Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan (R) told a local Chamber of Commerce Wednesday that if he were leading the state, he'd fight for Alaska's rights, including seizing land controlled by the federal government to develop oil production, radio station KRBD reported. Sullivan's remarks were widely circulated on Tuesday.
“One of the things I’ve suggested, too, is that if I was governor today, I’d probably invade ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge],” Sullivan said. “What are they going to do, shoot you? Well, they might. But martyrdom goes a long way sometimes.”
Whether to allow drilling in ANWR has been a politically divisive issue for decades. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has been a staunch advocate for oil and gas exploration in the refuge -- remember "drill, baby, drill?" -- while the Obama administration wants to keep the land off-limits to drilling.
Sullivan's comments are reminiscent of Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, who rallied thousands of supporters to his side in a showdown with the federal Bureau of Land Management over his unpaid grazing fees. Like Bundy, Sullivan also caught flak earlier this month for racially charged comments he made that referred to union dues as a form of "economic slavery." The lieutenant gubernatorial hopeful issued a statement saying he was sorry for any offense after the Anchorage chapter of the NAACP demanded an apology for those comments.