On Tuesday, Alaska went through its primary election for several important state races: congressional representative, governor / lt. governor, legislative representative and senator. Across the U.S., there have been talks about how the 2016 presidential election, the rise of the #metoo and women's movement, and #bluewave / #redwave are all influencing elections across the country. In Alaska, all of this national political turmoil is met with our own state's problems. Alaska is facing a large budget deficit which has been open for years, and Alaskans have been split over what the right thing to do about it is. One solution that Governor Walker (who is seeking re-election as an independent in the general) pursued was cutting Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). The PFD is a sum of money given to all Alaskan residents that is funded by oil revenue, and has been called by different sides as a "handout" and a model for "universal income". Cutting the PFD means that Gov. Walker withheld a portion of the money given to Alaskans from the amount calculated by a formula written in statute. The funding went to fill the budget gap, which in 2018 was $2.7 billion.
This is all to say that Alaska's elections are as contentious as they are important, and many people are split on the issues. On Tuesday, we had several upsets hit as the polling numbers rolled in. Mike Dunleavy won the Republican bid for governor and Mark Begich the Democratic bid; their wins mean that they will both face incumbent Governor Walker in the general on November 6th. Polls have shown that in a 3-way race, Begich and Walker might split the vote, resulting in a win for former Sen. Dunleavy. Several legislative districts resulted in shifts too, with newcomers unseating longtime legislative leaders in the primaries. In the congressional race, Alyse Galvin (I) won the Democratic nomination and will face long-time incumbent Rep. Don Young (R).
Absentee and mail-in ballots are still being counted, but overall, the state primary was a nail biter. The next two and a half months will likely be filled with as much excitement as the primary itself was. On November 6th, a lot is at stake.