The doctor running for U.S. Senate has decided to make Fairbanks the base for his campaign headquarters. It’s an area of the state where he is least well known and it is home turf for incumbent U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and his wife, Julie Fate-Sullivan, who was born and raised there.
Gross, from Juneau and Petersburg, already has a home in Petersburg and Anchorage, both of which he can use for regional headquarters.
He is beefing up his staff, too. He named Mindy O’Neall, a Fairbanks North Star Borough assembly member, as his campaign’s political coordinator.
That’s not to be mistaken for a campaign manager. Gross’ actual campaign manager David Keith, who has been on campaign payroll since July, is from out of state, but in his last job he developed a reputation for unprofessional conduct at the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Keith frequently used crude language and derogatory terms to describe women and gay people.
“Seven sources, including some former Bryce staffers, told the Journal Sentinel that Keith routinely made inappropriate sexual comments to and about female staffers and volunteers, used crude language and had angry outbursts — at times yelling and throwing things at his subordinates.
“In one incident last year, sources said Keith screamed at staff and threw a water bottle during a meeting after learning some campaign workers left before 9 p.m., which is the time Bryce campaign staffers were required to stay to make fundraising calls,” the newspaper wrote, adding that he used crude and derogatory words to describe women and gay people, and threatened to punish staff who didn’t obey his orders, sources said. Several recalled him telling them, ‘If you cross me, I’ll destroy your career.'”
Keith will meet his match in O’Neall, who is an avowed leftist and union organizer for Laborers’ Local 942. O’Neall is a registered Democrat and has enough Laborers behind her to keep Keith, who has been on the payroll since July, in line.
And Keith will also have to contend with the likes of Gross’ senior campaign advisor, former Sen. Johnny Ellis, an aging Democrat who knows where all the bodies are buried in the state. Ellis won’t take kindly to anti-gay slurs.
Gross said last year that his campaign staff would be unionized, but has made no further announcement about the union the three are in.
Gross, running on the issue of universal health care and whatever else pops into his mind, has the support of the Alaska Democratic Party. At the same time, he is trying hard to convince voters that he is independent, yet he will appear on the Democrats’ primary ballot and is funded with national Democrat money. He is opposed to building a wall on the southern border with Mexico, and blames Sen. Dan Sullivan for the drop in Alaska’s population over the past three years.
Candidate Gross, and his three staffers — Keith, O’Neall, and Ellis — are also politically opposed to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, as all four signed the recall petition. It appears Keith’s name wasn’t counted, however, because he wasn’t an Alaska voter.
The actual location for the Gross for Senate headquarters hasn’t been announced, but it appears to be shaping up as a lively place to work.