There's a lingering sense in Alaska that the field of GOP Senate candidates isn't done growing yet. But we won't know for sure until after Labor Day at the very earliest, when the latest potential candidate returns from military deployment to Afghanistan.
Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan, a Republican, will spend the next six weeks in Afghanistan on military duty, the Associated Press reported Monday night. Sullivan is in the Marine Reserves and deployed to Central Command twice in the last nine years, according to his office biography. Sullivan's most recent assignment means he will be out of contact just as more speculation about his political prospects heats up.
An Anchorage Daily News column published over the weekend reported that "establishment Republicans" were lining up to offer Sullivan their financial support if he ran for Senate. At the beginning of the same week, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell -- the more establishment Republican of the two currently running against Democratic Sen. Mark Begich -- reported raising just over $180,000 in the first six months of the year.
Granted, Treadwell spent most of that time in "exploratory" mode rather than running an official campaign -- that haul doesn't necessarily represent the full measure of his fundraising potential -- and it's not clear what quarrel the Alaska GOP establishment would have with Treadwell. But there appears to be unsated appetite in the Republican ranks for another choice besides Treadwell and Joe Miller, who is running again after defeating Sen. Lisa Murkowski for the GOP nomination in a tea party-fueled 2010 bid.
However, they will have to wait until Sullivan returns to the state to find out whether he'll run. A GOP operative noted that Sullivan does not have a political team in place, so any progress toward his next move must wait until he's back. The operative also said that both Treadwell and Sullivan would be "strong candidates" against Begich. Sullivan was Alaska's attorney general (appointed by then-Gov. Sarah Palin) for a year and a half before Gov. Sean Parnell appointed him to his current post.