Now that most of the dust has settled for the first round of the Anchorage Municipal Elections in March and April, what happened? More importantly, what did we learn? Actual results as of April 12 can be found here.
- Mayoral candidates Dave Bronson and Forrest Dunbar are headed for a runoff
- All conservative school board candidates lost
- The recall of Felix Rivera failed
Why the outcome?
For Anchorage Mayor, Dave Bronson ended up with 33% of the 67,000 votes cast. The three primary conservative candidates ended up with 49.5% of all votes cast. Forrest Dunbar got 31% of all votes cast. Dunbar plus the other 11 candidates ended up with 50.5% of the remaining votes, so we are headed for a runoff.
Candidates Bill Falsey, George Martinez, Bill Evans and Mike Robbins, who all had a reasonable campaign footprint with ads and signs did not break the 10% barrier other than Falsey with almost 14%. Robbins’ personal issues likely hurt his support as there are reports that his name was crossed out on a number of ballots that ended up going for Bronson.
Analysis of the four School Board seat elections show the largest problem is neither conservative splitting the vote nor election fraud via mail-in voting. Rather, the reason all four seats were lost was due to undervoting. Essentially, Republicans who voted for mayor did not bother to vote down ballot for the school board seats.
For instance, Seat B where Kelly Lessens beat Judy Eledge by a mere 92 votes, there were 8,814 people who voted for mayor who did not mark a school board candidate. Seat F where incumbent Pat Higgins beat Sami Graham by 374 votes had an undervote of 9,123. Seat F had Dora Wilson beating Kim Paulson by a respectable 6,338 had an undervote of 10,049. A third candidate in this race running as a conservative, Marcus Sanders had 9,097 votes. Finally, Seat G which was a head-to-head race had Carl Jacobs beating incumbent Elisa Vakalis by 1,299. Undervote here was a whopping 11,481.
Bottom line for conservatives? Vote the whole bloody ballot! Otherwise, you’re doing it wrong.
There is another observation given that 3 of the 4 races were under the 45%+1 threshold for mayoral runoffs. Perhaps it is time to apply that same criteria to both Assembly and School Board elections.
The final observation came from the Felix Rivera recall, something that failed by 1,416 votes. It is relatively easy to get something on the ballot. But that is only half the battle, as once it is on the ballot, you have to actually run a campaign and WIN the election, something that seems to escape those of us on the political right from time to time.
Blaming this entire mess on election fraud and ballot harvesting like both Dan Fagan and Judy Eledge have done over the last couple weeks is incorrect. It is not election fraud. Rather it is lazy Republican voters, who handed four School Board seats to the unions and political left because they did not vote the entire ballot below their selection for mayor.
Analysis of mail-in ballot returns to drop boxes city-wide over the last couple elections has not demonstrated a significant tell for election fraud here in Anchorage, although the detailed cross-database forensic analysis has not been as yet done. All we know is that there is not a significant difference in the number of ballots at various drop boxes between April’s election and that in 2020.
While we do have more registered voters than eligible voters statewide, that is more of an artifact of the Bill Clinton 1993 Motor Voter legislation than anything else. That legislation made it a long, excruciating process to remove people who have moved or are no longer alive from the election rolls. Here in Alaska, that process begins 3 years after the last time a voter voted or signed a petition, and ends up to six years later, nearly a decade.
What would I do about this?
- Concentrate on turning out your voters. Never allow a substantial undervote again.
- Stay far, far away from recalls, and most ballot initiatives unless you have money in the bank beforehand to win the election after the question is put on the ballot.
- Republicans and conservatives need to vote smarter and never again ignore the rest of the down-ballot races. The unions and political left are far better and more disciplined than Our Side on this.
- Spend a lot less time on recalls and a lot more time and effort actually electing Our Candidates in the first place.
- Consider applying the 45%+1 runoff requirement to all Muni Assembly and School Board races.
There will be a runoff for mayor. It should be an ugly campaign, with Forrest Dunbar already accusing Dave Bronson of campaign finance violations. Jeez, Forrest, is that all you’ve got for an opening bid?
Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.