(JTA) – Al Gross, the Jewish Alaska physician running to defeat incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, raised an eye-popping $9.1 million in the last quarter, funds fueled in part by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Gross, who is running as an Independent but has been endorsed by Democrats, has been neck and neck with Sullivan in polls since late August in what is usually a solidly Republican state, making the infusion of funds especially potent. The fundraising total is astonishing in Alaska’s small media market; by way of comparison, the Anchorage Daily News reported recently that the Democrat Sullivan ousted in 2014, Mark Begich, raised less than $9 million over the two years ahead of the election. The Sullivan campaign did not release its quarterly figures, except to say that Gross had out-raised them.
The Gross campaign said donations surged after Justice Ginsburg died last month. Democrats were furious that Senate Republicans are rushing to replace her before the presidential election. Gross, whose father Avrum was once the state’s attorney general, was already mounting a formidable challenge against Sullivan, who has allied himself closely with President Donald Trump. Gross’ policy focus is healthcare reform. His character focus is his upbringing as an Alaskan, born just after an avalanche, and a TV ad notes that “he killed a grizzly bear in self-defense.” Also, he prospected for gold. The Anchorage Daily News confirmed the bear-killing story, and in the process discovered that a conservative opposition research outfit sought to confirm it as well.
Main Photo: Al Gross in an undated campaign photo.