After months of TV and radio advertisements, texts, calls, and mailers the 2020 election is finally over, at least here in Alaska. So what happened and what happens next?
Alaska continued its decades long support of the Republican candidate for president and voted for President Donald Trump over now President-elect Joe Biden by 10 percent.
There were two federal Congressional races and Alaskans clearly chose to return the incumbents, Congressman Don Young and Senator Dan Sullivan, to Washington D.C. In an unusual twist, both challengers Alyse Galvin and Dr. Alan Gross outraised and out spent the incumbents. Despite the clear financial advantage for the challengers both incumbents won by wide margins.
There were 11 new members elected to the 40 member Alaska State House, eight Republicans one Democrat and two Independents. Overall, the Republicans lost two seats ending with 21 elected House members, the Democrats picked up one seat ending with 15 elected House members and there are four independents. However, those numbers and classifications don’t tell the whole story as rural house members with a mix of party affiliation have aligned for purposes of organization. At the time of writing no group has been able to put together the necessary 21 votes to organize the House into leadership positions and committee chairs necessary to begin work in January. While I will not predict winners here regardless of who puts a majority together it is safe to say that the House will be fairly divided philosophically.
While there are two new members in the Senate, both are Republicans replacing Republicans. The overall numbers have not changed and we will see 13 Republicans and 7 Democrats for the upcoming legislature. While it is expected that the Republicans will organize a majority they continue discussions on what that will ultimately look like. With strong diverse views within the Senate there remains an outside chance of a bi-partisan coalition forming a majority.
There were two ballot initiatives. Ballot Measure One which would have significantly increased oil taxes was overwhelmingly defeated posting the largest vote margin of any statewide race. Ballot Measure Two narrowly passed and will result in Alaska changing its election system to “ranked voting” going forward. Ranked voting will allow voters to select more than one candidate and rank them preferentially. The candidate with the fewest votes will drop off and their votes will then be allocated to their second choice. This process happens unless or until a candidate receives a majority of the votes. Expect lots more discussion and education on this major change to Alaska’s election system over the next two years.
By law Governor Dunleavy will release his initial Fiscal Year 2022 budget by December 15 and Alaska’s 32nd Legislature will convene on January 19, 2021.
Link to Alaska State Legislature with bill search: http://w3.akleg.gov/index.php