The early results from Tuesday’s recall election targeting Anchorage Assemblymember Meg Zaletel shows the effort, which was borne out of the city’s extreme-right circles, failing by more than 20 percentage points.
With 9,346 votes counted as of Tuesday night, 5,702 voters in District 4 had rejected the recall (a whopping 61.1%) to just 3,618 who supported the recall (38.2%). The day’s results don’t include votes cast on Tuesday or by-mail ballots that may continue to arrive over the coming days. The results are scheduled to be certified on Nov. 9.
Given there’s a more than 2,000-vote gap, it would take a significant shift in the remaining votes to alter the outcome of the race. It’s a spot that has left many of those in Zaletel’s camp feeling pretty confident about the results.
“The voters of Midtown didn’t just say no,” wrote Assemblymember Christopher Constant on Twitter after the results were released. “They said HELL NO.”
The recall was borne out of the city’s extreme-right groups like the Save Anchorage Facebook group and was the second to target the assembly’s Midtown members (the one targeting Assemblymember Felix Rivera failed by about 13 percentage points). Ostensibly, the recall was about Zaletel participating in an Assembly meeting that had more people than was allowed under health precautions last year, but it was far more about the Assembly and Zaletel’s support of health precautions—which included passing the mask mandate earlier this month—that was driving the ire in the recall.
Supporters of the recall effort included Andy Kriner—the diner owner who infamously opposed health precautions last summer—and other groups and individuals that have not only opposed taking measures to slow the spread of the covid-19 pandemic but have been incensed by the Assembly’s moderate/progressive core’s refusal to rubberstamp far-right Mayor Dave Bronson’s agenda.
The race became a flashpoint for the state’s conservatives, with the supporting campaigns even drawing sizable contributions from individuals not living in Anchorage (including a $5,000 contribution given to the Recall Meg group two days ahead of the election). Far more than $140,000 were spent on campaigns backing the recall, an eye-watering amount for any local election.
The high-stakes race made it into a prove-it moment for the extreme-right groups to show that their movement was more than a private Facebook group and two weeks of deeply disturbing testimony aimed at the Anchorage Assembly, especially after reporting suggested that the effort was far more coordinated than its grassroots image would suggest.
One of the core messages—well aside from the antisemitism, death threats and rampant conspiracy theories—was that the public was better represented in the angry testimony than it was by the members of the Anchorage Assembly. They promised dire consequences at the polls (and sometimes worse) if the Assembly pushed ahead with the masking mandate, which was ultimately passed on a 9-1 vote through an emergency resolution.
At least for now, that looks to be a lot of hot air.