By Peter Lowewi
After the Nov. 23 rankings were compiled, Lisa Murkowski and Mary Peltola both won re-election to Congress, both with about 54 percent of the final votes.
Heading to Wednesday’s count, Republican Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent senator, led Republican Kelly Tshibaka by about 2,000 votes, 43.37 percent to 42.64 percent. Democrat Pat Chesbro had 10.74 percent and Republican Buzz Kelley, who had suspended his campaign in support of Tshibaka, had 3.25 percent.
In the ranked election, if a candidate does not receive 50 percent plus one of the votes, the second elections of those who voted for last place are tabulated. In Round 1 of the Senate lineup, Kelley was eliminated and his 8,540 voters were given a second chance to speak out on the election. Since this did not result in 50 percent for any candidate, the process was repeated in Round 2 for those who chose Chesbro. Of the 29,078 people who placed Chesbro first, 20,543 voted Murkowski second and only 2,209 voted Tshibaka. The remaining 6,289 voters “exhausted” their votes, meaning they did not vote for another candidate, and there were 37 “overvotes,” where a voter voted for the same candidate more than once.
Round 3 of ranking selection propelled Murkowski to re-election, where she received 135,972 (53.69 percent) votes to 117,299 (46.31 percent) over Tshibaka.
Tshibaka, who previously indicated he would contest the election results, conceded the race. “The rankings show that Senator Lisa Murkowski has been reelected, and I congratulate her on that,” she said in a press release. “The new voting system was frustrating for many Alaskans because it was undeniably designed as an incumbent protection program and clearly worked as intended.” She also thanked former President Trump.
Another Trump-backed candidate who lost the Alaska election was Sarah Palin, who was running for Alaska’s only seat in the US House of Representatives, held by Democrat Mary Peltola, after a special election this summer.
Palin went second in the standings but was more than 20 points behind Peltola, 25.83 percent to 48.64 percent. Republican Nick Begich was a close third with 23.64 percent. In the ranking process, Libertarian candidate Chris Bye was eliminated after the first round and the second choice of his 4,986 votes was tabulated.
In the second round of the table, Nick Begich was eliminated. Of the 64,392 votes Begich received (first rank plus votes carried over by voters from Chris Bye), 43,013 were carried over to Palin in the second round. The 7,460 votes Peltola received from Begich voters who placed her second was enough to push her mark over 50 percent.
Peltola had 54.96 percent versus Palin’s 45.06 percent of the vote; 13,864 ballots were exhausted for not voting for another candidate after Begich, emphasizing a rift in the Republican Party.
After the victory was announced, Peltola told reporters, “I think it shows that Alaskans wholeheartedly embrace impartiality and embrace cooperation and tackling problems Alaskans face.”
Palin’s campaign issued a statement Friday congratulating Peltola.
The governor’s election was decided before the nomination, as incumbent Mike Dunleavy received 50.28 percent of the first election vote. Alaskans declined to hold a constitutional convention, with 70 percent saying no.
Nome is divided into two electoral districts that had statistically similar turnouts and electoral opportunities.
For the Senate, 67 percent of Nome voters chose Murkowski as their first choice, 23 percent chose Tshibaka, and 7 percent voted for Chesbro.
In the House of Representatives race, 71 percent of Nome voters put their first choice for Peltola, 16 percent for Palin, and 10 percent for Begich.
While the nomeites had clear favorites in the congressional election, the governor’s race was more divided: 37 percent voted for Dunleavy, 31 percent favored Bill Walker, and 25 percent voted for Les Gara.
house district 39
While the lead at one point was just under six votes, Alaska House Representative Neal Foster won re-election over Tyler Ivanoff by 95 votes, about 2.5 percent. The race for the House of Representatives was tight and widely spread across the district, which includes the northern Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Ivanoff, who is originally from Elim and now resides in Shishmaref, received a higher percentage of the vote in 12 of the 15 villages in the Nome Census Area. Foster received more votes in Nome and in eight of the 11 villages in the YK Delta, but not in the Nome Census Area.
Overall, 44.3 percent of eligible Alaskan voters voted, but only 35.2 percent of voters in House District 39, which includes the Nome Census Area, cast their ballots.
At 51 percent, Brevig Mission was the only community in the region where more than half of registered voters cast their ballots. In Nome, turnout was 29 percent.
The Alaska Division of Elections expects to confirm the election this week, but as of press time this has not been confirmed.