The primary election was fun, and lively, and entertaining, but is also now in the books. Now we turn our attention to the general election in November. Here is a quick primer on what we’re watching.
President of the United States — At this point it looks pretty clear Donald Trump will win Alaska’s Electoral College delegates. It also looks like he will lose the national election, possibly by a hefty landslide. If you are looking for the canary in the coal mine for Trump getting wiped out nationally, it will be when Republican senatorial and congressional candidates start positioning themselves as a “check” on Hillary if she were to get elected. If you hear that from Sen. Murkowski or Rep. Young it means they know the end is near for Trump.
U.S. Senate Race — As expected, Sen. Lisa Murkowski won her GOP primary handily. That didn’t come as a shock to anyone.
On the Dem side, well-known Alaska political rabble-rouser Ray Metcalf also won. He is a polarizing figure both among the general population and inside the Alaska Democratic Party. There are already plenty of Democrats saying they won’t support him including Bernie Sanders’ state coordinator Jill Yordy and former Sen. Mark Begich. That probably means a few more votes for Independent candidate Margaret Stock, but still not enough to make it a real race.
Libertarian Cean Stevens is also on the ballot. It will be interesting to see how many “anyone but Murkowski” votes she can peel off from the incumbent Senator.
This race is a snoozer. All indications are Murkowski wins by 30 points or more.
U.S. Congress —- As has been the case in most of Alaskans’ lifetimes, Rep. Don Young easily won the GOP nomination. As expected, Steve Lindbeck won the Dem nomination. This race starts now. At this point, most folks in GOP-land aren’t that worried about Young losing, but this could turn into a real race, so stay tuned.
State Senate — The primary election affected potential State Senate organization very little. We anticipate senate newbies Natasha Von Imhof, David Wilson, and Shelly Hughes will organize with other Republicans, just as their predecessors did.
As of now here is how we see Senate organization shaping up:
And here is a snippet from our full analysis of these races and how they will impact the Senate’s caucus organization next year. We feel it is still accurate.
As you can see in the graphic above, if Democrats take the two toss-up seats they will start with a 10-10 tie with Republicans for organization.
From there it’s a race to see who can pick up one or two members from the other side. Democrats have a far stronger chance of getting a moderate Republican to come to their side than Republicans do of attracting a Democrat or winning back Stevens or Steadman.
In this scenario, AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami will have beaten Sen. Giessel. Fairbanks Republican Sen. Bishop is known to be a great friend of Labor. That relationship between Bishop and Beltrami almost guarantees Bishop switches sides for organizational purposes.
At that point, a Democrat led organization would have an 11-9 majority and it would just be a matter of negotiating the terms for at least one of the moderate Republicans (Meyer, Costello, and Micciche) to come over and make the bi-partisan caucus 12-14 members strong.
A lot hangs in the balance in those two Senate races. Whichever side wins both, wins that majority for the next two years. If there is a split, things will get interesting.
State House — At this point it looks like Republicans and Democrats fared evenly in the primary election. Republicans took out Musk-Ox coalitioner Rep. Jim Colver and, as of now, it looks like Democrats did the same to their own organizational defectors in Rep. Bob Herron and Rep. Ben Nageak.Those trying to forge a bipartisan caucus in the House next year also picked up a couple of Republican recruitment prospects in DeLena Johnson and Gary Knopp.
All-in-all, we see the primaries as a wash on caucus politics.
Republicans can pick off Rep. Adam Wool and Rep. Matt Claman and Dems have a fair shot at Rep. Lance Pruitt and Rep. Liz Vazquez.
If the two sides split those races 2-2, we give the advantage to the Democrats. They could easily pick off 1-2 moderate Republicans from the other side by offering the speakership to the likes of Rep. Steve Thompson or Rep. Charisse Millett and finance co-chair position to any number of possibilities.
Republicans then will need to win three out of these four or pull off a bigger upset against Rep. Harriet Drummond, Rep. Dan Ortiz, or Rep. Ivy Spohnholz to solidify their effort to have a GOP-driven majority caucus.