Friday in the Sun (Oct. 30): The It’s Almost Over edition

Friday in the Sun is here

Welcome to Friday in the Sun, our weekly column that’s some combination of ranting, rumormongering and recapping everything that we wish we had the energy to cover during the week.  

Just a few days until election day and a week and a few days until we have anything close to a clear picture about how the election turned out nationally or in Alaska. It can’t come soon enough.

What to watch for with election-night results

In case you haven’t heard by now, we’re not going to have a complete picture of how the election went on election night. That’s because, as of today, there’s 89,439 ballots (about 28% of the vote from the 2016 election) cast via by-mail ballots and other absentee voting methods that won’t be counted until a week after the election day.

As long as ballots are postmarked by election day (which isn’t guaranteed if you drop it in the mailbox, so it’s best to plan to drop it off at a drop box or polling location) and received within 10 days after the election, that count will continue to grow.

Another 37,995 ballots cast through Thursday via early in-person voting (which shouldn’t be confused with early in-person absentee voting) at the 11 early in-person voting locations will be part of the election night total.

According to our crunch of the early voting and absentee voting rolls, Democrats have the numbers advantage over Republicans in the absentee ballots cast so far 23,675 to 21,749. Republicans have the numbers advantage in early voting 10,588 to 6,962, but Democrats still account for an outsized chunk of the early votes–about 18.3% of the early votes while they account for 13.5% of the electorate.

In overall votes cast, Democrats are punching far above their registration rate. Democrats make up 13.5% of the electorate but account for 24% of the votes already cast. Republicans account for 24.4% of the electorate and 25.4% of the votes already cast.

In all cases, the important caveat is that independent voters (registered undeclared and nonpartisan voters combined) outpace everyone else in terms of total ballots cast both via early in-person voting and absentee voting.  

Though we won’t know the final results on election night, we can go into the night with a pretty good guess on where things might stand based on what we do know: During the primary, conservatives were more likely to vote in-person and that progressives and moderates (including many moderate Republicans) were more likely to vote early and vote absentee, and that it appears to be the case again in the general election.

What that means is we’ll expect to see progressive candidates pick up votes as the absentee votes are counted. An election-night result that’s close or has a progressive ahead will be very good news for that candidate while a blowout result favoring the conservative candidate—akin to what we saw in the primary when several “moderate” Republicans trailed by 40+ points on election night—will be incredibly difficult for the progressive to make up.

The most expensive legislative race

The race between Democrat Liz Snyder and Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt is shaping up to be one of the most expensive legislative races in Alaska’s history, if it’s not already surpassed that mark. Snyder stands atop the legislative field in terms of fundraising with a whopping $172,249.99 to her name according to the seven-day reports filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission earlier this week.

She has a $42,000 lead on the next closest legislative candidate (Sen. Josh Revak, who’s netted $130,698) and has a massive cash advantage over Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt, who’s raised a respectable-in-a-regular-legislative-race total of $66,154.52.

That’s nearly a quarter million dollars right there but it gets even more wild—precisely $504,926.17 more wild—when you bring in independent expenditures into the equation. Snyder and Pruitt are the target of the highest independent expenditure spending of any legislative candidates this year with a vast majority of that money favoring Snyder and opposing Pruitt.

Progressive groups have spent $324,738.05 supporting Snyder and $132,947.95 to oppose Pruitt while conservative groups have chipped in $41,285.86 to support Pruitt and $5,954.31 to oppose Snyder.

These numbers along with a strong Democratic showing in early votes, an electorate that has more Democrats and fewer Republicans than it did in 2018 and two years of Pruitt propping up Dunleavy (who lost the district in 2018) make this race the top candidate for flipping into progressive hands.

A bunch of charts

As is the case for the usual Friday afternoon in the offices of The Midnight Sun, I’ve spent pretty much the whole day futzing around with numbers. So, let’s get some of the campaign finance stuff out of the way.

According to a rough rundown from APOC figures, candidates who’ve made it to the general election have raised about $3.75 million this year and have spent about $2.78 million so far. Independent expenditures on both the ballot measures and the legislative candidate races sits at nearly $30 million.

None of this even begins to touch the amount that has been raised and spent on the congressional races, where candidates Al Gross and Dan Sullivan nearly equal the entirety of the fundraising on in-state races. Sullivan’s cash advantage evaporated this summer when the bear doctor got a wave of national attention. (Note that most of these numbers are from earlier this month.)

Gross now holds a commanding fundraising advantage with $16,812,922 raised to Sullivan’s $9,656,005.

Outside spending almost doubles the cost of the race with an additional $27 million pouring in.  

According to the breakdown by Open Secrets, a whopping $14,121,565 has been spent opposing Sullivan, $3,985,481 has been spent supporting Gross, $8,711,428 has been spent opposing Gross and a paltry $135,342 has been spent supporting Sullivan. [Sad Ohio noises]

The cash enthusiasm has also been pouring into the congressional race where Alyse Galvin raised $4.3 million to Don Young’s $1.7 million. Outside spending hasn’t been quite as heavy with about $1.7 million being spent on both candidates, mostly in opposition.

Anyways, here’s some charts for the legislative races:

NameDistrictPartyTotal Raised30-day RaisedTotal SpentCash on Hand
Bart LeBonHouse 01R$54,076.40$4,704.55$33,981.44$20,094.96
Christopher QuistHouse 01D$34,920.06$18,552.00$34,672.94$247.12
Steve ThompsonHouse 02R$20,050.00$1,750.00$8,660.29$11,389.71
Jeremiah YoumansHouse 02D$2,600.93$405.00$1,759.58$841.35
Mike PraxHouse 03R$2,250.00$1,250.00$1,277.00$1,250.00
Grier HopkinsHouse 04D$61,348.14$3,686.00$53,520.86$9,074.08
Keith KurberHouse 04R$52,265.74$4,549.43$39,205.04$13,060.70
Adam WoolHouse 05D$62,306.46$5,825.00$48,107.65$14,900.01
Kevin McKinleyHouse 05R$41,115.70$3,220.00$37,975.46$3,140.24
Julia HnilickaHouse 06D$84,642.03$19,929.84$74,406.08$10,235.95
Mike CronkHouse 06R$30,227.75$8,936.00$19,942.73$10,285.02
Elijah VerhagenHouse 06U$20,412.15$3,246.50$18,871.12$1,541.91
Deborah Williams RileyHouse 06NA$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00
Christopher KurkaHouse 07R$28,282.17$1,980.03$24,398.15$3,524.02
Jamin L. BurtonHouse 07U$9,053.00$350.00$6,094.54$2,958.46
Kevin McCabeHouse 08R$44,840.19$2,477.00$40,698.65$4,141.54
Alma HartleyHouse 08D$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00
Bill JohnsonHouse 09D$33,736.00$5,735.00$23,547.49$11,902.01
George RauscherHouse 09R$2,500.00$2,500.00$2,093.52$406.48
David EastmanHouse 10R$42,028.08$3,120.65$35,397.75$6,630.33
Monica Lynn Stein-OlsonHouse 10D$765.00$765.00$4,115.50-$3,350.50
DeLena M JohnsonHouse 11R$18,196.29$550.00$11,806.14$6,439.16
Andrea HackbarthHouse 11D$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00
Cathy L. TiltonHouse 12R$22,067.00$470.00$10,850.29$12,716.71
James Allen Canitz, SrHouse 13D$11,471.01$320.00$2,068.84$9,402.17
Ken McCartyHouse 13R$3,550.00$3,550.00$1,412.11$2,137.89
Kelly MerrickHouse 14R$44,792.97$2,925.00$17,744.85$31,560.58
Mike RisingerHouse 14NA$4,453.08$325.00$3,570.28$882.80
Lyn FranksHouse 15D$47,579.08$14,814.76$28,461.09$19,335.69
David NelsonHouse 15R$27,938.00$5,595.00$29,786.32-$1,848.32
Patrick McCormackHouse 15D (Write-in)$89.22$89.22$89.22$0.00
Ivy A SpohnholzHouse 16D$70,228.50$10,118.50$56,856.85$13,699.45
Paul BauerHouse 16R$4,581.19$700.00$2,793.81$1,787.38
Scott A KohlhaasHouse 16L$2,749.00$345.00$2,377.96$371.04
Andy JosephsonHouse 17D$21,067.41$650.00$5,551.63$18,073.91
Harriet A. DrummondHouse 18D$11,405.00$675.00$8,801.22$7,603.78
Geran TarrHouse 19D$2,750.00$2,750.00$1,482.13$1,267.87
William Z "Zack" FieldsHouse 20D$21,994.26$1,950.00$7,142.76$12,655.01
Matt ClamanHouse 21D$107,000.08$6,180.00$62,458.06$47,024.86
Lynette LargentHouse 21R$0.00$0.00$104.38-$104.38
Sara RasmussenHouse 22R$92,410.31$9,469.31$50,291.35$42,118.96
Stephen TrimbleHouse 22NA$62,569.06$15,296.78$40,232.51$21,336.55
David NeesHouse 22AI$0.00$0.00$1,200.00-$1,200.00
Kathy HensleeHouse 23R$42,283.01$14,103.00$27,463.21$14,819.80
Chris TuckHouse 23D$35,961.92$15,620.00$23,054.98$14,007.49
Timothy R. HuitHouse 23AI$1,523.79$475.77$1,523.79$0.00
Tom McKayHouse 24R$56,462.70$4,016.00$54,286.07$2,181.63
Gloria Susan LeviHouse 24D$5,478.46$5,478.46$2,261.11$3,217.35
Calvin SchrageHouse 25NP-D$114,491.35$17,041.00$97,323.48$17,167.87
Mel GillisHouse 25R$78,167.49$7,675.00$57,779.59$20,387.90
Laddie ShawHouse 26R$31,947.92$1,250.00$7,606.37$29,341.55
Liz SnyderHouse 27D$172,249.99$13,674.58$168,268.79$8,194.53
Lance PruittHouse 27R$66,154.52$16,112.00$54,043.04$12,656.78
Suzanne LaFranceHouse 28NP-D$80,242.51$31,515.00$49,987.72$33,881.09
James KaufmanHouse 28R$74,621.13$13,366.00$52,411.05$22,210.08
Adam S. LeesHouse 28D$2,399.36$0.00$2,330.94$68.42
Benjamin FletcherHouse 28NA$0.00$0.00$660.34-$660.34
Paul D. DaleHouse 29NP$54,653.45$7,785.00$51,074.30$3,579.15
Ben CarpenterHouse 29R$20,279.55$6,825.00$10,772.59$10,037.33
James BaisdenHouse 30NA$30,542.40$4,300.00$24,206.79$6,012.81
Ronald Dale GillhamHouse 30R$14,630.00$1,100.00$18,634.32-$4,004.32
Kelly CooperHouse 31NA$113,968.50$24,610.75$95,145.54$18,822.96
Sarah L. VanceHouse 31R$68,234.75$10,899.25$51,028.07$17,206.68
Louise B StutesHouse 32R$20,868.33$2,650.00$2,293.46$18,574.87
Sara HannanHouse 33D$15,109.48$2,050.00$3,761.55$14,555.64
Andi StoryHouse 34D$60,569.04$9,722.00$47,676.86$12,892.18
Edward KingHouse 34NP$18,556.93$4,383.00$19,441.31-$878.38
Jonathan Kreiss-TomkinsHouse 35D$63,383.14$4,251.10$30,904.23$34,174.63
Kenny SkaflestadHouse 35R$1,800.00$1,000.00$1,495.59$304.41
Leslie BeckerHouse 36R$81,529.93$6,370.00$61,460.98$12,915.80
Dan OrtizHouse 36U$74,059.95$14,699.00$63,995.07$12,439.88
Bryce EdgmonHouse 37U-D$18,130.00$1,325.00$5,160.43$17,610.87
Tiffany ZulkoskyHouse 38D$30,961.00$5,170.00$14,561.72$21,399.28
Neal FosterHouse 39D$20,741.01$2,925.77$29,483.29-$3,742.28
Dan HolmesHouse 39R$4,888.97$1,000.00$5,827.14-$138.50
Tyler L IvanoffHouse 39AI (Write-in)$1,438.00$119.00$1,036.07$290.93
Elizabeth FergusonHouse 40D$57,098.60$7,690.00$45,461.73$11,063.85
Josiah Aullaqsruaq PatkotakHouse 40NA$12,474.21$6,438.40$3,890.83$8,583.38
Marna SanfordSenate BNA$107,191.71$20,200.00$90,744.09$16,447.62
Robert H Myers JrSenate BR$47,275.15$15,020.00$14,806.19$32,468.96
Evan A EadsSenate BNA$31,940.29$200.00$10,378.39-$225.00
Dan MayfieldSenate DNP$49,713.32$15,325.00$47,987.61$4,050.53
David S. WilsonSenate DR$46,283.82$3,250.00$34,380.49$16,911.98
Stephen WrightSenate DR$7,117.25$795.00$6,877.21$18.37
Stephen WrightSenate DR$7,117.25$795.00$6,877.21$18.37
Shelley HughesSenate FR$52,485.37$12,143.00$43,731.69$8,753.68
Jim CooperSenate FD$39,255.00$21,889.00$37,784.89$1,470.11
Gavin ChristiansenSenate FL$820.00$0.00$704.00$116.00
Bill WielechowskiSenate HD$47,633.06$5,830.00$28,866.23$18,766.83
Madeleine GaiserSenate HR$23,365.00$4,055.00$21,520.45$1,844.55
Tom BegichSenate JD$51,342.21$1,825.00$20,865.17$30,482.11
Roselynn CacySenate LD$15,448.57$2,069.51$13,435.06$3,677.40
Natasha Von ImhofSenate LR$5,250.00$5,250.00$33,991.74$39,024.84
Stephen J. DuplantisSenate LR (Write-in)$2,041.00$0.00$1,441.47$599.53
Josh RevakSenate MR$130,698.00$15,565.00$97,024.26$37,739.36
Andy HollemanSenate MNA$76,817.50$28,225.00$53,690.82$28,126.68
Carl JohnsonSenate ND$70,654.51$26,154.51$40,745.33$20,811.29
Roger HollandSenate NR$64,712.20$13,090.00$38,649.71$26,062.49
Carolyn "Care" CliftSenate NU$10,922.24$650.05$11,387.42$372.06
Lynette Moreno HinzSenate ND (Write-in)$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00
Gary StevensSenate PR$25,950.00$6,650.00$13,141.88$14,854.12
Dr Greg MaddenSenate PAI$10,003.14$5,535.00$7,939.37$2,217.69
Bert StedmanSenate RR$40,625.00$5,400.00$32,502.47$9,111.97
Michael D. SheldonSenate RR (Write-in)$6,844.00$574.00$7,660.69-$746.14
Donny OlsonSenate TD$15,050.00$4,250.00$12,439.36$4,256.19
Donny OlsonSenate TD$15,050.00$4,250.00$12,439.36$4,256.19
Thomas Ikaaq BakerSenate TR$6,209.00$2,000.00$3,085.44$2,273.86
Thomas Ikaaq BakerSenate TR$6,209.00$2,000.00$3,085.44$2,273.86
Calvin Donald Moto IISenate TR$20.00$20.00$0.00$20.00

And here’s the spending on candidate-specific independent expenditures:

NameTotalSupportsOpposes
Liz Snyder$330,692.36$324,738.05$5,954.31
Lance Pruitt$174,233.81$41,285.86$132,947.95
David Nelson$143,081.26$136,865.37$6,215.89
Kelly Cooper$131,438.82$130,537.33$901.49
Sarah L. Vance$79,486.55$10,459.55$69,027.00
Sara Rasmussen$73,437.40$1,655.04$71,782.36
Susan M (Sue) Carney$69,755.13$31,719.13$38,036.00
Stephen Trimble$67,339.94$66,308.70$1,031.24
Marna Sanford$63,450.76$62,634.74$816.02
James Kaufman$61,218.11$8,494.54$52,723.57
Robert H Myers Jr$60,294.64$60,294.64$0.00
Calvin Schrage$48,067.60$45,952.79$2,114.81
Suzanne LaFrance$44,747.47$44,434.98$312.49
Mel Gillis$43,724.64$10,651.00$33,073.64
Elizabeth Ferguson$36,015.34$35,105.21$910.13
Adam Wool$35,944.18$35,072.53$871.65
Kevin McKinley$32,123.43$32,123.43$0.00
Katherine J Henslee (Kathy)$24,664.60$24,664.60$0.00
Daniel H Ortiz (Dan)$24,563.47$13,340.78$11,222.69
Bart LeBon$23,592.00$4,900.00$18,692.00
Lyn Diane Franks$17,010.42$15,681.32$1,329.10
Chris Tuck$10,729.53$662.93$10,066.60
Andy Holleman$8,493.35$7,956.87$536.48
Julia Hnilicka$5,899.51$5,539.94$359.57
Roger Holland$5,817.41$0.00$5,817.41
Romano D. DiBenedetto$5,588.63$5,588.63$0.00
Carl Johnson$5,563.47$4,843.07$720.40
Christopher Quist$4,859.63$4,500.06$359.57
Tracey Wollenberg$4,320.72$4,320.72$0.00
Matthew Casey Christian$4,086.98$4,086.98$0.00
Leslie Becker$3,600.00$0.00$3,600.00
Yvonne Lamoureux$3,144.87$3,144.87$0.00
Josh Revak$2,704.91$100.00$2,604.91
Ben Carpenter$2,500.00$2,500.00$0.00
Ivy A Spohnholz$1,985.37$918.74$1,066.63
Bill Wielechowski$1,774.97$1,238.49$536.48
Leslie Dickson$1,444.71$1,444.71$0.00
Harriet A. Drummond$1,342.39$925.74$416.65
Andrew L. "Andy" Josephson$1,321.74$905.09$416.65
Elijah Verhagen$1,278.50$1,278.50$0.00
Matt Claman$1,239.76$816.75$423.01
Grier Hopkins$1,187.50$827.93$359.57
Geran Tarr$1,160.54$743.89$416.65
William Z "Zack" Fields$1,160.54$743.89$416.65
Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins$1,148.46$788.89$359.57
Tom Begich$1,103.47$743.90$359.57
Andrea "Andi" Story$1,103.46$743.89$359.57
Sara Hannan$1,103.46$743.89$359.57
Tiffany Zulkosky$1,103.46$743.89$359.57
Gloria Susan Levi$967.98$901.38$66.60
Keith Kurber$580.00$580.00$0.00
Michael Franciosi$530.51$530.51$0.00
Jeremiah Youmans$359.57$0.00$359.57
Mike Risinger$359.57$0.00$359.57
Paul D. Dale$359.57$0.00$359.57
George Rauscher$100.00$100.00$0.00
Paul A. Roetman$50.00$50.00$0.00
Natasha Von Imhof$2.60$0.00$2.60

Not just a great system, the best system

You’ll notice that not all the people being targeted by independent expenditures are legislative candidates. Near the top is Alaska Supreme Court Justice Susan Carney, who’s been the target of about $69,755.13 in spending: $38,036.00 from conservative groups opposing her retention and $31,719.13 from those supporting her retention.

The conservative pushback is just the latest attempt to attack the independence and integrity of Alaska’s judicial system. Conservatives have long chafed at Alaska’s system of appointing and retaining judges, driven by the nonpartisan Alaska Judicial Council that uses a merit-driven system to evaluate potential judges and recommend whether they should keep their seats.

The Alaska Judicial Council recommends voters retain Carney this year, along with every other judge on the ballot. And let’s be clear here, Alaska’s judicial system is not just far better than other states, it’s considered the best. Alaska ranks at the top of the country when it comes to judicial accountability from the Center for Public Integrity.

We’re probably preaching to the early voting choir here, but we recommend voting to retain every judge, including Justice Carney.

What do they even care about anyways?

That’s all I could think about this week as the U.S. Senate—Alaska’s Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan included—voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barret and then adjourn, leaving town without passing another much-needed round of covid-19 aid.

That’s what I thought as Gov. Mike Dunleavy praised the move and continued his unconvincing mission of claiming the covid-19 pandemic is no big deal as the daily rate of cases has exceeded 300 with the positivity rate spiking into scary territory throughout the state. Alaska’s done a great job protecting the most vulnerable, he claimed as the state announced new cases in the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, joining other high-risk facilities like the Alaska Pioneer Homes, McLaughlin Youth Center, state prisons and homeless shelters.

The virus is hitting minority populations at a rate far higher than the national average.

Alaska is poised to be deeply scarred by covid-19 as decisions made today become unreversible tomorrow.

We wrote about it last week after talking with economist Mouhcine Guettabi and the general takeaway is that it’s much easier and much less costly to do preventative measures now rather than later. It’s easier and cheaper to keep people in their homes, keep businesses open and people away from bankruptcies.

Alaska’s in desperate need of just an ounce of leadership from its state leaders, but we’ll need to wait until next week to see if the governor can be bothered to push to renew the state’s disaster declaration.

Instead, it’s Anchorage Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson who’s stepping up with a clear message that compassion is what’s needed to help Alaska through this and that it’s not some false choice between individual health and a healthy economy. Wear a mask so everyone can stay open, she argues.

Meanwhile, Dunleavy is using his statewide platform to wonder if masks really work, claiming that the truth is somewhere between the virus is real and the virus isn’t real. “It is real in the sense that it does exist,” he said.

It also should be noted that only a small fraction of the economic downturn can be linked to government intervention. Consumers’ voluntary decisions to avoid potentially risky situations, stay home and save money is a much larger contributor to the problem and not something that will be fixed by lifting the existing public health measures. Economists worry lifting them, especially with cases on the rise, would only contribute to the worsening economic pain.

Or, as fellow economist Kevin Berry said at a briefing this week: “Human life has value.”

If only our current elected leaders could understand that.

Guest comics!

Thanks to reader TiGer, who sent along a bunch of editorial cartoons this week:

2021 session

The Legislative Council voted this week to renew the health procedures they had at the end of this year’s session for the start of the next session. It limits access to the capital to only legislators, staff and media in the building. It would also require masks or face shields for folks in the building.

It’s a reminder that, oh yeah, we have a legislative session coming up just as cases are getting bad but it also comes with a big ol’ asterisk that all of this planning is 100% reliant on the new slate of legislators approving it.

Happy Halloween, everyone

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