Sullivan stands up for his support for ‘Stand Your Ground’

An ad that Senate candidate Dan Sullivan recently released making the claim that he “successfully fought to protect our Second Amendment rights and pass Stand Your Ground,” is under fire by Sullivan’s opposition and now by the fact checking group Politifact, which has fact-checked a handful of ads so far in the Alaska Senate race. Politifact is a project operated by the Tampa Bay Times and its verdict on whether or not an ad is true or false carries weight.

Politifact said Sullivan’s ‘stand your ground’ claim was “false.” 

“We found that evidence of Sullivan’s support for ‘stand your ground’ is dubious at best,” Politifact wrote.

For its part, the Sullivan campaign calls Politifact’s false claim false,.

“Dan supported Stand Your Ground then, he supports it now,”  Mike Anderson, Sullivan’s spokesperson said.

Let’s summarize: A bill was introduced by Rep. Mark Neuman in the 2009-10 legislative session when Sullivan was the attorney general. The bill broadened the state’s self defense laws by saying that someone who is in danger doesn’t have a “duty to retreat” from a place that they have a legal right to be in. Shortly after it was introduced, an assistant AG wrote a letter--which was leaked to the media, including to this reporter, without Sullivan’s knowledge or consent—claiming that the bill was dangerous.

It had Sullivan’s name on it, which is where the accusations that he doesn’t support ‘stand your ground’ have originated. Assistant Attorney General John Skidmore signed the letter, which is standard practice in the Department.

“In regards to the Department of Law letter in question, Dan didn’t write the letter, he did not see it before it went out, nor does he agree with the attorney who wrote it,,” Anderson, said.

“When you’re in charge of a large department within state government, memos and letters are constantly going out on your letterhead and you don’t always see them all,” Anderson said. “Dan takes responsibility for the actions of his staff, but he didn’t sign off on this letter and it doesn’t represent his views- then or now.”

Neuman, contacted on Wednesday, said that he worked with the Department of Law in 2010 to amend the bill to address some of the concerns in it.  Sullivan was attorney general until December 2010, when he  then became Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources. Neuman didn’t work directly with Sullivan, but he assumed that Sullivan was kept abreast of the discussions.

In any case, Neuman said that the department’s opposition was justified, and eventually they got to a place where he got the department’s support.

The version that Neuman and the department came up with in 2010 was one that passed the House the next year with the support of the Department of Law, but it died in the Senate, which was organized around a bipartisan majority and was focused almost exclusively on oil tax issues. The coalition had a tacit agreement to put off controversial bills until the oil tax bill was hammered out.

The very same bill that Neuman worked on with the Department of Law, when Sullivan was AG, was passed in 2013.

“Regardless of that misguided letter, what’s important is that the Department of Law worked with Rep. Neuman to craft a Stand Your Ground law that was simpler and clearer,” Anderson said.

For his part, Neuman is puzzled. “Quite frankly, I don’t understand why it’s getting so blown out of proportion,” Neuman said. “We refined the bill. We made it a better bill. Everyone’s happy with it.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at


9 thoughts on “Sullivan stands up for his support for ‘Stand Your Ground’

  1. Chris Lloyd

    “And Mr. Lloyd, how do you know that Dan Sullivan doesn’t carry a concealed gun?”

    It is a known fact in some circles that L48 Dan owns exactly ZERO firearms. His excuse overheard several years ago when he was on the set of that Jon Voight ‘Beyond’ movie was that he had young children at home. To me that’s a good reason to have more guns at home, but hey, I’m from Alaska.

  2. Lance Roberts

    “which was organized around a bipartisan majority and was focused almost exclusively on oil tax issues”

    Funny, the reason we had to replace the bipartisan coalition is because they couldn’t get oil tax reform complete, even with all of them recognizing the need to improve our oil tax situation. All their focus didn’t produce any results.

  3. John Smith

    If Dan Sullivan is to be criticized for a letter that went out from DOL pointing out issues with the proposed legislation, shouldn’t he also be given the same amount of praise for working with the legislature to improve the proposed law in order for it to pass?

    You can’t have it both ways.

  4. Jon K

    And if he was serious about the 1st Amendment ‘s right to free exercise of religion he would have a bible right next to that gun.

  5. Garand Fellow

    This is a great article in that it brings out the facts. DOL has a bunch of left-wing subordinate attorneys who wait (and wait and wait) in the wings for a Democrat to be elected so they can honestly show themselves. The record on the first Alaska concealed carry bill, originated by Representative Jeannette James, and the various subsequent improvements right through to our current concealed carry law, as carried by Representative Eric Croft (allowing concealed carry without any permit) shows the left-wing wingnut AAG’s going crazy at the inception of each bill. Afghan Dan is pro-gun, pro concealed carry, and pro stand your ground.

    By the way, each time a pro-gun bill is introduced these left-wing AAG’s come to various legislative committees and say the world will end if the legislation becomes law. What they don’t say, and cannot say of course, is that the governor will veto the legislation. Eventually the legislation becomes law (yes, sometimes with improvements as usually occurs during the process of legislative hearings, exactly as Rep. Neuman stated here) and the law actually works to protect law-abiding, everyday Alaskans. And thank you Rep. Neuman for this law and for all your hard work.

    And Mr. Lloyd, how do you know that Dan Sullivan doesn’t carry a concealed gun?

  6. Brandon Wall

    Amanda – thanks for putting out the real story on this and especially for putting in the effort to get Neuman’s take. It is important that the Dept of Law give honest and blunt feedback to legislators on legislation and it is the legislator’s choice whether to heed that advice or not. There are a lot of things that I don’t like about about Sullivan but it’s good to hear that none of the candidates have a 2nd Amendment blemish.

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