Murkowski easily defeats challengers in Alaska GOP primary

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Wednesday, August 17, 2016 12:41am
  • News

ANCHORAGE — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski handily defeated her Republican challengers Tuesday to win her party’s primary and advance to the November general election.

Despite facing a field of little-known challengers, Murkowski — still smarting from a 2010 primary loss to tea party upstart Joe Miller — took nothing for granted this go-round, building a huge fundraising edge over her newer entrant opponents, traveling the state and peppering the airwaves with ads. Murkowski held onto her seat in 2010 by mounting a general election write-in campaign supported by Alaskans across the political spectrum.

On the Democratic side, former state legislator and anti-corruption crusader Ray Metcalfe held an early lead over University of Alaska Anchorage professor Edgar Blatchford.

Metcalfe has butted heads with leaders of his party. Asked if he would consider leaving the party, Metcalfe said he has problems with the party’s leadership but not its issues.

Metcalfe supported Bernie Sanders in Sanders’ unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Metcalfe says he regretted not jumping into the 2010 Senate race, in which Murkowski lost her party primary and wound up running as a write-in candidate to keep her job.

A number of independents vying to make the general election ballot are expected to be waiting in the wings, the most prominent among them being Margaret Stock, a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” winner for her work on immigration issues. Independents don’t have to go through the primary process.

Murkowski, a moderate Republican, has cast herself as a pragmatist willing to work across party lines to get things done. She is chair of the Senate energy committee, a post with significance for Alaska, and touts her willingness to take a serious, measured approach to issues.

On Tuesday, Anchorage voter Phil Cannon chose to send Murkowski back to Washington. Cannon, who is registered as an independent, said Murkowski has done good things for Alaska Natives, which is important to him because there are Alaska Natives in his family.

Another Anchorage resident, Republican Ken Owens, voted for Libertarian Cean Stevens. Owens, 70, said he can’t go along with Murkowski, who he believes is too closely aligned with President Barack Obama and Democrats.

“She’s just a bold-faced RINO as far as I’m concerned, a Republican in name only,” Owens said.

Voting at Kincaid Elementary School in southwest Anchorage, Boyd Smallwood said Murkowski stands up for Alaskans.

Murkowski’s lack of a decision on whether to endorse Donald Trump was not a consideration for him.

“It didn’t bother me one bit,” Smallwood said. “She’s going to do it anyway. If she doesn’t, she’ll probably lose next time around.”

Blatchford argued that Alaska squandered an opportunity to work with a president who expressed interest in the state and said Murkowski has put her party first. Metcalfe, meanwhile, was hoping to shake up a state Democratic Party that he believes has lost its way.

Frank Box, also voting at Kincaid Elementary, said Alaskans owe Metcalfe a debt of gratitude for being a muckraker.

“He’s a local guy who’s really done his best to expose corruption, and we need more of that exposed, not just in this state, but I think that’s a problem nationwide,” Box said.

Earlier this year, Democrats proposed allowing independents to run in their party primary, an idea that Stock flirted with partly as a way to avoid the time and expense of gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot. She even addressed Democrats at one of their presidential caucus sites in March.

A judge dismissed a party lawsuit seeking to let independents into the primary as premature since the proposal wouldn’t be final until at least May. Given the proximity to the candidate filing deadline, the party didn’t press the issue further.

Associated Press writer Rachel D’Oro contributed to this report in Anchorage, Alaska.

More in News

From right, Soldotna City Council members Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, Dan Nelson and Jordan Chilson listen to testimony during a council meeting on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Council to mull limits on use of Soldotna ADUs as short-term rentals

Accessory dwelling units refer to subordinate, detached units

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Wildlife Troopers and CES rescue hunter missing for 12 hours

State troopers were notified around 6 p.m. Wednesday that the hunter hadn’t returned

The Alaska State Capitol awaits a legislators forming new majority coalitions and the return of Gov. Mike Dunleavy after the winners of the general election were announced Wednesday. The Senate will have a 17-member bipartisan ruling coalition, while the House arrangement remains uncertain due to at least one likely recount and questions about partisan alignments. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Bipartisan majority formed for new state Senate

Eight Republicans join nine Democrats after many years of Republican rule

Dr. Michael Reyes manipulates ROSA during a demonstration at Central Peninsula Hospital on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Knee surgeries get assist from robot arms

Robotic Surgical Assistant, called ROSA, is a new addition to CPH and the first in Alaska

During a hearing at the Juneau Courthouse, 34-year-old Anthony Michael Migliaccio pleaded not guilty after he was arrested on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of a 55-year-old Juneau woman. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Man arrested in Juneau killing pleads not guilty

News follows a two-month investigation.

Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank presents during a budget work session on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai tries again to fill city manager position

After 1st round of negotiations fall through, Kenai to pursue Eubank for role

Soldotna Montessori Charter School kindergartners parade with balloons around the school playground on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Balloons on parade

Montessori kids put spin on traditional Macy’s parade

Most Read