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2018 Battleground Election Preview: Alaska

By Max Rieper | September 18, 2018

Alaksa Election Preview Map

Alaska is one of 10 states that are most likely to see a change in party control in one or both state legislative chambers after elections on November 6. Although Republicans hold more House seats than Democrats, the Democrats actually control the chamber. The House has 21 Republicans, 17 Democrats, and two Independents, but Democrats formed a coalition with the Independents and three Republicans, electing Democrat Bryce Edgmon as House Speaker.

With all 40 House seats up for election this year, their coalition could be in jeopardy if just a single seat flips. Four Democrats and all three Independents are in districts expected to be among the most competitive. The chances of Republicans taking over may have taken a hit however, when two sitting House members lost their primary elections, including House Minority Leader Charisse Millett.

Other incumbents barely won their primary elections, including Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche, who led a Senate with 14 Republicans and six Democrats. Ten of those 20 seats will be up for election this November, with seven held by Republicans in districts that President Donald Trump easily won.

Voters have expressed dissatisfaction with reductions in their annual Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks, which distribute tax revenues from oil. The check amounts were set by a formula until 2016, when Governor Bill Walker (I) strayed from the formula to reduce the payments as oil revenues declined. Voter dissatisfaction over being shut out of the decision-making process could hurt incumbent legislators, as well as Walker, who is running for reelection. However, Walker, who was once a Republican but won as an Independent four years ago, has seen his approval rating bounce back somewhat after it plummeted when he reduced the dividend checks. Still, he remains one of the most unpopular governors in America running for reelection.

Challenging Walker is former state Senator Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, and former U.S. Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat. Some have called for Begich to drop out of the race, concerned that he would siphon off votes from Walker, but Begich has announced his intention to stay in the race now that the deadline to remove candidates from the ballot has passed. A poll earlier this summer showed that Dunleavy would lose a two-way race against either Walker or Begich, but would win a three-way race. There are no other state executive offices up for election except lieutenant governor, where candidates run on a combined ticket with gubernatorial candidates.

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