Alaskans Are waking up to election results Wednesday morning, and while results of state’s general election and the U.S. midterm election are still unofficial, the big winners appear to be Bill Walker, Dan Sullivan and marijuana.
With 100 percent of Alaska’s 441 precincts reporting in, the hotly contested governor’s race has the unaffiliated “unity ticket” of Bill Walker and Byron Mallott holding a slim lead over the reelection bid of Sean Parnell and his running mate, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan. The two are separated by just 3,100 votes — slightly more than 1 percent of the vote. The Libertarian ticket of Carolyn Clift and Andrew C. Lee has 3 percent of the vote.
If Walker and Mallott maintain their lead, they would make history as the first unaffiliated ticket to take the governorship in state history.
In the race for U.S. Senate, Republican Dan Sullivan appears to heave unseated incumbent Democrat Mark Begich, with the former Alaska Attorney General ahead by about 8,000 votes — pulling 48.74 percent of votes to Begich’s to 45.13 percent. Libertarian candidate Mark Fish has 3.7 percent of votes. Begich has not conceded as of this morning.
The Senate race was the costliest campaign in the state’s history, with more than 50 million dollars spent by the two major candidates and their supporters.
Republican Don Young holds a substantive lead over Democrat Forrest Dunbar in the race of U.S. House. Young has just over 51 percent of the vote to Dunbar’s 40.4 percent, a spread of about 25,000 votes. Young’s last challenger for the U.S. House, 2008 Democratic challenger Sharon Cissna, took just 28 percent of the vote that year. Other candidates in the race include Libertarian candidate Jim McDermott, who has 7.5 percent of the vote.
For the three ballot measures so far, it’s a narrow “yes” win on Ballot Measure 2, with fewer than 10 thousand votes in favor of legalizing the use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana in the state for adults over age 21.
Ballot Measure 3 would increase Alaska’s minimum wage (currently $7.75/hour) by one dollar per year for the next two years and then adjust the wage to account for inflation. A vote of “yes” to increase the minimum wage is in the lead with 68.8 percent while the “no” vote is trailing behind at 31.2 percent.
And Ballot Measure 4, which would require large-scale mining development in Bristol Bay to seek the state legislature’s approval, is also seeing a notable split. The “yes” vote is leading at 65.3 percent, and the vote “no” against this legislative approval is at 34.7 percent.
Many of the races for state House and Senate saw rural Democrats run unopposed in their bids for reelection.
In House District 39, Neal Foster is almost assured of another term, taking 97.9 percent of votes in the district that makes up the bulk of the Bering Strait/Norton Sound region. Unopposed for his house seat, write-in candidates took about 2 percent of the vote.
In the state Senate, Donny Olson likewise saw reelection, taking 97.9 percent of the votes in a an area that covers House District 39 as well as the massive North Slope (House District 40). Write-ins just over 2 percent in Olson’s bid for reelection, which was also unopposed.
Elsewhere in northwest Alaska, Barrow’s Ben Nageak, a Democrat also running unopposed for another term in the state House for House District 40, is likewise nearly assured of reelection with 97.2 percent of the vote.
In Southwest Alaska, Senator Lyman Hoffman was another Democrat that ran unopposed in his reelection bid, which he won handily, collecting 96.2 percent of the vote in Senate District S. Likewise, Rep. Bob Herron is also assured of reelection, with the Bethel democrat taking 97 percent of votes in his uncontested reelection bid.
In Nome, the Old St. Joe’s polling station closed with 955 ballots cast, a number that does not include early and absentee voters, nor voters who cast a ballot at the state’s elections office on Front Street.
Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said, as of Monday, 20,577 early votes were cast. The Division of Elections has received “over 30,000” absentee ballots statewide, she added.
Fenumiai said more than 19,000 early ballots, and an additional 10,000 absentee ballots were counted last night. She said early votes from the Bering Strait/Norton Sound region (House District 39) are among those early votes.
The remainder of early and absentee ballots will be counted, she stressed, but safeguards to ensure the vote integrity are delaying their count until other precincts report in to avoid, among other issues, double voting.
Results are still unofficial, as are estimates of voter turnout — which as of this morning lie somewhere around 45 percent.
KNOM’s Jenn Ruckel, Francesca Fenzi, and David Dodman contributed to this story.