Rep. Geran Tarr files for Senate Seat J to contest Forrest Dunbar in new Anchorage district


Rep. Geran Tarr, who represents East Anchorage in the Alaska House of Representatives, has decided to run for Senate Seat J, a solid Democrat seat that cuts through the heart of Anchorage. She filed with the Division of Elections today.

Already in the race is Anchorage Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar.

The clash of these Democrat titans represents a major fracture in the Democrat playbook of getting the party’s approval to run for a seat, and not challenging the party’s chosen candidate.

It also represents a lawmaker — Tarr — who has put in the time and effort in the Legislature, vs. someone who runs for every office that comes up: Dunbar has run for Congress, Assembly, Mayor, Assembly, and now state Senate.

With that many different attempts, Dunbar is well-known as a political climber, compared with Tarr, a Democrat loyalist who has been a leading advocate for food security and agriculture, and who represents the heaviest minority community in Anchorage.

Dunbar, on the other hand, is well-known for race-baiting statements and actions while serving on the Assembly.

Unlike Dunbar, Tarr is not perceived as a hater and denigrator of the U.S. Constitution. She has served in the House since Jan. 18, 2013 representing what was known under the old numbering system as House District 19.

With ranked choice voting, the top four vote getters in the Aug. 16 open primary will go on to the November ballot, where voters will rank them from 1-4 — most favorite to least favorite. For now, there are only two people in the race for the new Senate seat for this liberal section of Anchorage; the filing deadline is June 1.


  1. Suzanne, thanks for highlighting that these are open primaries.

    When voting on August 16th you can vote for the least worst Democrat where no Republican is on the ticket.

    Expect Democrats to employ this strategy as well.

    Geran Tarr while still a Democrat is infinitely better than Forrest Dunbar in terms of personality and sensibility. She is closer to Wielechkowski and is open to discussion where Dunbar is not.

    The downside for Tarr this election is she openly engaged in horse trading and sacrificed her PFD vote for passing domestic violence reform despite acknowledging high levels of poverty in her district. Dunbar will exploit this.

    • The ability to vote for the “least worst” member of the other party is the only silver lining of Ballot Measure 2. It promotes RINOs but it also punishes socialists

  2. I still don’t see why we need to rank more than two candidates. Only your second choice is ever possibly considered. Your third and fourth choices never come into play.

    • Not so. But first, for the record, Alaska’s Ranked Choice system is a stupid way to vote.
      Let’s imagine your first choice “Bob” receives the lowest number of votes in the first round, and none of the others achieve 50% plus 1. In that case, your first choice is discarded (everyone whose first choice was Bob) and your second choice “Carla” then becomes your new first. The votes are counted again and if anyone receives 50% plus one, you’re reasoning becomes true: there was no reason at all to rank numbers 3 and 4.
      BUT, if none of the 3 break the 50% plus 1 barrier, there’s another round. Let’s imagine Carla received the lowest vote count. All those who ranked Carla first (including people who put her as their original first choice plus people, like you, who voted for Bob first and then Carla second) would see their second or third choice make it to the top. By this time there are two people in the race and surely one of them would reach 50% plus 1.
      As I said, this is a stupid system. But it is what it is and we’ll have to put up with it until it becomes legal to get rid of it.

  3. Geran Tarr is a Democrat In Name Only. Conservatives should vote for her in the open primary

    • Count me in on a primary vote for Tarr…….but only to prevent radical LGBTQ from taking over Juneau too. They already have Anchorage.

  4. It is a shame that a candidate can run for office while currently serving in an elected office. The exception would be for re-election to the same position.
    Would be wonderful to smack down all the ladder climbers (Dunbar… I am looking your way). Force them to put their current position on the line before they can run for a “promotion.” A lot of people who think moving up the political ladder is a career goal will suddenly disappear.

  5. Amazingly, Alaska’s GOP Inc. offers no hint that they’re ready, willing, and able to exploit this rift in Democrat ranks.
    One would think skilled operatives could chum the political waters, provoke the predators to turn on each other, leaving jaded voters with a much more attractive GOP alternative.
    Could be early days yet, we’ll be listening for clues that GOP Inc. may be engineering just such a coup.

  6. I want my vote to count for who I want elected. Is it legitimate in ranked voting to enter the same name in all four slots, or even only fill in the top slot & leave the others blank. Will my vote be counted or will my ballot be tossed?

    • Toni,
      You may vote for any number of candidates, up to four. What you CANNOT do is:
      – vote for one candidate more than once (rank them first, second, and third, for example)
      – vote for one candidate first, and another for third, while leaving second place blank. Don’t skip.
      My advice is to never rank a candidate unless you think that candidate is better (or less bad) than the candidate you don’t rank (or rank lower). In this race (Dunbar vs Tarr) it is clear that Dunbar is a FAR WORSE choice. I would put Tarr first and leave the other slots blank, never listing Dunbar at all.
      The trouble comes when folks think of gaming the system somehow. Imagine the GOP puts up a little-known but fully acceptable candidate. Can they win in this Democrat-drawn district? Not likely. So what’s a smart Republican to do? Maybe by voting for Tarr first, conservatives could help her achieve a first-round victory, thus getting the less bad Democrat. But had Republicans gone for the conservative, and that candidate is tossed after the first round, conservatives could still hand a victory to Tarr by ranking her second, again electing the less bad Democrat. But if conservatives say “No way am I voting for a Dumbocrat” they remove themselves from the pool of deciding voters if it goes to the second round.
      See how crazy this stupid ranked choice voting scheme is?

      • I understand that IF you leave one slot blank, that is another reason to toss your total votes into the garbage, You have to fill all 4 slots with names in the ORDER of your preference..If you leave one slot blank..into the trash bucket. That also applies if you fill all 4 slots with one name as mentioned above.

        • KC, you are wrong about leaving slots blank.
          It does not invalidate your ballot if you only vote for three, or two, or even one candidate, with the understanding that if the selection moves down your ballot to those secondary and tertiary candidates, you will not have a vote in that case. But your choices up to that point are just as valid, and just as much in play, as anyone else’s.

    • If you write the same name more than once your ballot will be discarded and your vote will not be counted. You can only vote for one candidate one time, if you don’t vote for any other candidate(s) then your vote will be tallied for that candidate in the first round, if there are subsequent rounds and your candidate does not advance to the next round then your ballot is exhausted. Not ranking other candidates also leaves your ballot open for potentially unscrupulous folks to rank the other candidates for you.

    • In the primary, you can only choose one. In the general, you CANNOT rank a candidate more than once without invalidating your ballot. You can leave the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines blank if you desire. However, you run the risk of others “filling out” those slots for you. This is my understanding of how the system works. Of course, I’ll read the instructions carefully just in case I’ve been led astray somewhere along the way. Just remember, your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choices ONLY come into play once your 1st choice has been eliminated. At that point, you simply try to protect against the least palatable option winning. Or maybe vote for the other person you kind of like 2nd . . . it will actually happen on occasion!

      • I think it’s in the primary ALSO is “rank” choice. Voting to replace Don Young on June 11 is not the final vote for US Congress. The August primary is also Rank choice. Those that win in August ARE ON the Nov ballot. You cannot leave any blank in August, it’ll be tossed out.

        • KC, you are again wrong here. Leaving one or more slots empty on one’s ballot does NOT invalidate it! A voter does NOT have to make four choices if they choose not to.

  7. There will never be a Republican in Mountain View. Been here 18 yrs we are to diverse and the dems control everything for them. Dumbar ha I will vote for Tarr over his butt unless Republicans put someone up.

  8. Toni I believe it is a breaking of the system to expedite the taking of Alaska’s of any possibly valuable things by any and all possible international exploiters. Goodbye enstar.

  9. So let me see if I am getting this right…….if my number 1 pick is eliminated, I don’t get to vote in the election in November? This garbage it way too confusing.

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