Discover more from The Alaska Memo by Matt Buxton
Murkowski takes lead in latest results/AK House nears the numbers for bipartisan coalition
With the Senate already likely to organize around a moderate bipartisan coalition, it probably goes a long way to explain Dunleavy’s moderate overtures in recent days.
Happy Football Sunday, Alaska!
In this edition: The latest release of elections results has cemented several races, including the three statewide races at the top of the ticket. On the legislative front, it looks like Rep. Neal Foster has averted an upset and a couple candidates could be edging into upset territory, putting the chances of an All Bipartisan Legislature in the realm of possibilities.
Congratulations to: UAA Women’s Basketball for winning the Great Alaska Shootout!
Next time: Let’s look at the legislative races where Wednesday’s ranked-choice voting tabulation will decide things.
Current mood: 🏆
Murkowski takes lead in latest results, all but ensuring her victory over far-right challenger
Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski took an outright lead in the race for U.S. Senate when the latest round of results was released Friday night, putting Alaska’s moderate senior senator 1,658 votes ahead of far-right Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka.
The results all but cement Murkowski’s victory, who came into the election the odds-on favorite but had lagged behind Tshibaka in first-place votes since election night. She now leads the Trump-endorsed Tshibaka 43.32-42.68.
Now, Murkowski will head into Wednesday’s ranked-choice voting tabulation with a lead and the expectation that she’ll receive a large portion of the 20% of the vote that went to Democrat Pat Chesbro. Tshibaka doesn’t have a similar pool of votes to count on with Republican Buzz Kelley—who suspended his campaign and endorsed Tshibaka—holds just 2.88% of the vote.
Fewer than 2,000 ballots remain to be counted, according to the latest statistics.
U.S. House Rep. Mary Peltola doesn’t have a candidate to her left that she can bank on, but she’s not likely to need one with a vote share that currently sits at 48.68%. She’ll need just a small share of the votes of the third- and fourth-place finishers to secure the outright majority needed to win a full term in the seat.
Meanwhile, it looks like Gov. Mike Dunleavy—who’s been busy projecting a more moderate and competent second term—will avoid the RCV tabulation altogether with an outright majority (the tabulation still happens, technically, but it’s not going to knock him out of first place). His vote total has steadily dropped since election day but it currently sits at 50.34% of the vote.
The Midnight Sun Memo by Matt Buxton is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
House nears the numbers for bipartisan coalition
The results didn’t make for any lead changes in the legislative races, but there have been a few significant developments on that front. Here’s the highlights:
Democratic Nome Rep. Neal Foster looks to have avoided a surprise upset against Alaskan Independence Party Tyler Ivanoff. Foster’s lead in the race has dwindled into the singe digits through the vote counting, but the latest round—which leaves very few ballots left to count—has put Foster up by 108 votes.
Democratic candidate Forrest Dunbar has taken an outright majority in his race for Alaska Senate in Anchorage. The Anchorage assemblymember and mayoral runner-up has 50.02% of the vote, putting him ahead of Democratic Rep. Geran Tarr (16.74%) and Republican Andrew Satterfield (32.7%).
It looks like Republican Stanley Wright has staved off a late comeback from Democrat Ted Eischeid in the race for the northern East Anchorage House seat. While Democrat Donna Mears overtook the Republican for the southern East Anchorage House Seat in the later counts, it looks like there aren’t enough votes for Eischeid to do the same. With just 67 votes separating the two, nearly all of the uncounted 79 ballots would have to go Eischeid’s way.
Democrat Denny Wells is in a strong spot to pull off the upset over Republican Rep. Tom McKay in the traditionally conservative South Anchorage. Wells has 46.61% of the vote to the 38.82% of McKay and the 14.08% held by Republican Dave Eibeck. While adding the raw vote totals of McKay and Eibeck together would give McKay the majority on RCV tabulation day, we know that it’s not likely to be nearly that tidy. Just how much they align, though, is an open question.
The same goes for nonpartisan candidate Walter Featherly, who leads in a three-way race for another South Anchorage House seat. Featherly has 45.45% of the vote to the 38.67% held by Republican Julie Coulombe and the 15.36% held by Republican Ross Bieling.
Why it matters: The apparent victories of Foster and Mears put the coalition-friendly legislators on the cusp of taking an outright majority in the House, assuming one of the close races that’ll be decided by ranked-choice voting goes as expected (we’ll talk about that more next time). A victory from Wells or Featherly (or a long-shot victory by Eischeid) would give them 21 by my count. With the Senate already likely to organize around a moderate bipartisan coalition, it probably goes a long way to explain Dunleavy’s moderate overtures in recent days.