How many have voted? 13,568 people have early voted or absentee voted in the Aug. 16 primary, as of yesterday’s Division of Elections report. There were 23,900+ absentee ballots mailed to voters who requested them, and a substantially higher number of those went to Republican voters.
A fundraising metric: As of last week, Republican Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka had raised over $3.4 million, which is more than any other Republican challenger has ever raised against Murkowski. Joe Miller raised $3.36 million in 2010. That said, Murkowski has still raised a mountain of cash and is spending it. Murkowski raised $7.48 million and has over $5 million cash on hand, and there is a lot more money coming from an independent expenditure group and from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Other fundraising metrics: From Open Secrets, a couple of charts on the fundraising in the Begich-Peltola-Palin congressional race as of Aug. 4:
Dunleavy dominates in governor’s race: In the latest fundraising report from Alaska Public Offices Commission, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s campaign had raised $213,000, more than double that of challengers Bill Walker and Les Gara combined.
Walker had raised $59,000 and Gara brought in $52,000 for the quarter. Walker has $591,000 cash on hand, while Dunleavy has $864,000 cash on hand.
Walker world: Bill Walker is in Sitka for a fundraiser on Thursday. He is locking up the Sitka vote, as this is his third trip there in the past few months.
Les Gara land: The City of Dillingham has been a gracious host to Gara for governor that it even (probably) illegally posted his campaign event on the city’s event calendar, as shown above. Gara and his crew will be sign waving at Old Seward and Northern Lights Blvd. in Anchorage on Aug. 15.
Mary Peltola: The final-week strategy for congressional candidate Mary Peltola seems to be to keep her mouth shut so no one knows how liberal she really is. She may be trying to run on her “nice” reputation at this point. Even Sarah Palin, running as a Republican, compliments “nice” Peltola, the Democrat. But the Alaska Republican Party has been putting out multiple mailers tying to her to Biden and Democrats and telling voters not to rank Peltola at all in the special general election. As time runs short, Peltola has not put out a Facebook post for three days, after her performance in Kenai in which she said there is no hope for drilling in ANWR. In the past she has said she supports Critical Race Theory being taught in schools, so maybe her campaign is using silence as a strategy.
From the Federal Election Commission reports: Peltola has paid Ship Creek Group about $50,000 for campaign services. Ship Creek Group was founded and is run by the campaign manager for Walker-Mallott in 2018.
Endorsements: Former Rep. Jennifer Johnston, Republican, has endorsed Bill Walker for governor. Johnston lost to Rep. James Kaufman in 2020.
District 35 Fairbanks Republicans had an endorsement meeting with Sen. Click Bishop and his Republican challenger Elijah Verhagen on Wednesday, and Verhagen got the endorsement, while Sen. Bishop did not. Both of Verhagen’s districts now have endorsed him, as well as the Republican State Central Committee.
Cook Report says Palin is polarizing, Peltola has a path: “There’s no more confusing House race in the country than Alaska, where two Republicans with famous names — former Gov. Sarah Palin and software businessman Nick Begich III are vying against Democrat Mary Peltola in an August 16 special election under the state’s newly installed ranked-choice, instant-runoff voting rules. And by the way, a 22-way all-party primary for the full term is also playing out on the same ballot.
“In the first round of voting on June 11, Palin finished first in the top-four jungle primary with 27%, Begich came in second with 19%, independent candidate Al Gross came in third with 13% and Peltola advanced in fourth with 10%. But days later, Gross dropped out of the August 16 runoff, throwing his support to Peltola. A state judge subsequently ruled that the fifth-place finisher, Republican Tara Sweeney, was ineligible to advance to the runoff.”
“Both parties’ consultants agree Peltola is now on track to finish first in the initial ranked-choice vote. In the June primary, Democrats and Gross (who ran for Senate with Democrats’ support in 2020) combined for 30% to Republicans’ 58%, and post-Dobbs, Democrats’ vote share is likely to be higher. As long as Peltola takes at least 33% of first-choice votes, she’s mathematically guaranteed to advance to a final round against either Palin or Begich.”
In other words, Peltola only needs 33% of the first-choice votes to be the one to beat.
Cook goes on to say that Palin, one of the candidates for Congress for Alaska’s open seat, faces headwinds because she is so polarizing. Alaskans could get Peltola if they don’t rank Begich first.
“Peltola’s exceedingly narrow path in the instant runoff depends on Palin edging out Begich and plenty of Begich voters defecting to Peltola or leaving their second choice blank. After all, this is a state Trump carried by 10 points in 2020. But this is the first time in Alaska history voters have been asked to rank their choices, adding to the race’s unpredictability. It does help Republicans that the special coincides with regularly scheduled local primaries,” the report says.
“Bottom line: Alaska’s new election format handicaps the polarizing Palin, who has a high floor of support but a low ceiling. Begich might be the ever-so-slight frontrunner, but the vagaries of ranked-choice mean an upset can’t be ruled out.”
NRCC voting ad on YouTube: The National Republican Congressional Committee has put out an ad on social media encouraging people to rank either Nick Begich or Sarah Palin and to not rank Mary Peltola on the ranked choice ballot. It’s the same message Republican voters have been getting in the mail from the Alaska Republican Party lately: