Most of the 11,700 votes to be counted in the special congressional primary mail-in election are from the Anchorage area, with a sprinkling from Juneau and Kenai. The next count will be on June 21 and with this trend, it looks like — this is a prediction — Sarah Palin will be at about 27%, Nick Begich holding steady at 19.3%, with Al Gross near 12.8% and Mary Peltola at 9.5%.
The ballots accepted by the Division of Elections now total 161,414, which includes 157,033 absentee ballots (mail in) and 4,381 early votes.
Money isn’t everything in Alaska campaigns: One of the most intriguing aspects of this election is the Mary Peltola (pictured above) dark horse candidacy.
Peltola raised and spent the least amount of funds among the top finishers during the first reporting period. She received $81,636, spent just $38,320, leaving her with $43,315 and change to work with (reporting coverage period ending May 22). Nearly all of her funds came from individual donations from Alaskans, not from political action committees. There was no independent expenditure group coming alongside to support her, either.
Many Alaskans reacted to Peltola reaching the top four with the question: “Mary Who?”
Peltola is using the Democrats’-choice Ship Creek Group as her campaign consultant. She paid the group $10,000 as of May 22.
It was a good bet for Ship Creek Group. Presumably the big Democrat Party money is now coming to aid Peltola, while the Republican Party will likely remain paralyzed because there are two strong Republicans on the final ballot — Nick Begich and Sarah Palin.
Only Nick Begich is endorsed by the party, but the Palin factor is an undeniable consideration, and she is the top vote-getter in the primary. Her attacks on the Republican Party are going to make it awkward in terms of getting financial or moral support.
The ranked choice system disadvantages the Republican Party as an organization on many levels, the first of which is that Ballot Measure 2 took away the separate ballot that Republicans had previously used to ensure that registered Democrats didn’t cross over and install a bad candidate for the GOP for the general election. Now, the system makes it politically difficult for Republicans because, in Alaska, more than one Republican will be on so many ballots.
One of the tough questions is: What will Native corporations do now? Several of them backed Republican Tara Sweeney, with over $435,000 dropped into a super PAC supporting Sweeney (as of May 22). Sweeney’s campaign also spent over $80,000 and she ran an aggressive name-ID campaign.
Peltola’s stance on development of Alaska’s resources may worry the greater business community. But she is as Alaska Native as they come, and that creates a conundrum for the Native Corporation board room discussions. Their problem with Mary Peltola is that she is a genuinely nice person nobody in the Native community has much bad to say about her.
Fifty-nine days until Aug. 16: The four remaining candidates for Congress have just 59 days left to make their case to the voters for both the temporary and the regular seat for Congress. Although some candidates who are not going to be on the special general election ballot have declared they are dropping from the regular primary election, there are still 30 names on that list for Aug. 16.
At the same time, all the other candidates hoping for voter support (state House, Senate, U.S. Senate, Governor) also have but 59 days to try to get some attention before they, too, find out if they advance to the November ballot or just go fishing for silvers in late August.
James Kaufman for Senate Seat F kickoff:
Kaufman, a Republican, is running against Janice Park, a perennial Democrat candidate in this R-leaning district of South Anchorage:
Laddie Shaw for House Kickoff:
Shaw’s new House District is #9; he’s running against Democrat David Schaaf.
Nick Begich Wasilla spectacular:
Just look at that list of names in Wasilla, including Rep. George Rauscher, Rep. Kevin McCabe, Sen. Mike Shower, Rep. Delena Johnson, Sen. Shelley Hughes, and Rep. Cathy Tilton; also Assembly members DeeDee McKee, Jesse Sumner and Rob Yundt; Wasilla Mayor Glenda Ledford, Councilwoman Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, Palmer Councilwoman Pamela Melin, and more…
Jamie Allard for House kickoff:
Allard, coming from the Anchorage Assembly where she has been tackling the radical Left, is running against perennial candidate Roger Branson, also a Republican, for House District 23, Eagle River. Her kick off is Thursday at Bell’s Nursery:
Endorsements: IBEW 1547 has endorsed Al Gross for Congress. Emil Notti, an also-ran on the ballot of 48 congressional contenders, stated he endorses Mary Peltola for Congress. Republican Aletha St. Martin of Fairbanks added her name to the list of Nick Begich for Congress endorsers, as did Denise Hall of Sterling. Dr. Lindy Jones of Juneau endorsed Bill Walker for governor.
Les Gara for Governor: The Democrat candidate for governor wants red flag laws: “I’ve said we can come together where we can & pass a carefully written Red Flag law while respecting the 2nd Amendment.”
Bill Walker for Governor: Walker and Heidi Drygas were at Chena Hot Springs touring the ice hotel and greenhouses.
Charlie Pierce for Governor: Pierce had a big barbecue scheduled in Utqiagvik (Barrow) this week, but the plane turned around. “Our flight was turned around just before landing and cancelled.”