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US ELECTIONS: Pro-drilling Alaska senator holds lead before absentee votes counted


Sullivan pushed to expand drilling in first term

Urged Trump to block flood of Saudi crude imports

Democrat challenger Gross pushed for climate policy

Washington — US Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican-Alaska, held a strong lead in early election results Nov. 4, but the race's final outcome will not be known until the state starts counting absentee ballots next week.

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Sullivan had 63% of votes with 45% reporting, compared with Democratic challenger Al Gross' 32%, according to The Associated Press.

In his first term, Sullivan pushed to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, which the Trump administration approved in August, setting the stage for a possible lease sale by December.

In April, Sullivan urged the Trump administration to retaliate against Saudi Arabia for sending a flood of crude to the US at the height of Riyadh's oil price war with Russia, when US producers were scrambling to find storage for their own supplies.

Gross campaigned on addressing climate change and creating clean energy jobs to transition from the state's dependence on fossil fuel revenues.