Editor’s note: This story has been updated on Wednesday morning with 98 percent of precincts reporting.
Primary election results Wednesday showed Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunleavy in the lead.
Dunleavy, of Wasilla, was leading the race with 61.8 percent of the vote Wednesday morning with 98.64 percent of precincts reporting. He is leading five other Republican hopefuls for the nomination. Republican Mead Treadwell has the next highest number of votes, with 31.9 percent.
Democrat Mark Begich was leading libertarian candidate William Toien in the Democratic primary Wednesday morning with 84.9 percent of the vote to Toien’s 15.13 percent. Begich will move forward to the general election in November and face Dunleavy and incumbent Gov. Bill Walker — who is running as an independent — in the general election Nov. 6.
In the lieutenant governor’s race, Kevin Meyer was leading the field for the Republican nomination over five contenders with 36.2 percent of the vote, according to the preliminary results. Democratic candidate Debra Call, the sole candidate in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, will move forward to the general.
For U.S. Congress, Rep. Don Young held a handy lead over two challengers for the Republican nomination. On the Democratic side, nonpartisan candidate Alyse Galvin is leading the race for the Democratic nomination in the general against Young. Galvin was leading the Democratic field with 54.2 percent, followed by Dimitri Shein with 23.1 percent, Carol Hafner with 14.7 percent and Christophe Cumings with 7.4 percent.
On the Kenai Peninsula, voters selected candidates for House of Representatives districts 29, 30 and 31 and Senate District O.
In District 29, Republican nominee Wayne Ogle and Democratic nominee Shawn Butler will move forward to the general election. The winner will replace outgoing representative Mike Chenault and represent a broad swath of the Kenai Peninsula from Nikiski to Sterling to Seward. Butler was the sole candidate in the Democratic primary race for the district, while Carpenter is leading candidate Ben Carpenter with 50.1 percent to Carpenter’s 49.9 percent with all precincts reporting Wednesday morning.
In District 30, incumbent Republican candidate Gary Knopp ran unchallenged and will move on to the general.
In District 31, incumbent Paul Seaton — who ran unopposed as a nonpartisan candidate in the Democratic primary — will face off against Republican nominee Sarah Vance in the general election in November. The District 31 Republican primary race was a three-way contest, with Vance taking 43.2 percent and beating out Anchor Point’s John Cox with 41.95 percent and Kasilof’s Henry Kroll 14.85 percent.
In District O, challenger Ron Gillham was leading incumbent Peter Micciche by a narrow margin — Gillham had 50.1 percent of the vote to Micciche’s 49.9 percent, a difference of 12 votes — by Wednesday morning, with all precincts reporting. No candidates filed for the Democratic primary, so the winner will move on to the general unchallenged.
Among peninsula voters, two main issues dominated the conversation: crime and the Permanent Fund Dividend. Many voters said they specifically wanted to vote for candidates who would reverse Walker and the Legislature’s moves to cap or reduce the amount of the dividend to help pay for government.
Soldotna resident Jim Walters, who turned out to vote at the Soldotna Sports Complex, identified crime and financial solvency as his top priorities. He said he supports cuts to the government budget in lieu of diminished returns from the permanent dividend fund.
“I think the government’s got to cut back instead of keep growing. The politicians keep thinking they don’t have to run a balanced budget. I don’t know of a home that doesn’t. If you don’t have a budget, next thing you do you’re homeless,” Walters said.
He also hoped to see the end of Senate Bill 91 — a massive crime reform package passed in 2016 and amended in the last Legislature.
“Something needs to be done,” he said. “I think it needs to be repealed entirely and gone at it from a different angle. What they’ve done so far — they’ve just made it so that serious criminals are getting to walk and it’s just not right.”
Walters said he was primarily interested in the outcome of the governor’s race and said he supported “anybody but Walker.”
Soldotna resident Abraham Anasogak also expressed a desire to see a change in the current administration and said he was voting to preserve permanent dividend fund returns.
“I would like to get the full PFD instead of half of it,” he said.
He said he would prefer to see the government reduce spending rather than cut the dividend.
“They should make cuts where cuts need to be made,” he said.
Abe Ishmael, who turned out to vote at Kenai’s Challenger Learning Center on Tuesday afternoon, expressed apathy about the current election.
“(I’m) not too impressed,” Abe Ishmael said. “It’s always the same story, you know?”
Alternatively, Shea Barnes, who also voted at the Challenger Center in Kenai, emphasized the importance of participating in the electoral process and said that even a small number of people can be the deciding factor in a race.
“I think everybody should get out and vote because it makes a difference,” Barnes said.
While Tuesday’s ballots only had the names of Alaska candidates, Kenai voter Vickie Herrmann saw her vote as a contribution to making change on a national scale.
“I want to do everything I can to get Trump out,” Herrmann said. “I want to see how people vote — if they vote anti-Trump or not.”
Kenai voter Rebecca Anderson said she was primarily interested in the outcome of the governor’s race.
“I think the governor’s election is pretty important and I am interested in voting for Dunleavy this year,” Anderson said. “I think it’s important to always vote your conscience and to make good choices.”
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