In what can only be described as a full refutation of a progressive agenda, Matanuska-Susitna Borough voters turned back a host of liberal candidates in the deep red heartland of Alaska.
On Municipal-Borough Election night 2021, voters overwhelmingly supported well-known conservatives for borough Mayor, Assembly, and School Board. Conservative candidates are averaging 62.8% of ballots cast in those elections.
In a battle for the Mat-Su mayor’s post, longtime politico, current Palmer mayor and former State Senator Edna Devries handily defeated former Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle and and former Assemblyman Matt Beck. In most precincts she garnered more votes than both her opponents combined.
DeVries was a formidable candidate. She served on the Palmer Council and was chairman of the Planning and Zoning Committee. She is a former member and vice chair of the Alaska Commission of Aging, and former member and chairman of the Human Rights Commission. She also has 29 years of business experience, including as a real estate broker, owner of three Christian book stores, and a pizza restaurant. Along with her husband Noel, she ministers to abused women and the homeless, and runs a School of Government class for the public. She was previously mayor of Palmer, borough Assembly member, borough mayor, as well as a state senator.
The unofficial final count for mayor was Devries-7,623, Beck-3,577, and Cottle-2,000
DeVries was not the only big winner. First-time candidate Dolores McKee mopped the floor with her liberal union activist opponent. McKee is wife of current Assemblyman George McKee, mother of former Americans for Prosperity Director Ryan McKee, and sister of former Senate President Pete Kelly.
DeeDee, as she is known, was heavily outspent, nearly 2-1 in the race. At the conclusion of election night, she was winning the race approximately 65%/35%, a landslide.
The unofficial final count in Assembly District 3 was McKee-1,180, Bailey-427, and Kruger-198.
Incumbent Assemblyman Jesse Sumner turned back two challengers, garnering over 66% of the votes on election night. He is a young and growing political force in the state after jumping in to serve on the Assembly three years ago. The unofficial final count in Assembly District 6 was Sumner-1367, Short-563, and Clippard-133.
Conservative school board Chairman Tom Bergey took nearly 63% of the vote. The final count was Bergey-1,592, Berrigan-940.
Newcomer to politics Jubilee Underwood claimed over 67% of the vote in her school board election. The final count was Underwood-846, Walther-413.
Ron Bernier, owner of JP Construction, won handily for Assembly District 7. The final count was Bernier-1,192, Boeve-737.
With the Mat-Su Borough being the second largest and fastest growing region of the state, these landslide election results must be deeply concerning for former Gov. Bill Walker, who seeks to return to that seat after being trounced by voters in 2018.
The Mat-Su Borough is home to Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the most conservative legislative delegation in the state. It counts House Minority Leader Cathy Tilton, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Shelley Hughes, and Sen. David Wilson on the Senate Finance Committee and Rep. DeLena Johnson on the House Finance Committee as delegation members.
This is not an area that can be lightly dismissed. Any statewide election, including the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives seats, will depend on this region for a victory in November 2022.
Mat-Su voters changed their election date through a ballot measure in 2018 to line up with the national General Election; this is an off-year for a statewide election, and so the Mat-Su is the only borough or city in the state with election results.
The borough election appears to have been well run, with results coming in timely, unlike elections in communities that have moved to mail-in ballots, such and Anchorage and Juneau, where results are not known for many days and voters have grown wary of the chain of custody of ballots. In Juneau last month, hundreds of ballots were tossed because after they were mailed, the Post Office didn’t put a cancellation mark on them to indicate if they were mailed on time.