In a fund-raising talk with Homer left-leaning political activists, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Les Gara described how he sees ranked-choice voting impacting the election for governor in November of 2022: He and former Bill Walker will get the same voters, only some will rank him as #1 and some will rank Walker as #1.
Under the new system approved by Alaska voters in 2020, a nonpartisan primary, with all names on the same ballot, will be offered to voters on Aug. 16, 2022. The top four vote getters in each race will proceed to the general election ballot, where voters rank them in the order of their preference, 1-4.
Gara thinks that those who vote for him first will put former Gov. Bill Walker as their second choice. And those who vote for Walker first, will rank him as second. Gara said that two liberals in the race will have the effect of blocking conservatives in the final tally.
Many politicos speculate that Gara was asked to run by Walker operative Scott Kendall, who also is a principal figure in the Ballot Measure 2, the ranked choice voting system now to be experienced by Alaska voters.
“You need to occupy at least two of those spots with acceptable candidates. Even if I didn’t like campaigning, and [if] I or Bill Walker didn’t want to be in this race, we have to be in the race to make sure Dunleavy doesn’t benefit from too many second-place votes,” Gara said, as quoted by the Peninsula Clarion News. Was Gara hinting that his own race is as much about taking second as it is about winning outright, but blocking Dunleavy at all costs?
The Zoom presentation was sponsored by Homer’s Citizens AKtion Network, a group that is involved in climate change and social justice causes, and which is closely associated with the Democratic Party.
Gara served in the Alaska House of Representatives on behalf of downtown Anchorage, until retiring in 2019. That seat is now occupied by Rep. Zack Fields, a union field organizer by trade, and sometimes an amateur leg-wrestler by night.