Alaska’s August ballot picks will look just like November’s picks in almost all state races, due to open primaries

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In all but three Alaska legislative races, there is no winnowing being done in the Aug. 20 Primary Election. If there are four or fewer candidates in a race, they all automatically advance to November.

Since Ballot Measure 2 went into effect in 2022 and gave Alaska an “open” Primary, allowing Sen. Lisa Murkowski to bypass a Republican primary, it’s now the top four vote getters who proceed to the General Election ballot. Only three legislative races this year have more than four candidates. They are: Senate Seat L, Senate Seat R, and House District 36.

After Ballot Measure 2 passed, the parties have been stripped of their role in providing their most popular candidate to the General Election.

Read more and see the entire list of candidates here:

Unless candidates drop out unexpectedly, that means voters get to vote for candidates in August, and again in November. On the November ballot, however, they’ll rank them in first, second, and third place, using the Ranked-Choice Voting method that applies in the General Election.

Also of note, in the congressional race, the Alaska Libertarian Party did not run a candidate, nor did the Green Party. There are 12 candidates running for Alaska’s one seat in Congress; that will drop to four candidates after the Primary and voters will be able to rank those four candidates in the General Election.

Other notes and observations from watching the Saturday deadline filings:

South Anchorage’s House District 9 race to replace retiring Rep. Laddie Shaw ended up with four candidates running. Republican Brandy Pennington filed on Saturday as a candidate. Two other Republican candidates — Lucy Bauer and Lee Ellis — and one no-party candidate — Ky Holland — are in the race already. Holland is a liberal who signed the recall petition against Gov. Mike Dunleavy. This race is an example of how voters will see the same field of candidates twice in three months.

Brent Johnson of Clam Gulch has filed for House District 6, challenging Rep. Sarah Vance. Johnson is a no-party candidate, while Vance is a Republican. There are others already in this race, including no-party Alana Greear, who is a teacher and NEA activist; and Dawson Slaughter, a Republican.  Johnson had also this week filed to run for Kenai Borough Assembly.

Dana Mock of Fort Greely has filed for House District 36, a seat now being vacated as Rep. Mike Cronk of Tok runs for Senate Seat R. Mock is the chair-elect of the Alaska Association of School Boards, a group that has opposed the governor’s attempts to hold schools accountable. The chair of that group is Anchorage School Board President Margo Bellamy. Mock is a registered Republican. Also in the hunt for House District 36 are: Republican Pam Goode, Libertarian James Fields, Democrat Brandon P. “Putuuqti” Kowalski; Republican Rebecca Schwanke, and Republican Cole Snodgress.

Republican Joy Beth Cottle of Fairbanks has thrown her name in for House District 34. She works for the fire department and has been a fierce advocate for the return to defined benefits for public employees. She is taking on incumbent Rep. Frank Tomaszewski. He is also a Republican. In this case, voters will see two names in August and two names in November, and Ranked-Choice Voting will not apply. In races where there are only two candidates, there is no purpose to ranking.

Republican Harold Borbridge filed for Senate Seat F, now occupied by Republican Sen. James Kaufman. In 2020, he ran against Sen. Josh Revak for what was a special election for then-Senate Seat M; redistricting has reshaped the political boundaries and he is now looking to replace Kaufman, who is one of the Republicans who have put the Democrats in the majority in the Senate. This is another example of a race in which voters will see the same candidates twice but there will be no ranking.

Leighton Radner, a Libertarian from Seward, filed for House District 5, taking on House Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak. Stutes is a Republican but has long caucused with the Democrats in the House and was an original member o the liberal Musk Ox Coalition of pro-big government Republicans. There will be no ranking in this race in November.

Republican Ruben A. McNeill filed for House District 35, where Democrat Rep. Ashley Carrick is now serving and has filed for reelection. This is McNeill’s second run for this seat; his first run was in 2022. Voters in November will not rank this race.

Tina Wegener of Sterling has filed to run against Republican Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, who is coming to the end of his first term for the Kenai Peninsula. Wegener changed from unaffiliated to Democrat. Rep. Ben Carpenter, a Republican, and Andy Cizek, an Alaskan Independence Party member, are already in the race. All four will proceed to November’s ballot for ranking.

There are also now four Republicans in the Wasilla House District 28 race, where Rep. Jesse Sumner now serves. Sumner finally filed on Saturday, and Elexie Moore filed last Wednesday. Also in the race is Steve Menard and Jessica Wright. All four will proceed to November’s ballot for ranking.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Once again, lets recognize the afternoon drive radio host for his contribution to destroying Alaska’s election process.

    This mess couldn’t have happened without him.

  2. I worked elections for many years and was chairperson for many of them. They are not without cost, although I don’t know the exact figures. It would save the State a bunch of money to not even have a Primary if it’s going to be wide open anyway. But that idea is probably over the heads of some of the morons who want to control the elections.

  3. Thank you for the list Suzanne. Very interesting new names and, at least, one that I recognize that changed parties for this race. Sad to see the names of some of those last-minute filers! Mat-Su Wasilla is standing on wobbly legs with some RINOs running unopposed.

    Willie Keppel, I hope that you WIN that seat for your area.
    David Eastman, I hope that you WIN that seat for your area.
    Jesse Sumner, I hope that you LOSE your seat. You do not represent your constituents now as it is.
    David Wilson, I hope that you LOSE your seat. You do not represent your constituents now as it is.

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