Group of Alaska Democrats endorse independent in Senate race

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Thursday, September 29, 2016 9:55pm
  • News

JUNEAU, Alaska — Democrats in one part of Alaska have endorsed an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, bucking their party’s own nominee.

The Interior Democrats, which represent the Fairbanks area and a swath of interior Alaska, voted Wednesday night to endorse independent Margaret Stock over the Democratic nominee, Ray Metcalfe.

The Alaska Democratic Party remains committed to Metcalfe, party spokesman Jake Hamburg said Thursday.

The Interior Democrats will not face sanctions because they have the authority to make endorsements, Hamburg said.

Larry Murakami, a state party vice-chair and Interior Democrats member, said he was among those who supported backing Stock, expressing concern that Metcalfe would not mount a vigorous campaign. But he said the decision wasn’t unanimous.

Metcalfe said he’s raising as much money as possible. “I’m not promising anybody anything but good, honest, ethical government,” said Metcalfe, who is an anticorruption activist. The other main candidates in the race are incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski and Libertarian Joe Miller.

Recently, several Republican party officers resigned their posts so they could publicly back Miller.

Miller upset Murkowski in the 2010 GOP primary only to see her wage a successful general election write-in campaign to keep her job. Miller changed his party affiliation to Libertarian for this year’s election.

An email from party chairwoman Casey Steinau that highlighted Democratic candidates after the primary did not mention Metcalfe, although it did acknowledge some candidates who lost their races.

Hamburg, however, said Steinau is “100 percent behind Ray.”

Metcalfe, who has fought with party leaders over the direction of the party, is included in the candidate list on the party’s website.

Hamburg said the party has invited Metcalfe to participate in its coordinated campaign, which provides access to voter information and other services. Metcalfe has declined.

Metcalfe said he has experience running campaigns and does not need the services offered.

Stock agreed to participate in the coordinated campaign before the primary, Hamburg said.

Stock appreciates those who support her mission to work across party lines, said spokeswoman Amy Jackman.

“We look forward to support from Democrats, independents, Libertarians and Republicans, and we are welcoming endorsements from all sources,” Jackman said.

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