Today is the 2020 Alaska general election! Landmine staff went through all of the races in the state as well as the two ballot initiatives. Here are our thoughts and predictions. After reading, let us know your thoughts and why you agree or disagree in the comments section.
Please join us tonight for our virtual Election Central. We will be streaming on Facebook Live, YouTube, and 106.1 KONR. We will have a panel discussing the races and results as well as interviewing candidates. Unfortunately, the Division of Elections is not going to post absentee ballot results until November 10. So it might not be clear tonight who the winners are for close races.
2020 Alaska General Election
US PRESIDENT /US VICE PRESIDENT
Rather than list all of the candidates we are just going to say that Donald Trump is going to win Alaska. Now we can move on to the other races.
Prediction: This is Dan Sullivan’s second election. When Sullivan got into the seat in 2014, politicos around the state we’re in general agreement – he would hold this seat for a long time. While Gross has been well financed and has run an aggressive campaign, his weird “Bear Doctor” ad seemed to have backfired. There were good things he did, like successfully hit Sullivan again and again with the Pebble Tape commercials. This forced Sullivan to take a very public stance against the Pebble Mine. The Sullivan campaign has done a good job pointing out Gross’ ties to the Democratic Party while he claims to be an Independent. It’s also a presidential year and Alaska is a red state. We are going with Sullivan.
SULLIVAN, DAN (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
GROSS, AL (NONPARTISAN) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
HOWE, JOHN WAYNE (ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE)ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE NOMINEE
Prediction: This is Don Young’s 25th election and Alyse Galvin’s second crack at Young. Galvin’s campaign in 2018 was basically “I’m not Don Young.” This time it has been better financed but also all over the place. Many of her ads have been strange. Like the one where she talked about all the jobs she’s had. While there were doubts going into this race because of the retirement of Young’s long time campaign manager Jerry Hood, it’s clear that Young has surrounded himself with good campaign people. Young has run a classic campaign and, like Sullivan, pointed out Galvin’s ties to the Democratic Party while she claims to be an Independent. While Don Young will not be Alaska’s lone congressman forever, we think he will for another term. We are going with Young.
GALVIN, ALYSE S. (UNDECLARED) ALASKA DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOMINEE
YOUNG, DON (REPUBLICAN) ALASKA REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINEE
BALLOT MEASURE 1 (ALASKA’S FAIR SHARE)
Prediction: Here we go again. Another oil tax ballot initiative. The difference is this time in addition to the progressive people who support it so do a lot of pro-PFD Republicans. The no side spent a lot of money, but we don’t remember the last time a $20 million campaign was less convincing. Some of their ad choices were bizarre and frankly defied logic. One of the benefits of social media is to test out messages, find out what works empirically, and then run with the message. The no campaign seemed unwilling to run a modern strategy. Choosing instead to run huge, untested ad buys on commercials that likely only resonated with the folks at their campaign headquarters. While a ton of money has been spent by the no side, a decade of blowing through our savings combined with promises of a full PFD by some, this might just be the perfect storm. While we think it will be close, but we are leaning on it passing.
BALLOT MEASURE 2 (ELECTION INITIATIVE)
Prediction: The yes side has raised millions from outside of Alaska. The no side was late to the party and raised significantly less than the yes side. This one will likely pass. If you want a deep dive on Ballot Measure 2, make sure to check out our episode of The Review.
Prediction: This one is tough. Also, we did a video profile of this race in September. Since then Eads has dropped out, although his name remains on the ballot because he withdrew after the deadline. Sanford has raised a lot of money and has a lot of support. But Myers is a Republican in a district that leans Republican. Eads will still get some votes. The question is, who does he pull from? This is still a three-way race, and they’re difficult to predict. Had this been a heads up between Myers and Sanford, the race likely would have favored Sanford. But because Evan Eads’ name is still on the ballot this is anyone’s race. We are calling this one a toss-up.
EADS, EVAN A (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
SANFORD, MARNA L. (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
MYERS, ROBERT H. JR. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: While that Stephen Wright guy, who Wilson defeated in the primary, keeps posting about his bizarre write-in campaign on Facebook, this is the Mat-Su Valley. David Wilson’s got this.
MAYFIELD, JAMES D. “DAN” (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
LAMB, THOMAS (NONPARTISAN) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
WILSON, DAVID S. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: Originally, many folks thought this race would end up being closer. Another three-way race that could’ve shaped up to be a sleeper. But Gavin Christiansen, the Libertarian petition nominee didn’t really campaign and withdrew after the deadline. He was also arrested for chasing down a guy and executing him gangland style after a fender bender in mid-October. Who knows whether that will hurt him or help him with some voters in the district. Regardless, he’ll likely syphon away votes from Jim Cooper. This is a Republican district, and without a serious third party candidate to take votes away from Hughes, this one is a no brainer. This race is Hard Hughes.
CHRISTIANSEN, GAVIN S. (LIBERTARIAN) PETITION NOMINEE
COOPER, JIM (UNDECLARED) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
HUGHES, SHELLEY (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: Gaiser has run a strange campaign and raised little money. Wielechowski is well-known in the district and works hard. Hard Wielechowski.
GAISER, MADELEINE (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
WIELECHOWSKI, BILL (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Begich is unopposed in the Downtown Anchorage district. Congrats, Tom!
BEGICH, TOM (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: As predicted, Roselynn Cacy raised little money and has run a lackluster campaign. Von Imhof has raised a ton of money. Even though she almost lost the primary to a conspiracy theorist who only raised $2,000, this is a Republican district. She will get enough votes from District 24 alone to win her the seat. Going with von Imhof.
(Editorial note from Jeff – This would have been the loosest race this cycle if Roselynn Cacy did not go fully delusional after the primary. I withdrew after the primary when Cacy decided to stay in the race when she said she would withdraw. This was the race Alaska deserved!)
VON IMHOF, NATASHA A. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
CACY, ROSELYNN (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Holleman has raised money and run a real campaign. The Democrat withdrawing also helped him. But Revak has also raised a lot of money and run a good campaign. The southern half of the district is very Republican. We are going with Revak.
HOLLEMAN, ANDY (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
REVAK, JOSHUA C. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: This is the seat where Roger Holland defeated Cathy Giessel in the primary. Recall in 2016 when Vince Beltrami ran an aggressive campaign against Giessel – and lost. While Holland has demonstrated that he does not understand or appreciate the crucial issues facing Alaska, this is a Republican district. Johnson’s message has also not seemed to resonate with voters. We are going with Holland.
CLIFT, CAROLYN C. “CARE” (UNDECLARED) PETITION NOMINEE
HOLLAND, ROGER (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
JOHNSON, CARL (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Stephens was nearly knocked off in the primary. Madden has not raised much money, and he is also running as an Alaska Independence Party candidate. Going with Gary.
STEVENS, GARY (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
MADDEN, GREG (ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE)ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE NOMINEE
Prediction: While Michael Sheldon, who Stedman defeated in the primary, is also trying a write-in, it won’t amount to much. Congrats, Bert!
STEDMAN, BERT K. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: While Baker is known in the region, it would be tough for a Republican to win in this district. Olson is well-known and well liked. We are going with Olson.
BAKER, THOMAS C. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
OLSON, DONALD C. “DONNY” (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: LeBon won this district in 2018 by one vote. He ended up joining the House Majority coalition, where he was a good team player. Regardless, Democrats are still coming for him. He has also been running to the right since the primary, which is odd for that district. While LeBon is the incumbent, we are calling this one a toss-up.
LEBON, BARTON S. “BART” (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
QUIST, CHRISTOPHER (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Thompson also had a close primary. But he is well-known and Youmans has raised little money. Going with Thompson.
THOMPSON, STEVE M. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
YOUMANS, JEREMIAH A. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Prax is running unopposed. Must be nice!
PRAX, GLENN M. “MIKE” (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: This is Hopkins’ second term. While Kurber has raised a lot of money, this is a Democratic district. Going with Grier.
KURBER, KEITH (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
HOPKINS, GRIER H. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: This is a rematch of the 2018 race. While McKinley has more name ID now, and it is a presidential election year, Wool is well-known and liked in the district. Interestingly enough, this district voted for Trump in 2016. But that year they also voted for Wool. So if the presidential race didn’t take him out then, we have a hard time imaging it would now. Wool has the power of the incumbency and good name ID. We are saying Lean Wool.
Going with Wool.
MCKINLEY, KEVIN (REPUBLICAN) ALASKA REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINEE
WOOL, ADAM L. (DEMOCRAT) ALASKA DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOMINEE
Prediction: This is a real weird one. Verhagen is competing for Republican votes with Cronk. Hnilicka, the Democrat, would normally have no chance in this district. But with the weird 5-way dynamic she does have a chance. It all comes down to turnout. If Hnilicka gets 40% she will win. It really comes down to how many votes Cronk and Verhagen get. Team Landmine went back and forth on this one. Because Cronk is the Republican candidate in a Republican district, he has an edge. We are going ever so slightly Lean Cronk.
VERHAGEN, ELIJAH M. (UNDECLARED) PETITION NOMINEE
CARLSON, VERNON J. (NONPARTISAN) PETITION NOMINEE
RILEY, DEBORAH W. (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
CRONK, MIKE (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
HNILICKA, JULIA A. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: This is Wasilla after all. Hard Kurka. Juneau is about to get loose.
BURTON, JAMIN L. (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
KURKA, CHRISTOPHER (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: McCabe beat Mark Neuman in the primary. This is Big Lake. Going with McCabe.
MCCABE, KEVIN J. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
HARTLEY, ALMA N. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Going with Rauscher. Keep it rock solid, George!
RAUSCHER, GEORGE (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
JOHNSON, BILL (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
Prediction: We all know.
EASTMAN, DAVID (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
STEIN-OLSON, MONICA L. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Not even sure who this Democrat is. Hard Johnson (wait, what?)
JOHNSON, DELENA (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
HACKBARTH, ANDREA L. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Tilton is unopposed. Congrats!
TILTON, CATHY L. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: McCarty defeated Sharon Jackson in the primary. This is Eagle River and Chugiak. Going with McCarty.
MCCARTY, KEN (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
CANITZ, JAMES A. SR. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Kelly Merrick ran a solid race even while being unopposed in the primary. She continued to do things like put out signs and videos despite her opponent not doing much. This is a no brainer. Hard Merrick.
RISINGER, MICHAEL W. “MIKE” (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
MERRICK, KELLY R. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: This is another strange race. Nelson defeated Gabrielle LeDoux in the primary. Franks has run before. Nelson is young and his youth showed when he gave some strange debate answers. But the district does lean Republican. Also, third party groups have been spending money on both sides. Tough to call but saying lean Nelson.
NELSON, DAVID (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
FRANKS, LYN D. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: A strong candidate probably could have given Spohnholz a challenge. She frankly deserved it after the grenade she threw in Juneau when she made totally unsubstantiated me too accusations on the House floor about a former judge and nominee to the Board of Fish. But Bauer and Kohlhass aren’t gonna do it. Spohnholz will win.
KOHLHAAS, SCOTT A. (LIBERTARIAN) PETITION NOMINEE
BAUER, PAUL A. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
SPOHNHOLZ, IVY A. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Another unopposed candidate. Some people are just lucky. Congrats!
JOSEPHSON, ANDREW L. “ANDY” (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Also unopposed.
DRUMMOND, HARRIET A. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: And another unopposed.
TARR, GERAN (DEMOCRAT)DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Let’s keep it going. Four unopposed Democrats in a row!
FIELDS, WILLIAM Z. “ZACK” (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Largent has raised no money. Although it was funny when she photoshopped a pussy hat on Claman. Hard Claman.
LARGENT, LYNETTE A. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
CLAMAN, MATT (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Normally incumbent Rasmussen would not have a problem in this district. But Nees running as an Alaska Independence Party candidate throws in a wrench. In 2016 when Independent Jason Grenn beat Republican Liz Vazquez, Dustin Darden was an AIP candidate on the ballot, which helped Grenn. Rasmussen has run a good campaign and raised a lot of money. But Trimble has also raised money and gone after Rasmussen. Both also have third party support. The question here, and the number we’re all watching, is how many votes Nees takes away from Rasmussen? If he gets more than 6%, it would be easy to see how Trimble could take the seat. While the three-way makes this hard to predict, we are going Lean Rasmussen.
TRIMBLE, STEPHEN T. (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
RASMUSSEN, SARA E. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
NEES, DAVID W. (ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE) ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE NOMINE
Prediction: Tuck always seems to pull it off. Also, Tim Huit being on the ballot as AIP helps Tuck. Henslee has run a campaign but Tuck seems to have the magic in 23. Going with Tuck.
HENSLEE, KATHERINE J “KATHY” (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
TUCK, CHRIS S. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
HUIT, TIMOTHY R. (ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE)ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE PRIMARY
Prediction: This is a real Republican district. Hard McKay.
MCKAY, THOMAS W. “TOM” (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
LEVI, SUE (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: This is one of the hardest races to call this cycle. Mel Gillis was appointed to the seat late last year after Josh Revak was appointed to the Senate following the passing of Chris Birch. While Gillis is a hilarious and great guy one-on-one, sometimes his personal charm is hard to translate to a broad audience. Gillis also didn’t have a lot of time in Juneau to introduce himself to voters. So while he’s the incumbent in this race, it’s not much of an advantage. This district has been close to flipping blue for a long time, but we’re not sure Schrage is the guy who can do it. A strong candidate would have made this seat lean Democrat. But given that Schrage’s campaign tactics felt overly homespun and campy, he does not seem like the strong candidate the Democrats were hoping for. We’re calling this one a toss-up. (Jeff Landfield is running Gillis’ campaign and did not contribute to this prediction)
GILLIS, MEL (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
SCHRAGE, CALVIN R. (NONPARTISAN) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Finally, a Republican who is unopposed. Congrats, Laddie!
SHAW, LADDIE H. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: This is also a rematch from 2018. This is by by far the most expensive race this cycle. The Democrats want Pruitt gone. Six months ago Snyder seemed like a shoo-in. But even though she has raised a ton of money, her campaign has not hit where it should have. Pruitt is a hard campaigner and always seems to somehow pull it off. This one is hard to call but likely comes down to one thing. Pruitt knocked doors and Snyder didn’t. Pruitt is a disciplined door knocker. He has been knocking these doors for years, and has made a real effort. Had people’s anxieties about COVID remained as high as they were in March, her strategy of refusing to do traditional face-to-face campaigning would probably have been a good move. But people can’t hide forever. We are going with slightly Lean Pruitt.
PRUITT, LANCE D. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
SNYDER, LIZ (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: While LaFrance is really working hard for this seat, this is a Republican district. Plus, Kaufman has also been working very hard. Going with Kaufman.
FLETCHER, BENJAMIN R. (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
KAUFMAN, JAMES D. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
LAFRANCE, SUZANNE M. (NONPARTISAN) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Hard Carpenter.
DALE, PAUL D. (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
CARPENTER, BENJAMIN E. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: This is a tough one. Both are Republicans but Baisden is running as a petition. Gillham nearly beat Peter Micciche in the 2018 primary. He seems to really only care about a full PFD. It will probably be close. Lean Gillham.
BAISDEN, JAMES (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
GILLHAM, RONALD D. “RON” (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: This district has an interesting make up. While many of the smaller communities along the Peninsula are very red, Homer is usually not (excluding their recent mayoral election). We heard reports going into this race that Vance’s polling numbers were not looking good. Remember, this used to be Paul Seaton’s seat. From looking at the materials she put out, and the style of campaigning she’s been doing, it’s likely Vance didn’t do enough to overcome those bad numbers going into this race. Both sides have had third party support. Cooper spent two terms on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. At the end of the day we’re thinking this might be an upset for the Republicans that many people would not have expected. Calling this one a toss-up
COOPER, KELLY (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
VANCE, SARAH L. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: Unopposed. How does she do it? Congrate, Louise!
STUTES, LOUISE B. (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: Go Sara, it’s your birthday!
HANNAN, SARA (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: While King has done his best to mount a campaign, Story is the incumbent and is well funded. Going with Story.
KING, EDWARD M. “ED” (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
STORY, ANDREA “ANDI” (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Hard JKT.
SKAFLESTAD, KENNY (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
KREISS-TOMKINS, JONATHAN S. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Becker has put like $50,000 of her own money into this race. But she has had some weird campaign gaffs. Ortiz is well-known in the district. He keeps beating Republicans. Going with Ortiz.
ORTIZ, DANIEL H. “DAN” (NONPARTISAN) PETITION NOMINEE
BECKER, LESLIE (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
Prediction: The Speaker of the House is unopposed. Congrats, Mr. Speaker!
EDGMON, BRYCE (UNDECLARED) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: Veteran’s Party. That’s not something you see too often. Hard Zulkosky.
KEPPEL, WILLY (VETERAN’S PARTY) PETITION NOMINEE
ZULKOSKY, TIFFANY (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: While Foster had a close primary, he should have no problem in the general. Going with Foster.
HOLMES, DAN (REPUBLICAN) REPUBLICAN NOMINEE
FOSTER, NEAL W. (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Prediction: This is an interesting race. John Lincoln is not running for reelection. Ferguson used to work for him. Josiah Patkotak comes from a well-known family. Both have run real campaigns. However, Lincoln endorsed Ferguson. While Ferguson doesn’t have the same name ID that Lincoln does, she has worked hard and raised a decent amount of money for a candidate in the region. Her opponent seems to have decimated on social media. In fact, he’s gotten more engagement on his campaign material than any other House or Senate candidate in the state. But that didn’t start until the last month. Ferguson has been working longer and raised more money. Also, this has been a solid Democrat district for a long time.
This race comes down to two things: How effective is social media (in that region)? Who turns out the villages?
Ferguson should have a strong advantage in Kotzebue. Patkotak should have a strong advantage in Utqiagvik and Browerville. A NANA shareholder versus an ASRC shareholder. And the region’s votes will likely fall along some of those lines. It will be interesting to see if Lincoln’s endorsement of Ferguson carried her name out to other villages including Selawik or Buckland. After talking to many people in the region, we are calling this one a toss-up. But, money and work often wins races. Ferguson might pull this off. We expect this election to be one of the closest, and a nail biter until the end.
PATKOTAK, JOSIAH “AULLAQSRUAQ” (NON-AFFILIATED) PETITION NOMINEE
FERGUSON, ELIZABETH (DEMOCRAT) DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
Cale Green and Paxson Woelber worked on several of these races providing video production and graphic design services.