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May 18, 2021

The Big Breakdown – Alaska Elections 2020

THE BIG BREAKDOWN

It took two weeks, but at last we have the final numbers in Alaska’s 2020 election!

We can officially say that in 2020, Alaska had more voters turn out than in any other election ever. That’s something!

It’s also worthy of note that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won in Anchorage, and performed better statewide than any presidential ticket since Lyndon Johnson! That means Democrats were motivated, showed up, and are a larger force in the state than ever before. The final was 42.8 Biden/Harris to 52.8 Trump/Pence. The state we match most closely with is Iowa, which went 44 Biden/Harris and 53 Trump/Pence. So chin up – at least we’re not like Wyoming that went for Trump by 69.9%! That almost makes us feel like a swing state!

 

FEDERAL

Our two endorsed federal candidates, Dr. Al Gross and Alyse Galvin weren’t able to cross the line this time, but they came within striking distance and each mobilized an impressive army of volunteers and a strong ground game. We thank them both for running grueling campaigns that both had a real shot. But Dan Sullivan and Don Young are each in it for another term, both with about 54% of the vote. Don Young will be heading back to the minority party in DC, and depending on the outcome of the two Georgia Senate races in January, Dan Sullivan could too. The fate of the Senate remains in the balance, so don’t worry that you’ll run out of political drama any time soon.

 

STATE

 

In a year which turned out to be tough on Democrats in state legislatures across the country, we’re proud that Alaska totally bucked that trend. We not only kept all of our Senate seats, we took two additional House seats which had been Republican strongholds for may years! So enjoy a toast, a pat on the back, and a sigh of relief. We couldn’t have done it without your donations, volunteer time, GOTV efforts, and willingness to support our fine candidates.

SENATE

The makeup of the Alaska State Senate has remained status quo with 13 Republicans and 7 Democrats, but there were a few big changes in personnel. Republican Robb Meyers will take over for long-standing North Pole Republican John Coghill, and Republican Roger Holland has won Senate President Cathy Giessel’s seat in South Anchorage. Both Meyers and Holland have never held elected office before and neither has a political background. Their budget philosophies range from “I’m going to do whatever Donna Arduin tells me to do because I’ve never thought about this stuff before,” to “No biggie, just smash the piggy bank, it’ll be fine!” – so we’ll see how THAT goes.

This is the second cycle in which a sitting Senate President has been ousted from the legislature. Last time it was Democrat Scott Kawasaki who flipped the seat and knocked off Republican Pete Kelly in Fairbanks. This time it’s Giessel, who inarguably ran a tight ship at the dais, who has been retired. Given the insertion of inexperienced far-right Senators into the mix, there’s some talk about whether the Senate will organize itself into a coalition-style configuration (a caucus of D’s, and moderate R’s one one side, and a caucus of far-right hardliners on the other),  or whether the remaining Republicans will take the newcomers into the fold, forming an all-Republican caucus, and hoping it all doesn’t go off the rails.

Our incumbent Democratic Senators, Bill Wielechowski in East Anchorage, and Donny Olson in Golovin both easily defeated Republican challengers, once again showing that their districts are happy with the representation they’re getting. Congratulations to them both!

Democratic Senate candidate Carl Johnson made some serious inroads in the sprawling South and East Anchorage District N, and with its two House Districts, HD27 (just flipped to D) and 28 teetering on the edge, this seat is one to look to in the next cycle.

HOUSE RACES

First thing to say about the House is congratulations to all our Democratic incumbents – whether they ran unopposed, or faced challengers, every single one of them will be going back to Juneau! [applause]

Not only that, we were able to pick up two seats – both in Anchorage! Calvin Schrage (a Democratically-endorsed non-partisan) clobbered incumbent Mel Gillis. Gillis, if you remember, was a big game guide picked by the Republican Party and appointed by Dunleavy to the position of ‘yes man’ during a seat shuffle prompted by the sudden passing of Sen. Chris Birch. Schrage’s aggressive ground game, ebullient spirit, and earnest motivation to improve the lives of those in his district made this one a no-brainer for the folks in House District 25. This seat has been red for DECADES, so we look at it as a sign of what’s to come for the future. (HINT: More blueness)

The other HUGE pickup is Dr. Liz Snyder who upset House Minority Leader, Lance Pruitt, in East Anchorage’s HD27 by a nail-biting 16 votes. This district is the obligatory “Yes, Alaska, every vote matters” of the cycle. There’s always one… or two. Snyder ran last time, honed her campaign game, and came back strong to finish the deed. It often takes more than one swing of the axe to fell an incumbent, or flip a district. Snyder’s smarts and tenacity paid off, and she did both! The tiny margin of victory will trigger an automatic recount (paid for by the state) if Pruitt wants one, so expect to continue to watch this one play out.

And we can’t let this election pass without giving congratulations to Dan Ortiz (I) from Ketchikan who gave his Republican opponent, “Pastor Leslie” Becker the shellacking she deserved. [If you need a refresher, click HERE]

SOOOO CLOSE

Just to show you the big trends and good things to come, a huge tip of the hat to three House races which were close, and we think are indicative of potential future pickups.

  • Democrat Lyn Franks came just 90 votes away from flipping House District 15 (Anchorage-Muldoon/JBER), which had been held for multiple terms by Republican Gabrielle LeDoux, but fell just a hair short. 2022 could be the charm!
  • Anchorage Assemblymember Suzanne LaFrance ran a great race and was just a few hundred votes from flipping HD28 in South Anchorage – another decades-long Republican stronghold.
  • And Democrat Elizabeth Ferguson came very close in HD40, which spans the NW Arctic and North Slope region.

In an interesting development, the Independent who won that race in HD40, Josiah Patkotak, says he’s not sure which side he’ll caucus with, but told Alaska Public Media that the Power Cost Equalization (PCE) program and petroleum property taxes are big issues for him . “Those are on the list of priorities. There are other things that I’m interested in looking out for, and I’m making sure those are involved in my decision making moving forward… Anybody that’s going to look at attacking programs or services that are going to affect my district negatively, that’s not something I’m going to be in favor of, obviously,” he said.

SPOILER: Republicans pretty much have PCE on the chopping block, and Dunleavy and his party are happily sponging up the property taxes from the pipeline that used to go to local communities, and squeezing them into the state’s coffers. So, things could get interesting when caucuses form. Republicans technically have the majority, but like last time, there will likely be moderates who’d much rather caucus with Democrats than hard-liners like David Eastman. So we could end up back like we were last session with a tri-partisan caucus vs. the far right. We likely won’t know how this all falls out for a while yet.

 

BALLOT MEASURE 1

Well, we tried. And being able to say, “I told you so” in a few months is going to be cold comfort. We’ve hit the end of the road and used up the $16 billion that the bipartisan coalition in the Senate saved up back in the day. Sean Parnell came along, and not only spent it down with the largest budgets in Alaska history, but also ushered in the infamous SB21 oil tax structure also called the “More Production Act.” Well, that ‘more production’ part didn’t happen, and we didn’t get new jobs, and we didn’t get more money – but they sure did. We tried to repeal it by ballot initiative back in 2013 but the oil companies spent millions in advertising and kept everything in place. And would the Republican-controlled legislature act to help us recoup our fair share? Nope. And did the people rise up and demand it with a win on  Ballot Measure 1? Nope.

So here we are. Out of money and out of options. Be prepared for a smaller to no PFD, taxes of some sort, and services slashed even more. And a whole lot of “we told you so.”

BALLOT MEASURE 2

We didn’t endorse this one, but we didn’t oppose it. There’s a lot going on in there and we’re not sure how it will all play out. Alaska will be the guinea pig of elections going forward – with ranked choice voting, and a primary in which the top 4, regardless of party, will advance to the general election.  The Governor and Lt. Governor will also be running on the same ticket instead of separately. We’re hoping for the best, but like everyone else, we’ll just have to see what happens.

Apparently, under pressure from the Republican base, Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer has announced that there will be a full hand-count of the entire state for Ballot Measure 2, “just to assure folks that you can trust the machines, that you can trust the outcome of the results that Division of Elections will soon certify,” he said. “I think some of the emotion and some of the concern may be caused from the national level.” In other words, Trump has his base hysterical and has blamed the Dominion voting machines (which Alaska now uses) for his loss to Joe Biden. Meyer said he has “received emails to that effect.”

Spot counts to double-check random precincts, and a successful and accurate primary in August did not assure the Trump people, apparently. And not that there’s anything wrong with a double-check hand count, but we have no idea how much it will cost, nor why Ballot Measure 2, which was vehemently opposed by the Republican Party, should be the thing that arouses concern. More to come on this one.

DOWN BALLOT WARRIORS

Words can’t express our gratitude to all the amazing candidates who stood up and put themselves in the thick of it, running campaigns, getting their messages out there and doing the hard work of running for office – some in close races, and some in extreme Republican strongholds where voters desperately need a choice. Our candidates and campaign staff were really incredible this cycle – a glut of riches. We truly hope they will stay involved in Democratic politics, run again, or work on other campaigns in the future.

Thank you to our endorsed candidates: Christopher Quist, Jeremiah Youmans, Julia Hnilicka, Bill Johnson, Alma Hartley, Monica Stein-Olson, Andrea Hackbarth, Lyn Franks, Stephen Trimble, Sue Levi, Suzanne LaFrance, and Elizabeth Ferguson in the House – and to Jim Cooper, Roselynn Cacy, Andy Holleman, and Carl Johnson in the Senate. You are all very much appreciated.

 

‘MASK TYRANNY’ AT 30,000 FEET

What’s another week without the science-denying covid-vector-wannabe, Sen. Lora Reinbold, making a giant fuss over having to wear a mask? This time, the object of her ire is Alaska Airlines. You may recall from her own previous FB posts, that she’s gotten out of the airline’s mask mandate before by saying that masks “made it hard for her to breathe” even though it wasn’t true. This time they didn’t let her get away with it, so she made a big long post and took a picture of the flight attendants who are just trying to do their jobs, and played the victim yet again.

For a supposed free market Republican, you’d think she’d be all about private companies making their own rules. And about not patronizing those companies if you don’t like their rules. The looks in the photo say it all. Reinbold hasn’t been banned from Alaska Airlines yet, but there’s a lot of time and a lot of flights back and forth to Juneau before session is over. 

 

WORST FOR LAST

And finally, if you haven’t had a chance, stop right now and read this incredible article from Kyle Hopkins at the Anchorage Daily News, and ProPublica. He got to the bottom of the hideous coverup of the Attorney General’s harassment of a junior staffer in the Capitol. As will surprise no one, the timeline of events revealed that the Governor knew about it, his Chief of Staff Ben Stevens knew about it and told her to deny anything had happened if she was asked. The AG was given a month off and was scheduled to return to work like nothing had happened until the press began asking questions. Once the story broke, Clarkson quickly resigned. The State of Alaska owes a debt of gratitude to those who persisted asking questions and holding our leaders accountable.

THAT’S A WRAP!

With the exception of a potential recount of HD27, a hand recount of Ballot Measure 2, and the final certification, the election of 2020 is over. We’ve got 2 months to breathe before the 32nd legislature gavels in on January 19, 2021. Then it’s formulating caucuses, committee assignments, introduction of bills, and in December – the budget. Stay tuned.

 

 

This article is printed with permission of the Alaska Democratic Party

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2 Responses to “The Big Breakdown – Alaska Elections 2020”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    Last updated: January 08, 2021, 23:14 GMT
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:
    22,394,042
    Deaths:
    377,089

    4112 deaths on Thursday. Highest total recorded, so far.

    Where was the Murkowski with a spine at last year when drumpf could have been removed from office? 12 days of drumpf reign of terror left and she tells him to resign?

  2. mike from iowa says:

    South Duhkota’s useless, as tits on a boar, AG manage to strike and kill a civilian walking on the shoulder of a road and then proceeded to lie and make up stuff about whAt he hit and where he hit it. He was found to have been distracted while driving, no reason given. He also has not been suspended,, fired or even made to stand in a corner and likely won’t be because of Duhkota’s one party wingnut clamp on all things political.

    drumpf/noem body count for Thanksgiving Day…

    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:
    13,243,421
    Deaths:
    269,486

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