Before the 2014 election, Alaska enacted a procedure to allow candidates to run with multiple party designations. Earlier this month, the State Division of Elections director reversed the practice and ruled that only major party designations would appear next to a candidate’s name on the ballot.
At-large congressional candidate Alyse Galvin, who wants to run as a NP (Non-Partisan)/ Democrat was denied that full ballot designation, meaning she would appear only as the Democratic nominee. She sued in court to overturn the administrative ruling. Ms. Galvin won at the lower court level and since the state Supreme Court refused to hear the case yesterday, the lower ruling stands, so the original designation now returns for Ms. Galvin. Senate candidate Al Gross is also affected in similar manner. The lower court ruling said it would be an undue burden on the state to be forced to re-print all of the ballots at this point in time with the altered party identifications, hence the basis for their decision.
Last week the director of the Alaska Division of Elections ruled that no longer would a split party designation appear on the state ballot. This means that congressional candidate Alyse Galvin will appear only as the Democratic nominee and not as a Democrat/Independent. Now, Ms. Galvin has filed a lawsuit challenging the ruling citing her long-standing status as an unaffiliated voter.
As a result of the lawsuit, presiding state judge Jennifer Henderson has halted ballot production until the case is resolved. At this point, however, according to the Anchorage Daily News, over 800,000 ballots have already been mailed. The state of Alaska then officially filed a motion to the State Supreme Court, asking for an emergency ruling before 6 pm local time today, so that ballot production can resume or the re-printing process can begin.
The director of the Alaska Division of Elections has the power to rule on ballot designations, and Gail Fenumiai yesterday ruled that candidates can only be identified with one party ballot designation. Before, Unaffiliateds were allowed to combine with a major party nominee. Now, both US Senate candidate Al Gross and at-large House contender Alyse Galvin will run only as Democrats on the November ballot instead of Independent/Democrat as was their previously intended party designation.
Public Policy Polling, without using the push questions they often employ, report a 43-43% tie between first-term Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) and Anchorage surgeon Al Gross (I/D) from their just-released survey (8/27-28; 638 AK voters). This is a typical reading in Alaska, the electorate from which usually polls close. At this time in Mr. Sullivan’s 2014 race, he trailed then-Sen. Mark Begich (D) by 41-36% (Hays Research for the AFL-CIO) and 45-40% (Harstad Strategic Research) margins between September 7-14, only to rally and score a 48-46% win to unseat the Democratic incumbent.
Three states had approved ballot referendums to change their primary system to the unique “Top Four” system that would allow the first four finishing candidates in a jungle primary advance into the general election. The four candidates would then be ranked 1-4 in the general in order to determine a winner.
It now appears that only one state, Alaska, will have the referendum on the ballot. Judges in North Dakota and Arkansas have nullified their respective election referendums because of qualification process technical flaws. Therefore, the primary system in these two latter states will remain constant for at least another election cycle.
Referendums in Alaska and North Dakota have qualified for the general election ballot in which voters will decide if they want to change their nominating process from a traditional partisan primary into a unique four-way system. The idea is a hybrid between the top-two and Ranked Choice Voting procedures.
The proposal suggests all candidates be placed on the same primary ballot regardless of political party affiliation, as is the case in the top-two jungle primary format. Instead of two candidates advancing into the general election, four would. In the general, voters would then rank the four candidates from 1-4, with the general election winner obtaining the most first place votes.
As expected, Anchorage surgeon Al Gross easily won the Alaska Democratic primary with 75% of the vote and advances into the general election to challenge Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) in November. In the House race, at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon) will again face education reform activist Alyse Galvin (I/D). In 2018, the two battled to a 53-46% Young victory margin. Both were re-nominated last night with vote totals exceeding 77 percent.
Nomination elections are occurring today in Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming. The Alaska federal elections are virtually set. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) will face a challenge from Independent/Democrat Al Gross, an Anchorage surgeon. In the House race, at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon) will officially find himself in a re-match with education reform activist Alyse Galvin (I/D). In 2018, Rep. Young was re-elected with a 53-46% victory margin.
In Florida, we see action in eight congressional districts including two Republican open seats that will nominate candidates certain to become prohibitive favorites to replace retiring Reps. Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville) and Francis Rooney (R-Naples). The open Wyoming Senate race will also be decided and former US Rep. Cynthia Lummis, armed with President Trump’s support, appears a lock to win both the Republican nomination tonight and the general election in November.
A just released Alaska Survey Research firm poll (6/26-7/7; 716 AK registered voters; 663 likely general election voters) counters the recent Public Policy Polling (7/7-8; 1,081 AK voters) data in projecting first-term Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) ahead of surgeon Al Gross (I/D) 53-40%. This contrasts to the PPP result that found the Senator leading only 39-34%. Alaska is a difficult place to poll, so seeing companion surveys with markedly different results is not particularly unusual for this state’s politics.
The Alaska Public Policy Polling survey (7/7-8; 1,081 AK voters via automated response device) also produced a ballot test in the at-large House race between veteran Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the Dean of the House in seniority who was elected in a 1973 special election, and challenger Alyse Galvin, the 2018 Democratic nominee who fell seven percentage points short of unseating the Congressman, 53-46%. The PPP poll actually finds Ms. Galvin running ahead 43-41% in the new campaign, but such a position is not altogether unusual. In the 2018 campaign, the last poll before the election actually projected Ms. Galvin to a slight one-point advantage.
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