Alaska,” Gross said in an interview Monday. “I don’t think he’s addressing the issues that are important to the state, the economy. He’s most of all not standing up to fix our broken health care system but on many other levels I feel like he’s not being representative of the state and he’s not helping fix the problem which is biggest in the state, which is our economy, which has been in recession for years and years and we need to break out of that.”
Gross is the son of the late Avrum Gross, Alaska’s attorney general under Gov. Jay Hammond in the 1970s. He was born and raised in Juneau. He’s also lived in Petersburg and now Anchorage.
He and his wife, Monica, have four grown children. He has practiced as an orthopedic surgeon in Juneau and Petersburg since 1994. He also finished a master’s degree in public health care systems in 2015. During the summer he gillnets for salmon in Southeast Alaska.
Gross plans to make a formal announcement of launching an exploratory committee on Tuesday in Petersburg. After that he’ll tour the state.
“I want to listen to Alaskans and listen to the problems that they face and the solutions that they propose,” Gross said. “And then after that tour after, which I expect will be two or three months, I’ll make a final decision as to whether or not to file for office.”
Gross was last in the public eye when he supported two statewide ballot initiatives related to expanding health coverage. Both of the 2017 initiatives never got past the signature-gathering phase.
Incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan was elected in 2014, defeating Democratic Senator Mark Begich. Sullivan’s office did not respond Monday to a request for comment.
Gross’ campaign event is at the parking lot for the Salty Pantry and Kito’s Kave in Petersburg from 5-6 p.m. Tuesday, May 14. His website is expected up this week.