Tag Archives: Gov. Mike Dunleavy

Alaska: Peltola, Palin Advance; Murkowski, Tshibaka to General; Wyoming Rep. Cheney Loses Big

By Jim Ellis — August 17, 2022

Primary Results

Former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) is leading the Alaska special election race to fill the state’s at-large congressional district.

Alaska: Peltola, Palin Advance; Murkowski, Tshibaka to General — With just under 70 percent of the voting tabulated, and as expected by consolidating the smaller Democratic vote, former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) is leading the special election race to fill the state’s at-large congressional district left vacant when veteran Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon) passed away in March.

Former governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin (R) holds a 5,266 vote lead over Nick Begich III (R) for the all-important second place position. Under Alaska’s new voting procedure, ballots postmarked yesterday have until Aug. 31 to reach the county clerk’s office and be tabulated. The extra time is important for the outlying rural areas to be included.

Second position is so important because the third-place finisher in this electoral situation, at this point that being Begich, will be eliminated and the Ranked Choice Voting process will begin. If Begich is eliminated, the ballots listing him as the first choice will be found and the second choice votes from only these ballots will be added to the process. The eventual winner will immediately be sworn into the House. All three of the aforementioned candidates also advanced into the regular general election.

Alaska republican Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka

Turning to the US Senate race, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), running for a fourth full term, is first at this point in the counting process with 43.7 percent of the vote among 19 jungle primary candidates, and just ahead of former Alaska Director of Administration Kelly Tshibaka (R), who former President Trump long ago endorsed. Tshibaka’s current vote percentage is 40.4. It appears Democrat Patricia Chesbro (6.2 percent) is well-positioned to take a distant third place; vying for the fourth and final position are Republicans Buzz Kelley and Pat Nolin.

In the governor’s race, incumbent Mike Dunleavy (R) looks to have secured first position with 41.7 percent of the jungle primary vote among 10 candidates. Also clinching general election ballot slots are former state Rep. Les Gara (D) with 22.0 percent of the vote, and ex-Gov. Bill Walker (I) who so far has posted a close 21.9 percent. The final general election qualifying position appears undecided between two Republicans, Charlie Pierce and Christopher Kurka.

At-Large Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (R)

Wyoming: As Expected, Rep. Cheney Loses Big — Early in the counting process, it was clear that At-Large Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson) would lose her US House seat to attorney Harriet Hageman, the candidate former President Donald Trump supported early.

The vote count was a landslide in favor of Hageman — 66-29 percent — who ran a measured campaign. Her theme was concentrating on serving the constituency while highlighting that Rep. Cheney used the position to fulfill her own political goals.

Incumbent Sen. Cheney carried only her home county of Teton, which houses the cities of Jackson and Jackson Hole, and southeastern Albany County; Hagman topped the vote totals in the state’s other 21 counties. Republican turnout overwhelmed that of the Democrats, 170,409 to just 7,233 ballots cast, suggesting that a large number of the latter party’s members did what Cheney asked them to do and crossed over to vote for her in the Republican primary.

The GOP turnout was up 58.7 percent compared to 2020, while Democratic participation was down 30.7 percent, providing more evidence that a significant number of Democrats voted in the Republican primary. Two years ago, Cheney won a contested Republican primary with 73.5 percent of the vote, and scored a 68.6 percent win in the general election.

Hageman will now face the new Democratic nominee, Native American community activist Lynette Grey Bull, the 2020 party standard bearer against Cheney. Hageman now becomes the prohibitive favorite to win the general election.

Senate

New Hampshire: Candidate Staked to Big Lead — St. Anselm’s College released the results of their quarterly poll of Granite State voters, this one taken a month before the state’s late primary election. This New Hampshire sampling universe (Aug. 9-11; 1,898 registered New Hamshire voters; 900 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters; live interview), as have those from two other St. Anselm’s 2022 polls, sees President Biden with an upside-down job approval rating. Biden registers 42:57 percent favorable to unfavorable status.

Republicans hold a three-point lead on the generic party vote questions, and 68 percent of the respondents believe the country is on the wrong track versus just 21 percent who believe America is headed in the right direction. Democrats have a clear advantage on the abortion issue by a 49-23 percent margin.

In the Senate GOP primary, retired general and 2020 Senate candidate Don Bolduc holds a significant 32-16-4-4 percent advantage over state Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem), former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, and investor Bruce Fenton, respectively.

House

NH-1: 2020 Nominee Mowers Leading in New Poll — The co/efficient survey research firm tested the upcoming Sept. 13 Republican congressional field in the state’s swing 1st District. New Hampshire’s eastern CD has defeated more incumbents than any seat in the country since the 2004 election.

In the Republican primary where candidates hope to challenge Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) in the general election, the survey (Aug. 13-14; 829 likely NH-1 Republican primary voters; live interview & text) projects 2020 nominee Matt Mowers to be leading the field with 31 percent support. Former Trump White House media aide Karoline Leavitt 16 percent, state Rep. Tim Baxter (R-Portsmouth) nine percent, and former news reporter and wife of ex-Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R), Gail Huff Brown, at eight percent preference. This district electorate will once again witness a highly competitive general election.

Primaries: Alaska Preview, Hawaii Wrapup; Oklahoma Special Election

By Jim Ellis — August 16, 2022

Primaries

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska — The long-awaited Alaska primary and special House election will be decided today, and the state’s unique top-four qualifying primary system will be put to its second test.

In the US Senate race, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is running for a fourth full term after being appointed to the seat in 2002 when her father, former Sen. Frank Murkowski (R), was elected governor.

The new top-four system virtually guarantees that the senator will advance into the general election, thus negating the potential of her again losing a partisan Republican primary as she did in 2010. In that year, she was able to win the general election after launching a write-in bid as an Independent.

This time, she faces another Republican challenger, one with former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Kelly Tshibaka, the former Alaska Director of Administration and Trump-supported candidate, is also well positioned to advance into the general election and may well have been a serious threat to the Senator in a traditional Republican primary.

A total of 19 candidates are on the Senate ballot: eight Republicans, three Democrats, and eight minor party and independent candidates. Of the three Democrats, two — ex-Seward Mayor Edgar Blatchford and former state Senate nominee Pat Chesbro — have previously won campaigns. It is probable that one of these two will also qualify for the general election simply because one will likely attract enough Democratic votes to place either third or fourth.

As is usually the case, polling is sparse in Alaska and we see no late breaking data. This is likely due to the large number of candidates and that a total of four will advance, thus making the primary vote less significant. In the field of four general election candidates, the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system will be used. Voters will assign a priority of 1-4 for the listed candidates. Should no one reach 50 percent, the last-place finisher is eliminated and the process continues until one candidate reaches majority support.

The RCV system is in effect today and will produce a winner among the three finalists in the US House special election campaign to succeed the late at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon).

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, now running for US House Representative

There are three finalists in this race because the original third place finisher, Independent Al Gross, the 2020 Democratic US Senate nominee, dropped out of the race after qualifying. This left 2008 vice presidential nominee and ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican Party of Alaska officially endorsed contender Nick Begich III, whose grandfather, the late Nick Begich, Sr. (D), was the congressman prior to Rep. Young, and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D).

It is likely that Peltola will finish first, consolidating the Democratic vote, but falling well short of majority support. Thus, the RCV system would then swing into action. The key position will be second, and all indications suggest that Palin and Begich are in a tight battle to avoid elimination. It is then probable that the surviving Republican will defeat Peltola in the second round.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is also on the ballot running for a second term. It is expected that Dunleavy, former Gov. Bill Walker (I), and ex-state Rep. Les Gara (D) will secure three of the four available general election ballot positions.

It will be an interesting night in Alaska, but results won’t likely be clear until well into Wednesday considering the significant time change and the counting delays often seen in the Last Frontier when tabulating votes from the remote rural areas.

Hawaii — Hawaii held its statewide primary Saturday, and the results produced no surprises.  In the defining Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a physician, easily defeated former Aloha State first lady Vicky Cayetano and US Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) in a landslide 64-21-14 percent, respectively.  Green now becomes the prohibitive favorite to defeat Republican nominee, former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, who scored a majority victory in the GOP primary.

In the open 2nd House District race, former state Sen. Jill Tokuda recorded a 59-25 percent victory over state Rep. Patrick Branco (D-Kailua) and four others.  She now becomes a lock to replace Rep. Kahele who risked his safe House seat for his long shot, and now proven unsuccessful, run for governor.  The Republican primary winner, with 83 percent of the vote, is 2020 GOP congressional nominee Joe Akana.  Two years ago, he lost to Kahele 58-28 percent in the general election, and is likely headed to a similar fate later this year.

Sen. Brian Schatz was an overwhelming winner in his Democratic primary, notching 94 percent of his party’s vote.  He will face state Rep. Bob McDermott (R-Ewa), who won the Republican primary with a 41 percent plurality over four opponents.

Rep. Ed Case (D-Kaneohe) also easily won renomination in his 1st District Democratic primary, with an 84-16 percent landslide over progressive left challenger Sergio Alcubilla.

Democratic turnout overwhelmed that of Republicans.  With ancillary counting remaining, a total of 218,523 individuals voted in the Democratic primary versus just 59,006 who chose the Republican contests.

Senate

Oklahoma Special: Conflicting Polls, Same Leader — The Oklahoma Republican runoff election to advance into the November special election to replace resigning Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) will be decided on Aug. 23. We now see two recently released surveys, both projecting US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) leading former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon but by varying degrees.

The most recent, from Battleground Connect (July 31-Aug. 1; 800 likely Oklahoma Republican special runoff voters; live interview) sees Rep. Mullin leading Shannon, 46-38 percent. Both men are viewed favorably. Rep. Mullin sports a 62:23 percent favorable ratio, while Shannon scores 48:15 percent, though fewer respondents know him well enough to form an opinion.

The Sooner Poll conducted for News Channel 9 in Oklahoma City. The sampling period was longer and the sample size smaller than Battleground Connect’s (July 25-Aug. 1; 383 likely Oklahoma Republican special runoff voters; live interview) and it produced an overwhelming advantage for Rep. Mullin, 63-35 percent. The Republican runoff winner will be favored to defeat former US Rep. Kendra Horn, who is the official Democratic Party nominee, in the November special general election.

Alaska Special Election Set

By Jim Ellis

Alaska’s At-Large Congressman, the late Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon)

March 24, 2022 — Decisions have been made about the special election calendar to replace the late at-large Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon).

Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) has set June 11 as the special primary election day, and the vote will be conducted through the mail. Alaska’s new top-four jungle primary system will be in play, meaning that four competitors will advance into the special general election, regardless of party affiliation.

The special general will be run concurrently with the Aug. 16 regular primary election, meaning candidates will be placed separately on the ballot for both the special election and the regular full term.

If no candidate receives majority support in the Aug. 16 special election, the Ranked Choice Voting System will take effect. Voters would rank their choices from first to four just for the special general. Since no one would have received 50 percent, the last-place finisher is eliminated and the ballots that ranked the last place finisher as their first choice are located, and only their second choices are then added to the total. This process continues until one of the candidates reaches 50 percent.

This means that voters will rank the four finalists for the special general and then vote for one of the regular primary candidates for the Nov. 8 election during the same voting process on Aug. 16, or the date on which they choose to vote early.

Since Alaska’s at-large House seat has not been open since the 1973 special election when Rep. Young was originally elected, a large special election field will form. Already, Nick Begich III, grandson of Rep. Young’s first Democratic opponent back in 1972, then-Congressman Nick Begich (D) who perished in a plane crash shortly before the regular general election, is in the field but as a Republican. He had announced against Young in the Republican primary before the congressman’s death.

Also saying he will run both in the special and regular elections, as did Begich, is Anchorage City Assemblyman Chris Constant (D).

The Democratic/Independent 2020 US Senate nominee who raised and spent over $19.5 million to unsuccessfully challenge GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan, surgeon Al Gross, publicly said that he, too, plans to enter the open seat campaign. Dr. Gross begins the race with a reported $200,000 (approximate) in remaining campaign funds, obviously a big advantage.

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Alaska Rep. Young’s Passing Yields Chaotic Special Election Process

By Jim Ellis

Alaska’s At-Large Congressman, the late Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon)

March 22, 2022 — On Friday, the Dean of the House of Representatives, Alaska’s At-Large Congressman Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), passed away in an airplane flying back to his home state. The congressman, who was first elected in a 1973 special election, served in the House for 49 consecutive years, or just 14 years less than the time Alaska has been a state.

The congressman’s full and colorful national political career even began in an unusual way. As a sitting state legislator, he ran for Congress in 1972, opposite at-large Rep. Nick Begich (D). Less than a month before the election, however, Rep. Begich and then House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-LA) went down in a plane crash on a tour through the Last Frontier. With Boggs legally declared as missing, though it was imminently clear that all perished in the crash, he still defeated Young in the 1972 regular election.

Upon certification of Rep. Begich’s death, Don Young then won the succeeding special election in early 1973. He would never lose again. Coming full circle, Rep. Young’s 2022 opponent would likely have been Nick Begich III (D), the late congressman’s grandson.

While best wishes and remembrances for and about the congressional icon are coming from throughout the country, a potentially chaotic replacement process lies before the state’s governor to direct, and then for those who choose to become candidates.

Under Alaska law, a special election must be conducted to fill an electoral vacancy no less than 60 and no more than 90 days after the position is officially vacated. In this case, Young passed away on March 18. Therefore, at least the initial election must occur during the period between May 17 and June 16.

Because the state is changing its election procedure, much is unclear. An Alaska Department of Law spokesperson stated in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News that the agency personnel will review the applying statutes and prepare an advisory report for Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R).

In 2020, Alaska voters passed an initiative to change the state’s primary system. Thus, the state will now use a jungle primary format. Three other states, California, Louisiana, and Washington have jungle primaries, but in all of those places the top two finishers advance into the general election or post-election runoff. Louisiana holds its jungle primary concurrently with the regular general election so that a leading candidate with a percentage greater than 50 is elected outright.

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