Our Anchorage Election Predictions

 

It’s election day in Anchorage and the polls are now open, so get up off your rear end and go vote. Wait, what am I saying? You’re the politically sophisticated and engaged type, otherwise, you wouldn’t be a reading The Midnight Sun.

Since you’ve already done your civic duty, sit back and enjoy us telling you who is going to win 12 full hours before the “lamestream media” finally gets around to reporting “official” results.

 

Assembly

 

Downtown (open seat)

Candidates: Chris Constant, Chris Cox, David Dunsmore, Mark Alan Martinson, Albert Langdon Swank Jr., Warren West

Downtown Anchorage is the only solidly progressive district on the Anchorage Assembly, so it logically follows that either Constant or fellow Dem insider David Dunsmore should win. Constant has run a more active campaign, raised many times as much money, and sports endorsements from Mark Begich, Ethan Berkowitz, and most other Dem standard bearers.

Just in the last few days Dunsmore looks to have torpedoed what little Dem establishment support he had by sending out an inflammatory mailer accusing Constant of being a closeted Republican.

The only real question left in this race is whether Constant and Dunsmore will split the vote enough for GOP favorite Chris Cox to sweep in and steal the seat out from under the Dems.

Cox hasn’t been active enough for me to see that as likely.

Winner: Chris Constant

My Confidence Level: High

 

Chugiak-Eagle River (open seat)

Candidates: John Laurence Brassell, Fred Dyson, Gretchen Wehmhoff, Patrick Donnelly

This is the converse of the Downtown race. You have two conservatives, John Brassell and Fred Dyson, and a lefty in Gretchen Wehmhoff running in the most conservative Assembly district.

Fred Dyson has way more name recognition than any of his opponents by virtue of his long service on both the Anchorage Assembly and the state legislature. That track record of service and his support from uber-con Assemblywoman Amy Demboski, including a radio ad she agreed to voice, has allowed Dyson to easily lay claim to the mantle of “the real conservative in the race.”

Name recognition and conservative street cred are all one needs to win in this district. Dyson has both.

Dems are making some noise that Wehmhoff has a shot because Brassell and Dyson are splitting the conservative vote. Unfortunately, she has only raised a paltry $13K, so it’s hard to see a lefty uprising here. Wehmhoff has about the same chance in this district Cox does Downtown, which is to say not much.

Winner: Fred Dyson

My Confidence Level: Somewhat Strong

 

West Anchorage Tim Steele (incumbent)

Candidates: Tim Steele, David Nees

This is one of those cases where as a political prognosticator I’m in a bind. Neither Tim Steele or his challenger David Nees looks to have done enough to win. Neither of them raised more than $15K, though Steele outraised Nees $14K to $5K.  My fiancée and I live in the district, and neither of us has received a mailer or a knock on the door from either campaign. I really wonder if either of these guys really wants to be on the Assembly.

Tim Steele is the incumbent and the West Anchorage Assembly district has become more left-leaning over time, so I give him the nod, but an upset isn’t out of the question.

Winner (by default): Tim Steele

My Confidence Level: Eh, whatever

 

Midtown (open seat)

Candidates: Ron Alleva, Felix Rivera, Marcus Sanders, Don Smith

By all standards by which political professionals judge campaigns (other than winning), this race should be Felix Rivera’s to lose. He has dramatically outraised each of his opponents, has unified backing of the Dem establishment, and has by far the best organized and most active campaign.

Rivera’s two main opponents, Marcus Sanders and Don Smith, both seem to be angling for the conservative vote. Don Smith is a longtime fixture in conservative Anchorage politics and continues to run on his “I’m the father of the tax cap” mantra. Just this week, Sanders picked up the endorsement of the leading social conservative validator, The Alaska Family Council.

That all spells bad news for Smith and Sanders. This has become a left-leaning district in local elections so for righties to win it they need to unify behind one good candidate. Instead, they have two not particularly great candidates and are dividing loyalties between them.

Winner: Felix Rivera

My Confidence Level: Pretty Strong

 

East Anchorage Pete Petersen (incumbent)

Candidates: Pete Petersen, Don Jones

Incumbent lefty Pete Petersen has been running an active campaign and has outraised his righty challenger Don Jones more than 2-1. Given that he’s the incumbent and this district has trended to the left recently, that would usually be enough to win.

There are danger signs for Petersen here. First off, the district has a history of bouncing Assembly members after their first term in office. In fact, Petersen beat Adam Trombley after his first term, who beat Mike Gutierrez after his first term, who beat Paul Bauer after his first term, who beat Brian Whittle after his first term. So Don Jones knocking off Petersen would be more the rule than the exception.

Second, there is little evidence of Petersen’s district having a great affection for him. He lost a narrow race for re-election to the State House to Rep. Lance Pruitt in 2012 and only won this seat on the Assembly with 42% of the vote three years ago.

Third, Don Jones is a good candidate. He hasn’t raised a lot of money and doesn’t demonstrate a full grasp of Muni functions or public policy issues in general, but he does demonstrate a homespun charm, humility, and a genuine concern for the community that’s allowed him to connect easily with voters. I think he probably did very, very well in his door-to-door work.

I’m going to say Petersen wins this one, but that’s only because I don’t think voters have cared enough about this election to really dig in. In reality, this is biggest toss-up race of this election.

Winner: Pete Petersen

My Confidence Level: Shoulder shrug

 

South Anchorage (open seat)

Candidates: Albert Fogle, Suzanne LaFrance

Finally, an easy race to predict. Albert Fogle is the conservative in the race, he’s naturally likable, and this is a conservative-leaning district. Case closed.

Dems are talking a lot about LaFrance’s chances, but it’s just that, all talk.

Winner: Albert Fogle

My Confidence Level: Pretty Strong

 

School Board

 

Seat C

Candidates: Dave Donley, Alisha Hilde, Tasha Hotch, Christopher Jamison, James Smallwood

Seat D

Candidates: Albert Berke, Andy Holleman, Kay Schuster

School board seats are impossible to predict. The races are nonpartisan, elected citywide, and the candidates don’t raise enough money to get to really define themselves and their opponents. That makes these races a true crapshoot.

I’m going to pick James Smallwood and Kay Schuster as the winners simply because I like their materials best. What, you don’t like that analysis? Do you really think the average voter is going deeper than that on school board races? Ha, you are adorable.

Ballot Propositions

Proposition 1: Yes

Proposition 2: Yes, but it could be very close. Several former Mayors have come out against this bond, but the title on the ballot says “Areawide Emergency Medical and Public Safety.” I think most voters will see that and still say “Yes.”

Proposition 3: Yes

Proposition 4: Yes

Proposition 5: Yes

Proposition 6: Yes

Proposition 7: Yes

Proposition 8: No. This is the effort by BIG CAB to repeal the Assembly’s move to expand the number of taxi permits the city issues. The prop itself is insanely complicated and impossible for average folks like me to understand when they are in the voting booth. When voters are confused they generally vote “No.”

That and the fact that some people have taken the Assembly’s move as a precursor to letting Uber and Lyft into Anchorage means I think this thing goes down. I expect it to be close, though.

There you have it, the definitive guide to how the elections will come out. Go ahead and go vote, if you feel like engaging in some quixotic, Terminator-saga style effort to change the future.

  • akbatgirly

    I was happy to help throw a monkey wrench into your “easy” prediction of the South Anchorage assembly race. I can’t rub it in too badly though, as I am just as surprised as you with the results. Maybe the Hillside isn’t as hardcore conservative as it once was? Or maybe, the “Trump Effect” is trickling down even farther than we thought.

  • ChopperBob

    Well done Casey. Pretty close on your predictions– as usual. Fogle /LaFrance was the obvious shocker. Time for some Red Team deep introspection on this one

    Prop 2 was much easier to tip over than I thought. With such a late start on our organized opposition I thought it would be much closer. Rick Mystrom is very persuasive. Based on the other bond measures and the early vote count, I’m guessing we pulled off a 10-14 point swing with 5 days of radio.

    School Board was much easier to predict for those (like me) who follow this stuff. It’s a 90% name recognition race. Only 3 people in both seats with ANY name recognition. Both of those seats are pretty much where we thought they would be. Dave D was a slam dunk in such a crowed field. Alisha Hilde was a big over-perform; no money, experience, endorsements came pretty close to Smallwood. Good candidate. Hope we see her again with more backing.

    Very slight statistical edge to Andy right now. Kay will gain ground with a very aggressive absentee chase this time. She’s not making that mistake again. We’ll know in a couple weeks.