I talked to Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai earlier today. She said that what she’s hearing is that turnout is about average, which could mean a lot of things. Here’s what average means in Alaska in the last two primary cycles when there’s been a Senate race.
In 2010 Joe Miller challenged incumbent Lisa Murkowski. Scott McAdams was the Democratic candidate. A total of 164,047 Alaskans voted out of a total of 487,456 registered voters. That’s about 34 percent of the vote. About 36,000 of those primary voters chose the open ballot, which allows all voters regardless of party affiliation, to vote for candidates of any party except for Republicans. 109,650 voted Republican.
In 2008, Mark Begich was challenging the incumbent Ted Stevens. A total of 193,533 Alaskans voted out of a total of 476,472 registered voters. That’s about 40.62 percent of all registered voters. 75,783 people took the open ballot, and 105,326 chose the Republican ballot.
I just got off the phone with pollster Ivan Moore, who often works for Democratic groups, and who has been doing state-wide polling on races and on issues. Based on his data and on gut, here are his predictions for the GOP primary Senate race and Ballot Measure #1:
U.S. GOP Senate primary race:
Dan Sullivan: About 44 percent
Joe Miller: About 30 percent
Mead Treadwell: About 26 percent.
Moore predicts that No on #1 is going to win by anywhere from 10 to 13 percentage points.
Update: Marc Hellenthal, another pollster, sees a bigger Joe Miller surge than does Moore. But he predicts that the order is right.
Here are some flying-by-the-seat-of my-pants predictions for what’s going to happen in tomorrow’s primary races. I did not cover all the contested races. I chose the races that were interesting and that I knew something about. These predictions come from various interviews, lots of reading, and checking campaign finance reports. (See the most recent story on the reports here). But mostly, I’m going by gut feelings. Please keep in mind that primary races are tremendously impacted by turnout, unpredictable, and GOP primaries are all the more so. So there’s a good chance that I’m wrong on at least a few of these. Maybe more. Please leave comments with your own predictions and insights.
U.S. Senate GOP primary race: Joe Miller has certainly picked up steam in the final leg of this campaign. Mailers are being dropped. Phones are ringing off the hook. Mike Huckabee’s and Sarah Palin’s voices are floating through the wires. Sign wavers are out in droves. All of which should serve as a lesson to every candidate everywhere about the necessity of keeping something for the end. Continue reading →
“During a Monday interview on Anchorage radio station KOAN-AM, Mr. Sullivan five different times declined to say whether he is ideologically closer to Mr. Miller or Ms. Murkowski. He said both that he didn’t vote in the 2010 Senate race because, as attorney general, he would have to act on post-election litigation and “someone would say, ‘were you on this person’s side or that person’s side.’”
I’m joining Dan Fagan and Glen Biegel on their show tomorrow 7:30 a.m. to interview GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan. Tune in at 95.5 FM, and 1080 AM in Anchorage and 92.5 FM and 1020 AM in the Valley. Or listen on line here.
Did you know Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was in Anchorage this week? Me either. I must have missed that press release. Gillibrand was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Hillary Clinton’s appointment to be Secretary of State. She is best known for her leadership in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and to end sexual harassment and violence in the military. In Alaska, however, she’s known as being a “liberal, anti-gun Democrat.” In 2013, Alaska Republicans made a big deal out of a visit, claiming that she and Begich were parading around the state, raising money. Wrong. Turns out that Gillibrand was here to conduct a round-table with Begich on sexual assault, and that Begich didn’t attend the fundraiser with her last year. This year’s an even worse year to be seen with a “liberal, anti-gun Democrat.” So on Saturday, the Alaska Democratic Party celebrated her presence quietly. Spotted at the event through a Facebook posting: state House candidate Laurie Hummel, Kay Brown and Rep. Geran Tarr. Not spotted: Mark Begich. Continue reading →
Here’s Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Bob Williams’ final TV ad before the primary. It’s playing statewide on KTUU-Channel 2. Williams, a math teacher in Wasilla, is new to the political stage. He’s challenging Alaska state Sen. Hollis French, who has strong name recognition — one, if not the main criteria to win a lieutenant governor’s race in an Alaska primary. French is also widely respected in Democratic circles. Williams is no slouch though. He’s given it a shot. He’s traveled widely throughout the state and has had some impressive endorsements, including Democratic icon Katie Hurley, and Alison Arians, who’s emerged as a leader in the fight for public education. While never perfect, his ads are also getting better as he goes along. This one was shot by him on his Samsung phone and edited by a colleague.
Christopher Clark, the always helpful and gracious long-time Juneau fixture and top-notch staffer to Rep. Cathy Munoz is said to be retiring in October. Munoz has hired Crystal Koeneman to try to fill his big shoes. Most recently. Koeneman worked for Rep. Lora Reinbold. Before that, she worked for Commerce as the commissioner’s special assistant and legislative liaison. (Bumper sticker idea: Once a cushy state job in Alaska, always a cushy state job in Alaska.) Rumor has it that Koeneman has been rumored to be looking for a new job for some time. Reinbold’s not been great at keeping staff. Here’s hoping that Koeneman’s replacement, Dean Williams from Eagle River, stays around for a while. Williams served as the superintendent of the McLaughlin Youth Center and was an unsuccessful candidate for the Anchorage School Board.
I was traveling through the Kenai, Soldotna, Nikiski area earlier this week and saw lots and lots of No on #1 signs. The GOP Senate sign war in this area seems to be won by Joe Miller with Dan Sullivan in a respectable chase. Continue reading →
The IBEW and the Alaska State Employees Association—both of which represent thousands of government workers–have endorsed “Yes” ballot measure 1, to repeal the oil tax. Meanwhile, four trade unions – Teamsters Local 959, Plumbers & Pipefitters United Association Local 375 in Fairbanks, Operating Engineers Local 302 and Laborers Local 942 –have urged voters to vote “No” on the repeal. Those unions get substantial amounts of work from the oil fields.
The debate is complex. Production curves. Rates of return. New versus old production. Legacy fields versus non unitized areas. Personalities and conflicting numbers. All of these things and more add to the stew that’s makes up the oil tax debate.
But the public union endorsements add to my suspicion that at its heart, the most recent incarnation of the fight over oil taxes—a fight that the state has been having since Prudhoe was discovered in 1968—is really more simple than all of this. When you get down to it, the biggest elephant in the room lives in the state coffers, where it involves, among other weighty things, public employee versus private sector jobs. And that’s an elephant that few, at least in government, want to talk about. Continue reading →
After Joe Miller said in a debate on Thursday night that Sarah Palin is the figure in Alaska that most inspires him, Palin returned the favor by endorsing Miller for U.S. Senate.
“We said we’d send the good guys in Washington their reinforcements, so, Alaska, here we go! Vote for Joe Miller on Tuesday and shake off the liberal stronghold so we can get on the right track,” Palin said in a statement sent not to the local media, but to Fox News in New York on a Friday late afternoon, which is traditionally time to release news when you don’t want it to be news.
In 2010, Palin declined to work hard for Miller’s campaign after he won the 2010 primary. Part of the problem then was that when asked in an interview, Miller declined to say that Palin was qualified to be President of United States. Continue reading →
After upwards of $12 million spent by industry and their allies to try to keep the public from voting to repeal the oil tax regime that was passed in 2013, this video is the best thing to come out of the issue. It’s a take-off of the song “Let It Go,” from the Disney movie “Frozen.” A Facebook posting said it came from a group of volunteers. It appears to have been made by Michael Sedor, who is a graduate of Dimond High School and attends Gonzaga. who is a senior at Colony High School. However it works out on Tuesday, Sedore’s got a bright career ahead of him.
Probably the biggest news that came out of Thursday night’s Senate GOP primary debate was that Joe Miller said that he would “without a doubt,” support which ever candidate wins the primary.
“We’ve got to get rid of Begich. There’s no question about it,” a surprisingly amiable Miller said at the debate, which was moderated by KTUU’s Steve MacDonald. It was the last debate before the primary on Tuesday. KTUU is the state’s largest television station.
Up until now, unlike Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell, the two other candidates in the race, Miller has declined to answer that question. When asked, he repeatedly segued back to the two candidates’ support of Lisa Murkowski when she lost to him in the 2010 GOP primary. Continue reading →
The Alaska Policy Forum, which is part of a network of conservative think tanks across the country, has compiled a salary database of 2,561 Municipality of Anchorage employees so that “taxpayers have as much factual data as possible so they can encourage elected officials to make the right decisions,” David Boyle, head of APF, said in a release.
A pamphlet of the salaries is being distributed inside the Anchorage Daily Dispatch. Some of the salaries are eye-popping. As the database shows, 1,978 muni employees made more than $100,000 a year in total earnings and benefits in fiscal year 2013. One hundred sixteen of those made more than $200,000 a year, including benefits. Eight made more than $250,000 a year. Continue reading →