The deadline for candidates to file for office isn’t until June 1, but here are some of the State races that are already drawing our attention.
State Senate Seat B – Fairbanks
Some political insiders are already calling this the battle for the soul of Fairbanks. The race pits uber conservative incumbent Senator John Coghill against the now lo
ud and proud Democrat, former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins.
Aside from having two high-profile candidates, this race is interesting because of the Senate district itself. It is made up of a House district to the west that includes some of Fairbanks’ most liberal precincts (Ester, College, Goldstream) and its eastern half is made up of a North Pole House district that is one of the most solidly conservative in the state.
Don’t expect a lot of veying for undecided voters in this race. As Meghan Trainor would say “It’s all about the base.”
State Senate Seat D – Western Mat-Su
Rumors continue to mount that incumbent Senator Charlie Huggins won’t be running again, preferring instead to set his sights on the Governor’s race in two years.
He currently has a little-known primary challenger in David Wilson, and we also know that folks are asking Butch Moore to challenge him as well. If Huggins really doesn’t run, expect Wasilla House Rep. Lynn Gattis to move up and run for this seat. That would, of course open her seat for multiple newbies to run.
State Senate Seat J – Downtown Anchorage
It is becoming clear that health challenges are leading incumbent Senator Johnny Ellis to step off stage after a long and storied career. That realization has led to a flood of Democrats looking to run in one of the most solidly liberal districts in the state.
If a Democratic fight breaks out to replace Johnny Ellis, we will grab the popcorn and some front-row seats. Patrick Flynn’s Assembly district is almost an exact match of the Ellis Senate district, and he has represented those folks for the past 8+ years.
Tom Begich has the best Democratic last name in Alaska politics, and he has helped lots and lots of Democrats over the years. He’ll have a huge advantage with political insiders, but has never faced the voters.
Representative Geran Tarr, who says she isn’t running, is likely the strongest candidate. An incumbent who represents half the district already in the State House would be the lone female against two white guys. She could win the primary and get an easy election in the General.
State Senate Seat F – Palmer-Chugiak
Incumbent Sen. Bill Stoltze announced a few weeks ago that he wouldn’t be running. Palmer Rep. Shelley Hughes has decided to take a shot at his seat and is joined in the primary by newcomer Adam Crum and Alaska Republican Assembly (The Republican Wing of the Republican Party) activist Stephen St. Clair.
The race should be a lively debate of conservative and budget issues, but given that it’s a three-way race and Hughes is the default incumbent, she would seem to have an edge going into the race.
State Senate District L – Southwest Anchorage
The drama runs thick in this race. Incumbent Senator Lesil McGuire announced months ago she wasn’t running which has led to competitive races in both the R and D primaries.
On the Republican side, former school board member Natasha Von Imhof is facing off with unavoidable-on-the-internet Jeff Landfield. (Just google him)
On the Democratic side, there is longtime political activist Roselynn Cacy taking on the young Forrest Mcdonald who has the fortune/misfortune of sharing a first name with popular Democrat Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar.
Then there is Democrat Rep. Chris Tuck. He represents the northern half of the district in the House. Tuck or Tuck’s friends appear to have polled this race to see if he should jump in too
Evaluating this race can’t really be done until we know if longtime House Leadership Consigliere Craig Johnson, who already represents half the district, makes a decision if he wants to run for his current House seat or this Senate seat. Whichever he chooses, he will immediately become the odds on favorite.