Alaska's District 36 Republican Primary Barely Budged

I voted yes in vain, I guess.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Alaska's House District 36, the southern southeast region of the state centered on Ketchikan. On August 18th, a day before the election, I wrote urging people to vote yes on ballot measure 1.

A slight majority of Alaskans ended up voting against measure 1, convinced by the Parnell administration and the millions of dollars in campaign money spent by oil companies and their allies. Needless to say, I did not feel like writing about politics after that.

I did, however, notice a striking pattern in some of the other electoral results from that day—the District 36 Republican primary.


In the 2012 election, the city of Wrangell had been newly added to the same house district as Ketchikan. That brought Wrangell representative Peggy Wilson into competition with candidates from the much larger city of Ketchikan. Here were the results from the 2012 Republican primary:

Click to enlarge. (source)
Peggy Wilson won the primary, presumably marshaling supporters from Wrangell, and voters in Ketchikan who wanted to keep her for her experience as an incumbent. The Ketchikan candidates Patti Mackey and Agnes Moran split the remaining voters.

This year, Peggy Wilson announced she would retire. Patti Mackey and Agnes Moran announced they would run again, while Chere Klein—one of Peggy Wilson's staffers—announced she would run as well. Here were the 2014 primary results:

Click to enlarge. (source)
As you can see, the results barely budged. There were 158 fewer votes in 2014 than in 2012. Patti Mackey gained a mere 29 votes, Agnes Moran lost 75, and Chere Klein received only 112 fewer votes than Peggy Wilson had.

Just looking at these numbers, it seems Chere Klein did little more than assume her boss's mantle, receiving the support of Peggy Wilson's electorate while her opponents received almost exactly the same support as before. If you add up all the differences between 2012 and 2014, it seems only around 10% of primary voters changed their actions at all, either by switching their preference or deciding not to vote again.

With this in mind, it's worth taking a look at the results from the 2012 general election:

Click to enlarge. (source)
Peggy Wilson won quite handily against Democrat Matt Olson, and incumbent Ketchikan representative Kyle Johansen (running as a write-in) barely made an impact. This time around, though, the race should be different. There is no Democrat running this year, nor any optimistic write-in candidate. Instead, Chere Klein's only opponent will be independent Dan Ortiz.

I plan to write about the Klein-Ortiz race in the coming two months before the election. Until then, I have to get back to preparing to teach. My first day with students is this Tuesday!

Comments