Alaskans are still awaiting the final outcome of the races following the recent general election. But there’s no doubt who Juneau voters picked as their winners.
KTOO’s Chloe Pleznac spoke to Juneau Empire reporter Mark Sabbatini about his last article Breakdown of how the capital’s voters differed from the rest of the state.
The following transcript has been edited slightly for clarity.
Chloe Pleznac: Therefore, we won’t know the final results of the national elections until the 29th. But in Juneau, do we have a pretty good idea of which statewide candidates will have the upper hand with local voters?
Mark Sabbatini: We do it. At this point, it’s pretty clear that Mary Peltola was the dominant choice among Juneau voters. She has 48% nationally, which means she’ll likely have to rely on ranked voting. But here in Juneau, she has 75% of the first electoral vote among District 4 – downtown voters and Douglas – and 62% of voters in District 3, which would be the Valley and some of the outlying communities like Skagway, Haines, Klukwan etc.
Chloe Pleznac: So Walker was better than Dunleavy here. But he also compared far better to Gara than anywhere else. What do you make of it?
Mark Sabbatini: Well, again, it shows that Juneau as a whole tends to vote more liberally than the state as a whole because Dunleavy is the only candidate in the entire state to have an absolute majority of the first election votes as of now. He has 51%. His two main opponents, Bill Walker and Les Gara, sit at 44% combined. So those are the national figures. But look in Juneau and in the Valley, the most conservative area in District 3 — he follows Walker there, basically 38% for Walker to 35% for Dunleavy. Gara is about 11 points behind at 24%. But then you look downtown and Douglas in District 4, the governor is actually in third place, and he’s a long way behind. Walker has 46% of the voters in District 4. He trails Gara with 28% and Dunleavy with 25%. So he certainly wasn’t popular where the governor’s mansion is located.
Chloe Pleznac: There have been some reallocations in this election cycle. Have we seen the vote numbers being affected?
Mark Sabbatini: Well, the new district process that both redefined the numbers for Juneau’s two districts also added some communities to the new District 3, which was largely the Mendenhall Valley area. They now also have Skagway, Haines, Klukwan and the remote northern Panhandle communities. And we’ve seen that while this district is still more conservative than the district that includes downtown, Douglas, and the Lemon Creek area, these outlying communities have generally voted significantly more liberally than the Mendenhall Valley areas. I think it was outside Klukwan They had Murkowski, who got 80% of the vote in that county, while nationally, she and Kelly Tshibaka are basically tied at 43-43%. And in the Mendenhall Valley district, Murkowski still leads, but it’s a 55-30% split rather than the 80% she’s received in some of the cheapest northern Panhandle communities.
The other thing that was interesting is, and you see that in both the outlying communities and in Juneau, it’s not always consistent. There are two districts up in Haines and they’re actually pretty divided, one a lot more liberal than the other. In general, adding these communities to District 4 has made the numbers more liberal than in the past, but it’s not consistent across the board.
Chloe Pleznac: Alaskans appear en masse to oppose a constitutional convention, with about 70% of statewide voters voting against holding one. How did Juneau residents vote on this issue?
Mark Sabbatini: Well, Juneau residents in both District 3 and District 4 were decidedly more opposed to the convention than people in the entire state. As you noticed, the national numbers were around 70% to 30%. In the District 3 or Mendenhall Valley and Northern Panhandle parishes, it was defeated by a majority of 75% to 25%. District for downtown, Douglas and Lemon Creek, it was a landslide rejection. Figures were like 86% against and 14% for.
Chloe Pleznac: What about local elections? Two seats were unopposed. Senator Jesse Kiehl and District 4 Representative Andi Story both won another term, but incumbent District 3 Representative Sara Hannan faced undeclared opponent Darrel Harmon. Was that a close race?
Mark Sabbatini: This was definitely not a close race. Sara got about 80% of the vote, Darrel about 20. And he admits he really wasn’t a very active campaigner. He made very little effort in the initial final phase of the campaign. Towards the end he was handing out some flyers and had a website, but he admitted he was only there to give people something to tick on the ballot if they didn’t want to vote for the incumbent.
Chloe Pleznac: Thank you for taking the time, Markus.
Mark Sabbatini: Thank you for the invitation.