Now that this year’s Municipal elections have been put to bed, let’s take a quick look at how next year’s races could shape up.
In East Anchorage people expect Terre Gales will run again, this time against incumbent Pete Peterson whose term will be up next year. I would expect that as well and I’d expect Gales to give Peterson quite a run for his money.
Anchorage progressives are probably rolling their eyes and smirking at that considering Gales only received 39% of the vote. Two things to consider, Peterson is no Forrest Dunbar and I wouldn’t expect Gales to be the same Gales.
Gales has the natural charisma, personal narrative, and youthful energy to be a top-tier candidate. This was his first run for office and I think he learned a lot about how not to run. If he learned his lessons and runs a better campaign, if he starts early and works hard, if Anchorage Republicans figure out how to support him, and if it’s Peterson he runs against, he can win. If, if, if.
Over in West Anchorage, the two serious candidates who lost, Adam Trombley and Ira Perman, both could run again next year when everyone expects there to be an open seat created by Tim Steele who isn’t expected to run for re-election. I don’t think he has said that publicly, but everyone in local politics knows he hates the job and won’t run again.
Trombley is almost a lock to run again. The waning days of this spring’s campaign had the feel of Trombley just running out the clock and playing for next year. It’s unlikely another conservative candidate will emerge so Trombley shouldn’t have any opposition to running.
As for Perman, it’s more of an open question. There was a rumored deal on the table from labor unions and Democrat insiders to support Perman next year if he dropped out this year to clear the way for Eric Croft. Perman rejected the offer and in doing so possibly napalmed those bridges for the foreseeable future.
West Anchorage is a candidate rich environment for progressives so they should have no trouble recruiting a quality candidate for next year. Does Perman want to face a repeat of this year’s three-way dynamic that ended with him garnering just 15% of the vote? I doubt it.
South Anchorage will be interesting. Assemblyman Bill Evans is up for re-election, but social conservatives are still seething over his committing to them that he would oppose any LGBT rights ordinance, only to see him be the one who introduced a version of it.
Given that conservatives lost the South Anchorage race in a three-way contest this year in which many conservatives blame having one-and-a-half Republicans splitting the vote for the loss, it will be interesting to see if the social conservative bloc risks recruiting a conservative challenger to Evans and thus duplicating this year’s three-way race that could cost them even more in the end. Social and religious conservatives are generally more likely to stand on principles than some pro-business conservatives, I wouldn’t rule the possibility out that another three-way emerges. Time will tell.
In Chugiak/Eagle River it is expected that Nicholas Begich will build on this year’s failed run with a shot at the open seat created next year by Assemblyman Bill Starr term-limiting out. At this point I don’t see that going any better for him than his run this year. The group of Republican women who were Amy Demboski’s biggest supporters are a fierce bunch who rarely forgive or forget. I would expect them to recruit a quality alternative to Begich and wage a nasty campaign against him in conservative and Republican circles over the next year.
Expect someone new to emerge and win this seat.
Over in Midtown, Elvi Grey-Jackson is term-limited out and there is already a gentleman named Marcus Sanders who has filed with APOC to run and he appears to be a progressive, largely in Grey-Jackson’s mold.
This isn’t just a winnable seat for Republicans, it is a must win seat if they hope to have any influence on the Assembly in coming years. They might be able to convince Andy Clary to take another shot at the seat or recruit someone new. I’d expect the latter.
It’s a year out from the election for the Downtown seat and there have already been two declared candidates for the past six months. The contest for the open seat created when current Assemblyman Patrick Flynn terms out next year is between Fairview community activist Chris Constant and democrat politico David Dunsmore who have both filed Letters of Intent with APOC. Constant has already been actively fundraising and organizing his campaign.
Neither candidate has been elected to office before and aren’t formidable enough to ward off more challengers. Who else do we think could get in? The most name floated has been former Assemblywoman and mayoral candidate Sheila Selkregg taking who could take a shot at the seat. If she does, she immediately becomes the frontrunner.
If the race does shape up with some combination of Constant, Dunsmore, Selkregg, and others of similar ilk running, that could open the door for a conservative candidate to jump in. Even Though the district is one of the state’s most liberal enclaves, if 2-3 liberals split the vote there could be just enough room to score what has become an increasingly rare win for conservative candidates in local Anchorage elections.