Sen. Sullivan gets grilled by left-leaning mob at town hall

Crowd gathers for Sen. Dan Sullivan’s town hall meeting. (Photo screen shot from Twitter account of former ADN editor Pat Dougherty.)


The auditorium at Bartlett High School was filled and the crowd lined the walls for Sen. Dan Sullivan’s Anchorage town hall meeting. Most of the more than 600 attendees were activists representing Planned Parenthood, teachers unions, the Alaska Democratic Party, and the Democratic Socialists of Anchorage. An opposition tracker was observed video recording the entire exchange.

They found no redeeming qualities in the senator who had come came before them at their demand. They showed him little respect, and many of them seemed to want to outdo each other with their shouted invectives.

The town hall was not going to be civil, that was evident from the start.

Left-leaning activists such as the Democratic Socialists did a good job getting their people to the town hall. Conservatives mainly stayed away.

But the Marine at the front of the room treated the audience with respect. Although taunted, he didn’t insult them when they yelled out that he was “racist” or a “liar.” He acted as though they were mature adults who could be reasoned with.

About 25 members of the audience were in his court, but by-and-large, this was a hostile town hall and played into the hands of the Indivisible movement that was born of frustrated Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders voters.

Attendees were given green and red cards to use to show their approval or disapproval of the senator’s remarks, which opened with about 25 minutes of comments.

When he wasn’t interrupted by boos, jeering laughter or taunting insults (“You’re not from here, go back to where you came from!”) Sullivan spoke to the importance of the American economy, national security, and especially about tackling the opioid crisis in Alaska.

The remaining hour was devoted to questions from the audience, which were not prescreened, but drawn at random.

Some questions pertained to health care. Sullivan made it clear that the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives still needs work, and the Senate’s version will be vastly different.

The crowd roared “Single payer!”

Sullivan tackled that issue head on: “I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the biggest amount of red cards for this, but single payer is not a workable option for me.”

If showing up was an act of courage, so were his instincts: The red cards went up.

Questioners from the audience frequently demanded a yes or no answer to their questions, and that demand was supported by the people in the stands. When asked if he supports keeping Medicaid expansion, Sullivan went into an explanation about the unique characteristics of the population covered by Obamacare Medicaid expansion: They are able-bodied adults. They are far over the poverty line. They do not have children. They have the ability to work.

Sullivan’s answer was met with even more verbal abuse.

One audience member asked the senator, in all sincerity, to tone down the rhetoric around health care. That person, however, didn’t give Sullivan the courtesy of allowing him to respond without ridicule.

Mr. Whitekeys asked the senator, a Marine standing in front of a nearly universally hostile audience, if he had the courage to vote in the best interest of Alaska. Whitekeys is a bar singer and comedian in Anchorage who makes a specialty of skewering politicians, particularly Republicans.

Red cards waved when Sullivan pointed out that the reduction in greenhouse emissions former President Barack Obama touted came primarily from natural gas development.

But perhaps the harshest reaction from the audience came from people who shouted down Sullivan for pointing out, correctly, that for many Alaskans, the biggest threat to the economy is the cost of health care, which was made worse by Obamacare.

Throughout the event, Sullivan was self-deprecating and deft at diffusing tensions, handling the situation with grace and dignity.

Sullivan’s staff may prefer to characterize the crowd as “spirited,” but this observer will stick with “raucous” and “disrespectful.”

At the conclusion, around 35 people rose to applaud him for his efforts. The activists were already moving to the exits to wave their signs at the departing motorists.

One observer was reminded of a James Madison quote in Federalist Paper 63, which said, “Such an institution (the Senate) may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions.”

The wisdom of the quote was proven throughout the evening; statesmanship was in short supply, but had a quorum of 1.


  1. Bravo Senator, I don’t often agree with you but admire your civil approach. This ‘progressive’ movement speaks for very few of us and are loud and obnoxious. Thank you for serving your country.

  2. I will point out that while premiums have risen since the ACA passed, a good deal of that is at the hands of Teoublicans like Marci Rubio sabotaging the bill by quietly removing premium stabilization programs built into the program. Congress promised to reimburse insurers for assuming additional risk for accepting pre-existing conditions, young adults up to 26, no lifetime cap, etc. they then reneged on their promise.

    Insurers have only two options from there: to either exit the market completely since it’s not profitable (we’re seeing some of that) or to raise premiums, lest you go broke. So Republicans share a major part of the blame for this. Anthony less is disingenuous at best.

    Repair the ACA. Fully fund the risk corridors promised. Remove state barriers. Strengthen the system. Or go single-payer like nearly every other democracized first world country.

    • Genius, Republicans had no input into the Communist Care Act and the, then, Democrat majority in both bodies could defeat any Republican amendment. Anyone who knows anything about group healthcare, a class of people that includes NOBODY on the Left, knows that you cannot have a legitimate risk pool that includes participants with pre-existing conditions; that isn’t health insurance, it is simply guaranteed healthcare. If we as a society decide that we are to cover pre-existing conditions we should stop pretending it is insurance and make it a welfare benefit like Medicaid so that those without pre-existing conditions can have insurance rates that are based on sound actuarial analysis.

      As to the slugs who are living in their parents’ basements or staying in school on borrowed money to avoid growing up while awaiting the coming of some communist savior like Bernie Sanders, they need to get off their asses and go to work. A 26 year old not too long ago was considered to be, and expected to be, an independent adult. But then if the productive people in society didn’t subsidize the slugs and parasites who would show up to yell and scream Leftist cant at town hall meetings?

      • Learn your history. The plan that became the Affordable Care Act was first brought to light by the heritage foundation in 1989, as a republican alternative to single payer. Fast forward 20 years, and suddenly it’s communist because a democrat president proposed it as a *gasp* alternative to single payer.
        Get out of here with your poor comprehension and utter lack of regard for history.

        • Bullshit! The ACA is like a union initial proposal in bargaining; it is a wishlist of everything every malcontent wants. In the real world, you get a dog’s breakfast proposal like that, you get with your principals, and you decide what parts of the dog’s breakfast you can live with and then counterpropose to the communists, excuse me, the union. Since the communists, excuse me, Democrats had both bodies and the Presidency, it didn’t get bargained so that people with brains had any input into it. And, stupid lefty, I suspect I comprehend one Helluva lot more about this stuff than you do. Lefty and smart are NOT synonyms.

  3. Thank you Senator Sullivan, for being a man of conviction, honor, and class even in the face of the perpetual tantrums thrown by those who only enjoy freedom to do so due to the service of you and others who have served our nation with honor. In this house, we are proud to have you as our US Senator and we thank you for your past and present service to America.

  4. I was there and don’t believe it should be called a mob. It was American citizens letting their Senator know their opinion, as we need to do! I am an independent and have tended to vote Republican pretty consistently in the past and am pretty sure I voted for Sullivan. However, I have been appalled at what I see in the Trump presidency, esp for health care, education and the whole Russian thing. And the lies…everyday, he lies. I don’t want that to become normal behavior. I have become newly politically active…for the other side, which I actually find rather shocking. I’m not a lefty Democrat. I did not/would not vote for Bernie. Imagine Fox news if a Democrat had all those Russian ties and also would not release taxes. Their hypocrisy is unbelievable to me. I read their website so I can read both sides of the issues, but I can’t watch them anymore.

    In my opinion, DeVos wouldn’t have been considered for hire in a normal type job interview because she lacked qualifications and her record in Detroit was not a success. I have a friend there, Republican with a kid in school, who say she made bad schools terrible! (She lobbied against her.) It’s clear that she got the job because of her money-actually bought the position. I don’t like that. I’m not against vouchers, but I believe rather than sweeping changes being made nationwide, there should be small areas where vouchers are tried and studied so that we can see what works and what doesn’t.

    I worked health care 35 years and with insurance companies for a few. I also had a husband with a blood cancer, transplant, etc. so I saw the system from both sides. We could hardly make a system that is more confusing, frustrating or that serves people more poorly than our current one. I am for improving/changing the ACA, but know the high risk pools didn’t work before (unaffordable) and I don’t support the states being in charge. We’re a mobile society these days. I spend time in 3 different states (sandwich generation/family needs) and dealing with car insurance with different state rules is a headache. Health insurance on an exchange would be a nightmare.

    All experiences with ACA haven’t been bad. My grandson had to have emergency surgery at 10 months and was fortunately covered by ACA. (His parents were in school, not slackers.) He now has what insurance companies will consider a preexisting condition for the rest of his life, though he is never expected to have issues again. Believe me, insurance companies look for any excuse to deny care. When they do, the patient is stuck paying inflated full prices, not a negotiated rate. That practice also needs to be addressed.

    Also, please remember that people who need to buy insurance in high risk pools have mostly paid premiums to insurance companies for MANY years while they were healthy. They get a devastating diagnosis at 40, 50 or 60 and lose their ability to work and also their insurance. Insurance companies will then get to charge them exorbitant rates in high risk pools, despite the money the patients gave the insurance companies thru the years when they had low health care bills. That’s a raw deal for the patient, but a good deal for insurers. Incidentally, I don’t believe are hurting if they can give their CEO a RAISE, not salary, of a million. (Michigan, I think).

    How can there be NO women on the working group??? That is a bad look and decision. Republicans wonder why women are becoming activists…that type decision is a clue!! McConnell needs to go if he insists on leaving out half the population.

    I responded to let you know that a lot of moderates like me, who previously supported Republicans with votes and sometimes money, were at the town hall. We are new activists, because we can’t support unqualified people buying cabinet positions, Trump’s daily lies and the lack of transparency in taxes and dealing with foreign countries. Don’t write us all off as left wing. A lot of us are not. You’re just making us choose difficult, but saner, options. I want a government that works and compromises and considers the average citizen, not just rich insurance companies and corporations. I don’t mind the latter making money, but I do mind them gouging us.

    I appreciate Senator Sullivan’s willingness to listen. I disagreed with him when he said a couple times that he thought most Alaskan’s agree with him rather than people in the crowd. I’m not sure that is true anymore. He won by 2% and the current political climate is making some of us in that 2% take a harder look at the issues.

    BTW, I don’t get involved in online debating. I just want you to think about those of us in the middle and why you might be losing us.

    • I call “Concern Troll.” I’m willing to bet good money you are not now nor have you ever been a Republican; remember that line from the old loyalty oaths the Left used to lie when they signed? I’ve dealt with lots of people who think of themselves as some sort of moderate, middle of the road person because they believe as all the people they know do, teachers are especially vulnerable to this delusion. You’re written off as left wing, whether you know it or not.

    • We can’t lose what we never had. You come across as more Leftist than conservative. Being a moderate is no virtue – it simply means you’re willing to compromise on things that require taking a stand.

  5. Thanks for your service Senator Sullivan, but my question is why are we even having this conversation? Why do we want the federal government involved in our health care system? It is not the job of our federal government to be involved in a lot of things they are now involve in, and now look where we are heading because of it. To quote one of the great Roman historians, Tacitus, The More Numerous The Laws, The More Corrupt The Government…If only he were with us today to comment on current events.

    • Larry Z, asking why the government is involved in health care is like asking why it provides a military: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare…” Note Welfare is capitalized.

      • Any discussion of how rules of Constitutional or statutory interpretation say that perambulatory languages is modified and limited by other language in the document is lost on a mindless lefty, so no real discussion is worth it. Please see “enumerated powers.” You’ll never understand why we on the right wouldn’t let Comrade Obama have his USSC justice, but it has something to do with enumerated powers.

  6. Thank you Senator Sullivan for taking the high road in responding with class and honor. The petulant rude behaviour by the majority of the attendees is a pathetic model for our young people. The hypocrisy lived out by these liberal haters is stunning; if they didn’t have double standards they would have no standards at all.

    • My sentiments exactly Welfare does not mean that the government is resigned to taking care of individual citizens.

  7. Quite a lot of activist progressives here in town…and guess what? They either are servers, Govt. employees, work in med/health or in education (note the last two are in many cases also Govt.). Imagine that.
    They’ve been waiting for some time to blather-bomb Sen Sullivan and it finally happened for them. I hope they feel better, with their ‘up-twinkley’ colored cards…
    How progressive…

    • You shouldn’t paint gov workers with such a broad brush, there are a lot of us that don’t agree with the liberal/communist agenda and those clowns that tried to belittle Senator Sullivan. Just wanted to point that out.

  8. Another member of the FSA. Where is my free helth care? My free house? Cell phone? Latti? Where does it end? Oh thats right. Its a human right! Myself, i just want .gov the hell out of my way. Pathetic humans

  9. Wonderful that the Senator kept his cool against that lousy mob, as they would have taped it and used it against him in the leftist media over and over again.
    Some of these progressives and Antifa people behave like the Brownshirts of the 3rd Reich, with their violence towards anybody who disagrees with them. I fear sooner or later we will see that kind here in Alaska as well, not just in Berkeley, CA.
    Its just sad that those that claimed to fight fascism have deteriorated into the least tolerant folks you’ll see anywhere in western civilization today. The vilification of the dissenters from progressive politics has reached unprecedented, disgusting levels.

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