A strong turnout of voters in Senate District F, the conservative fortress of Chugiak-Palmer-Mat-Su, swept Sen. Shelley Hughes to victory with more votes than were received by any other state senator in the recent General election.
Although absentee and some early votes are yet to be counted, the turnout in District F is already nearly 41 percent.
Hughes received 10,121 votes so far — decidedly more votes than even Sen. Tom Begich, who was unopposed in his bid for reelection in Senate District J and won 4,339 votes. Sen. Bert Stedman in Senate District R was also unopposed, and received 7,422 votes.
Hughes’ popularity was matched by House members in the district. District 11’s Rep. DeLena Johnson won 5,207 votes and District 12’s Rep. Cathy Tilton, whose vote total eclipsed all other House candidates in 2020 — 5,752.
What makes Sen. Hughes’ vote totals more remarkable is that she had two opponents on the ballot — Jim Cooper, the Democrat and former mayor of Palmer, and Gavin Christiansen, the Libertarian (who is now in jail awaiting trial for murder.) Cooper came away with 2,271 votes and 680 people cast their ballots for Christiansen.
Even with two opponents, however, Hughes won 77.31 percent of the vote.
Hughes said that after the election she received notes from a couple of Democrats saying she had earned their vote because she is a consensus builder and that although they had voted Democrat in all other races, they voted for her because of that.
The numbers bear that out. The top vote-getter in her Senate district, she received slightly more votes than even President Trump, who received 10,110 votes (of votes counted so far).
In fact, Hughes has received more votes in her district than Trump won in any Senate district in Alaska, so far; over 40 percent of the ballots are yet to be counted statewide.
Senate District F also has the distinction, for now, of having the highest voter turnout of any Senate district in Alaska.
Statewide, 192,918 of 595,647 registered voters have had their ballots counted, a statewide turnout of 32.39 percent.
In District 11-F, another 849 early votes and 2,035 absentees remain to be counted, and in District 12-F, 756 early votes and 2,188 absentees are yet to be counted. These numbers may change as more absentee ballots trickle in.
Statewide, 36,268 of 53,231 early votes are already counted; 16,963 are yet to be counted.
The rest of the votes — absentees and some early votes — will be counted next week by the Division of Elections.