Who Will Replace Bill Stoltze?

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Senate Seat F (Palmer/Chugiak/Fairview)

Republican Primary

The seat bridges the area between Chugiak and the Palmer-Wasilla area. It is an open seat by virtue of Sen. Bill Stoltze’s retirement.

Current Palmer Rep. Shelley Hughes is facing relative newcomer Adam Crum and Conservative Patriots Group alumnus Steve St. Clair.2013-Proclamation-MatSu

Hughes has represented the northern half of this senate district in the house since 2012, so in evaluating this race we view Hughes as the de-facto incumbent. Her list of endorsements looks like that of an incumbent including: NRA, Gov. Sean Parnell, Lt. Gov Loren Leman, Sen. Fred Dyson, Mayor Larry Devilbiss, Assemblywoman Amy Demboski, and campaign donations from Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, Alaska GOP staffer Suzanne Downing, and Lisa Murkowski Campaign Manager Steve Wackowski.

If Hughes is the incumbent then Crum and St. Clair are fighting to be the top challenger. It is clearly Crum. St. Clair is a fringe right-wing candidate with little fundraising. He is probably good for 10 points in the primary, but not much more.

Crum, on the other hand, does have the look of a serious candidate. He is a young and energetic business-minded type who helped build the family company, Northern Industrial Training. Crum has raised twice as much money ($40K) as Hughes and appears to have the support of outgoing Sen. Bill Stolze. He is also the beneficiary of a small independent expenditure of $3K in mailers from the hunting advocacy group Alaska Outdoor Council.

If we were to give out race ratings based simply on well-run campaigns, we would give this one to Crum. But just running a campaign well doesn’t get you elected. Name recognition, voter familiarity, political connections, and establishment support all matter and it appear Hughes has them. With Crum and St. Clair splitting the anti-incumbent vote, our bet her is that Hughes wins.

Republican Primary Rating: Lean Hughes

***Note: Race ratings are given on a patent-pending scale of Toss-up, Lean, Likely, Solid.***