Menard, Wagoner upset in GOP primaries
Incumbent Republican state Sens. Linda Menard and Tom Wagoner were upset in their respective primary races.
Menard, of Wasilla, lost on Tuesday to Mike Dunleavy, the Matanuska-Susitna School Board president who garnered support from Alaska Family Action and the tea party-style Conservative Patriots Group. With all precincts reporting in Senate District D, Dunleavy had 58 percent and Menard, 42 percent.
Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche defeated Wagoner, of Kenai, in the Senate District O race. With all precincts reporting, Micciche had 59.5 percent and Wagoner had 40.5 percent.
Wagoner and Menard are members of the Senate's bipartisan majority coalition, which is comprised of 10 Democrats and six Republicans. The chairman of the state GOP and other Republicans have made breaking up the coalition a priority. The senators' involvement in the group was an issue in both races.
Meanwhile, former Labor Commissioner Click Bishop won the GOP primary for an open Senate seat. With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Bishop had 49 percent, former state Sen. Ralph Seekins had 30 percent and David Eastman, 21 percent, in what was the most expensive Senate race of the primary. Seekins, a car dealer, poured tens of thousands of his own dollars into the race.
"I'm surprised," Bishop said of the results. "I knew I had a race on my hands right from the get-go and I've been running scared from Day One and working hard every day and not taking anything for granted."
Bishop will face Democrat Anne Sudkamp in November for the Senate District C seat. The district stretches from Fairbanks to Valdez.
Wagoner said he's not sure what happened in his race. "We thought we did everything very well, ran things very positive," he said. He accused Micciche of running a negative campaign — something Micciche denies — and said his loss could have been a reaction to his being in the coalition, an association Wagoner had expressed mixed feelings about having.
"If I had it to do over again, I would do it all the same," he said of his campaign.
Micciche said Wagoner is a good man, who served "honorably" for 10 years in the Senate. "But I think folks have been frustrated with the lack of forward progress due to the bipartisan coalition in the Senate," he said. Micciche said he can work across the aisle "but I believe in an aisle," and he said he would not be part of a Democratic-led coalition.
Neither Dunleavy nor Micciche faces any Democratic opposition come November though there's always the potential for a write-in candidacy. Wagoner said that's not for him. "We had a contest, and I lost," he said.
In other races, with all precincts reporting, Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, held off Jeff Landfield in the GOP primary for Senate District K. Rep. Peggy Wilson emerged victorious from a three-way Republican race in House District 33. And Sen. Bettye Davis, D-Anchorage, was leading former state Rep. Harry Crawford in the Senate District M race.