Sen. Sullivan receives cool welcome at Homer meet-and-greet

Senator Dan Sullivan at the Homer Spit on Friday, April 21, 2017. (KBBI photo)

Senator Dan Sullivan visited Homer for a meet-and-greet Friday (April 21) afternoon. It was one of the few opportunities the general public of Southcentral Alaska had to confront the senator during the two-week Congressional recess that just ended.

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The gathering was scheduled to take place in the Port and Harbor Conference Room on the Homer Spit, but so many people showed up they had to move the meeting outdoors.

Sen. Sullivan stood behind a small desk placed on the Port and Harbor lawn. He outlined his agenda and praised some of President Trump’s appointees.

“Wilbur Ross, in terms of Commerce; Zinke, Navy Seal who’s now the Secretary of the Interior; General Mattis; I think they’re gonna be really good,” Sullivan said.

As a Marine, Sullivan said he supports Trump’s promised increase in military spending.

“National defense is something I believe in,” Sullivan said. “President Obama cut our spending by almost 25 percent.”

Despite public notice of less than 24 hours, more than 70 locals were on hand to hear Sullivan’s remarks. Attendees sat and stood on the lawn and on the concrete Port and Harbor walkway. They often audibly disagreed with the senator.

When it came time for Q&A, former four-term Homer Mayor Jack Cushing spoke first.

“I’m from a Marine Corps family and I know you are taught not to blame the other guy,” Cushing began. “I personally thought Obama did a very good job, and I’d just like to encourage, particularly now that we’re not politicking anymore, the campaign’s over, it’s not the other guy’s fault. Let’s just make things work.”

Another person asked Sullivan about his support for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who doubts that humans are the primary cause of climate change.

“Well, I voted for Scott Pruitt… actually, enthusiastically voted for Scott Pruitt,” Sullivan said, receiving groans from the audience. “Ok, no. Come on, you guys.”

Don Lane of Homer, captain of the Predator, challenged Sullivan on his opposition to President Obama’s signature health insurance law. Lane called it “a game-changer” for his family.

“For many years as a commercial fisherman, health insurance wasn’t available at any price,” Lane said. “It just wasn’t available. And along came the Affordable Care Act, and it has been very important.”

Another attendee asked if Sullivan would pledge to support the continuation of the pieces of the Affordable Care Act that help families struggling with opioid addiction, in the event that Congress eventually repeals the ACA. Sullivan told the crowd he has been pushing for what he calls “Repeal and Repair” of Obamacare.

“I can tell you this. I’m not gonna say on Medicaid expansion where I commit, but I can tell you I’m going to continue to try to find additional resources for people struggling with this kind of addiction,” Sullivan said.

Senator Sullivan did single out one Obama appointee for praise: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy for his expertise on the opioid epidemic. Murthy was dismissed by the Trump administration that afternoon.

Sullivan’s office staff in Kenai said the senator stopped for a visit at the Ninilchik Senior Center on his trip back up the Peninsula.

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