Alaska’s first full-scale nonpartisan ranked choice election has yielded some interesting trends, including in some cases a likely clear winner as additional rounds of votes are counted.
Locally, both the State Senate and House races are showing a candidate with a wide margin of votes.
For Senate District R, Republican Click Bishop appears to have won with 56.31 percent of the vote over Republication challenger Elijah Verhagen with 28.01 percent of the vote.
Bishop, who has served in the state legislature 2013, brought his war chest and long-term legislative history to the campaign trail. Bishop previously served as the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Verhagen, who served as a legislative page for numerous years ran on a platform of offering a choice to district voters.
Republican Mike Cronk from Tok has handily taken House District 36 with 65.38 percent of the vote. His closes competitor, Democrat Angela Fowler has garnered 33.98 percent of the vote.
The only other race for local voters which appears to have a clear winner is the race for Governor. Republican Mike Dunleavy is likely to retain his position as governor with 52.04 percent of the vote. Democrat Les Gara and nonparty affiliated Bill Walker with 23.11 and 20.09 percent of the vote respectively, are unlikely to be able to overcome Dunleavy’s lead with 96 percent of precincts reporting.
In the event Dunleavy is unable to retain a majority, the second round of the ranked choice voting could possibly yield a clear winner with the fourth-place contender, Charlie Pierce having less than five percent of the vote cast.
Pierce’s running mate, Edie Grunwald, pulled from the election and threw her support behind Dunleavy after Pierce’s former executive assistant sued him for sexual harassment, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough publicly confirmed there were “credible” workplace harassment claims made against Pierce.
It’s unclear how Dunleavy will do in a third round on the ranked choice system depending on who the final challenger is, Gara or Walker, but it is unlikely that all of the votes from the eliminated candidate would go to the second-place candidate thus assuring a win for Dunleavy.
The race for U.S. Representative is up for grabs with incumbent Democrat Mary Peltola having 47.13 percent of the vote and Republicans Nick Begich and Sarah Palin splitting most of the remaining votes with 24.27 and 26.62 percent each, respectively. Libertarian Chris Bye is likely to have little impact on a second round of vote counting with less than two percent of the vote.
As of the 2:22 a.m. results Wednesday morning, Begich and Palin’s combined votes represent a slight majority of the votes cast with 96 percent of precincts reporting leaving the race in anyone’s hands if it goes to a third round as it likely will.
The U.S. Senate race is close between incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski with 42.69 percent and Republican Challenger Kelly Tshibaka with 44.36 percent with 96 percent of the precincts reporting.
The second-round count will not create a clear winner as Republican Buzz Kelley has less than three percent of the vote. A third round will split Democrat Patricia Chesbro’s votes between Murkoswki and Tshibaka. Murkoswki’s opponent laden charges that she is too liberal for Alaska may work in Murkoswki’s favor. Chesbro has 9.54 percent of the vote.
The vote for a Constitutional Convention failed with 69.84 percent of the votes counted thus far against the call for a convention with 96 percent of precincts reporting.
All of the judicial votes are in favor of retention of the sitting judge.
All vote counts are preliminary and from only the first round of rank choice voting.