UNPRECEDENTED MARGIN FOR CONTESTED PRIMARY IN ALASKA
Primary voters who chose the Republican ballot gave Mike Dunleavy more than 39,193 votes on Tuesday, with more than 98 percent of the votes counted.
He becomes the nominee with a wide margin over his nearest competitor, Mead Treadwell, who received 20,230 votes.
It was a stunning 62-32 victory for the former Wasilla senator.
Beyond the raw numbers, the Dunleavy victory was an unprecedented margin in a contested gubernatorial primary in Alaska, said Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
On the Democrats’ ballot, Mark Begich was the only contender, and he eased through the night with 29,886 votes.
How that sets Dunleavy, Begich, and Gov. Bill Walker up in a three-way primary will be the discussion of the week in political circles in Alaska.
Gov. Bill Walker can claim he has at least 5,000 votes coming out of the primary — those 5,000 are represented by signatures he submitted on a petition on Monday that will allow him to go to the General Election as a lone wolf, without a party organization of volunteers behind him. He will have to instead rely on his family and paid staff to advance his campaign.
Begich, on the other hand, now will get the support of the national Democratic Party, including the coveted funds that come from the Democratic Governors Association, which could be in the millions.
Of the 103,175 people who voted in the primary, Republican candidates received 64,754 votes, and Democrats got 38,421 votes. The main primary on the Democrats’ ballot was in the congressional race, where Alyse Galvin won with 55 percent of the vote to Demitri Shien’s 23 percent.
The best way to become governor of Alaska is to win the Republican primary, and to do so with commanding fashion puts Dunleavy in a strong position to succeed in November, whether there is a three-way race or a two-way.
Dunleavy hits the campaign trail to Soldotna today, while speculation swirls about whether Walker or Begich can muscle each other out of the race. They have until Sept. 4 to do so. Widespread pressure on Begich to drop out will only intensify in the days ahead. But so far, he has exhibited no signs of buckling.
The scene at the Aviator Hotel was upbeat, where hundreds of Republicans gathered to watch the results come in. Early in the night, when only 17 percent of the votes had been counted, Dunleavy leapt to a 30 point lead and stayed above that range the rest of the night. The ultimate outcome was never in question.
Kevin Meyer won the night for the lieutenant governor’s race, and now he and Dunleavy will form a ticket. Meyer took 36 percent of the vote to Edie Grunwald’s 27 percent.
Participants — many who had worked on various legislative campaigns — were in the mood to celebrate the victories and marvel at the upsets. At midnight, Treadwell walked through the mostly empty ballroom and spoke to those who remained, as the staff was clearing the tables.
“The whole race was about Alaskans saying ‘listen to us,’ said Dunleavy campaign manager Brett Huber. “The issues that carried were burning public issues of the Permanent Fund, reducing the cost of government, and Alaskans just want a governor who won’t break their trust.”
“Alaskans spoke loud and clear tonight,” Dunleavy said. “They want a government where leaders honor their promises. Restoring the trust of the people in their elected officials is crucial to our ability to turn this state around. Tonight’s victory belongs to the thousands of ordinary, working Alaskans who want leaders who say what they mean, and mean what they say.”
RESEARCHER NAILS THE OUTCOME
Dittman Research issued a prediction on Tuesday morning, which was embargoed until 8 pm when polls closed. The prediction was within one point of the ultimate outcome. Dittman predicted a 29 point margin of victory, which is nearly exactly where it ended last night:
BACK ON THE TRAIL
Fresh off his historic, landslide primary victory, Dunleavy hits the trail today for the Kenai Peninsula. He will be at Industry Appreciation Day on Saturday on the green strip in Kenai, from noon-3:30 pm.