Tuesday ushers in the election season in earnest in Alaska with the primary election for state and national offices.
Voters registered in one of Alaska’s official political parties get to cast their first ballot of the season Tuesday. On the Kenai Peninsula, the major races are for the three districts in the state House of Representatives and Senate, lieutenant governor, governor and for Alaska’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
For Democrats, there’s only one candidate on the ballot — Mark Begich. After Begich entered the race just before the registration deadline, incumbent governor Bill Walker withdrew from the Democratic primary and chose to run in the general as an Independent on a joint ticket with incumbent lieutenant governor Byron Mallott.
Republicans have a choice of seven candidates for governor — Darin Colbry of Anchorage, Mike Dunleavy of Wasilla, Thomas Gordon of Wasilla, Gerald Heikes of Palmer, Merica Hlatcu of Anchorage, Michael Sheldon of Petersburg and Mead Treadwell of Anchorage. Treadwell and Dunleavy have emerged as the leaders in the Republican race, vying for votes on the peninsula with appearances at most of the major summer events on the Kenai Peninsula and both earning support the area’s Republicans.
The peninsula could go either way, and the candidates have put in a lot of face time to win votes in the area, said Alaska Republican Party chairman Tuckerman Babcock.
“I think there’s not going to be a very tight race here for Begich, but I think it could be a very tight race for the Republicans.”
Dunleavy’s campaign has been gathering support across Southcentral in the days leading up to the race. Voters remain focused on crime and the Permanent Fund Dividend as major issues, said Kristie Babcock, the co-chair for Dunleavy’s campaign in the state.
Democrats again have one choice for the lieutenant governor’s seat in the primary — Debra Call of Anchorage.
Republicans have multiple choices, a number of them women: Lynn Gattis of Wasilla, Edie Grunwald of Palmer, Sharon Jackson of Eagle River, Kevin Meyer of Anchorage, Gary Stevens of Kodiak and Stephen Wright of Wasilla.
Neither Dunleavy nor Treadwell has formally identified a lieutenant governor runningmate yet. Sheldon, another Republican gubernatorial candidate, has identified Wright as a runningmate.
In the sole race where they have multiple candidates on the ballot, Democrats will choose between four candidates for their favorite to run against incumbent Rep. Don Young: Dimitri Shein of Anchorage, Alyse Galvin of Anchorage, Christopher Cumings of Ketchikan and Carol Hafner of Box Elder, South Dakota. Galvin and Shein have emerged as the leaders in the race, though Galvin is technically an undeclared candidate running in the Democratic primary.
Republicans have three candidates: Young, John Nelson of Chugiak and Jed Whittaker of Anchorage. Young has served in office for 43 consecutive years and is currently the longest-serving member of the House.
In House District 29, Republicans will choose between Wayne Ogle and Ben Carpenter, both of Nikiski. Democrats have a single candidate, Shawn Butler of Hope. The winner of the general election will replace outgoing representative Mike Chenault, who had thrown his hat in the ring for the gubernatorial race but withdrew for personal reasons before the filing deadline.
In District 30, incumbent Republican representative Gary Knopp is the sole candidate.
In District 31, incumbent Paul Seaton is running a nonpartisan candidate in the Democratic primary. Seaton has identified and run as a Republican since 2002, but the party ousted him after he joined the bipartisan House Majority Caucus in 2016, taking control of the House away from Republicans.
Republicans will choose between three primary candidates in the southern peninsula district: Sarah Vance of Homer, John Cox of Anchor Point and Henry Kroll of Anchor Point.
Central Kenai Peninsula Republicans will also have a choice of two Republicans for Senate District O: incumbent Peter Micciche and challenger Ron Gillham, both of Soldotna. Because there are no other candidates, the winner of the primary will effectively win the race.
Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Find Kenai Peninsula polling locations on the Alaska Division of Elections’ website.
Reach Elizabeth Earl at firstname.lastname@example.org.