A dozen incumbents to run unopposed

Alaskans love to complain about their politicians, but when push comes to shove, at election time, there aren’t a lot of people willing to step up to replace them.

Four state senators and eight state House members, the bulk of them Democrats, have no opponents in either the primary or general elections, although there may be two unaffiliated candidates approved for the general election in one House race and one Senate race.

The Division of Elections must still have signatures approved for those to be official.

Otherwise there were few surprises in the filings for 2014 Alaska elections on June 2, the deadline for candidates to put their names on the ballots.

In the high-stakes race for U.S. Senate, the contest remains mainly between Sen. Mark Begich, the Democratic incumbent, and three Republicans vying to face him: current Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, former state Natural Resources Commissioner and Attorney General Dan Sullivan, and Joe Miller, a Fairbanks attorney who won the GOP nomination over Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2010 but lost to her write-in campaign that November.

There had been speculation that former Gov. Sarah Palin might jump into the race but Palin did not appear June 2.

There are two Libertarians, two Alaska Independence Party candidates, two other Republican and one other Democrat in the U.S. Senate fray.

In the governor’s race, it still mainly seems a contest between incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, Byron Mallott, an Alaska Native leader. Former Valdez Mayor Bill Walker is also in the race as an independent and will appear on the November ballot.

Among the filing for legislative races, what’s interesting is how many incumbents are unopposed or virtually unopposed, and that most of them are Democrats.

In the state House, eight incumbents for 40 seats up for grabs have no opponents in primary or general elections. They include seven Democrats and one Republican.

In the 20-member Senate, three Democratic state senators and one Republican senator have no opponents in either election, although a “nonaffiliated” (or independent) candidate will oppose the Republican senator in November general election.

Among the unopposed senators are Democratic Sen. Berta Gardner, in her midtown Anchorage Senate District I and Republican Sen. Peter Micciche, in Senate District O on the Kenai Peninsula. Micchiche is unopposed in the primary election but Eric Treider, a Soldotna resident, has filed as a non-affiliated candidate for the general election. The Division of Electrics is awaiting his signature verification before making it official.

Democrat Sen. Lyman Hoffman, in Senate District S in Southwest Alaska and Sen. Donny Olson, a Democrat, in Senate District T, in Northwest Alaska, are unopposed.

In state House races, Rep. Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, has no Republican or Democratic opponent in either election but Verne Rupright, a Wasilla resident and a non-affiliated candidate, has filed to have his name appear on the general election ballot opposing Gattis. The Division of Elections is awaiting a signature verification before making this official, however.

Democratic incumbents in three Anchorage districts, Rep. Andy Josephson in District 17, Rep. Harriet Drummond in District 18, and Rep. Chris Tuck in District 23, have no opponents in either primary or general elections.

In Homer, Rep. Paul Seaton has no opponent in his District 31. Rep. Bryce Edgmon in District 37, in Dillingham, faces no opponent. In Bethel, Democratic Rep. Bob Herron, in District 39, faces no opponent, and neither does Rep. Neal Foster, Democrat, in District 39 based in Nome.

Two interesting races are shaping up in Interior Alaska, where incumbent Republican Sen. Click Bishop has a strong primary election opponent, former state senator and Senate President Mike Miller, a North Pole businessman, in his reelection bid in Senate District C.

In Interior District 3, mainly the east Fairbanks and North Pole areas, two Republican incumbents were put together in the 2013 redistricting — Reps. Doug Isaacson and Tammie Wilson. Both are now opposing each other in bids for reelection. A Democrat is contending for that seat also, Sharron Hunter of North Pole.

In Northwest and Northern Alaska District 40, incumbent Rep. Ben Nageak of Barrow, a Democrat, is opposed by Dean Westlake of Kotzebue, also a Democrat.

This district spans the North Slope and Northwest Alaska regions and the legislative races are generally between candidates from the two population centers, Barrow and Kotzebue.

11/21/2016 - 3:11pm