Richard Mauer

With two dull campaigns from the major party candidates and an independent trying to prove he’s relevant and electable, the talk so far about the 2014 governor’s race is less about issues than the notion that three people are running.

While Alaska has always had its share of fringe candidates populating the outer reaches of the ballot, it also has a history of flirting with real three-way gubernatorial contests. Since 1978, independent or third-party candidates have made strong showings in all but two elections and likely affected the outcomes in several. In 1990, the third-party candidate, Wally Hickel, beat his two main party rivals and won a four-year term...

Richard Mauer

A test of a new Army weapon failed 4 seconds into flight from the Kodiak Launch Complex early Monday when the rocket went awry and was blown to bits by flight controllers.

The fiery end to the rocket short-circuited the second test of a hypersonic glider designed to fly so fast it can reach anywhere on the globe in about an hour. The test target was the U.S. missile facility on Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, about 4,000 miles away.

Debris from the three-stage, solid-fuel launch vehicle rained down on the state-owned launch facility. No one was injured but buildings were damaged, said Craig Campbell, president and chief executive officer of Alaska Aerospace Corp ...

Richard Mauer,Laurel Andrews

Byron Mallott said Saturday that if elected governor in November he would lower the state’s student loan rate and forgive education loans for students who stay in Alaska.

At an outdoor news conference near West Anchorage High School, Democrat Mallott also said he would push “forward funding” of education so local school districts could better plan their programs. He said he would promote technology and high-speed Internet in state schools.

“Education has been my highest priority as a gubernatorial candidate,” Mallott said, his voice barely audible above the noisy traffic passing by the school.

Mallott’s campaign also announced Saturday it had picked up the endorsement of retired Anchorage School District superintendent Carol Comeau...

Richard Mauer

As predicted earlier this week by its president, Alaska’s umbrella labor organization on Friday withheld an endorsement for governor out of concern that the current three-way race will inevitably end in an easy re-election victory for Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

Vince Beltrami, president of the Alaska AFL-CIO, said more than 100 delegates to the AFL-CIO convention in Fairbanks decided against endorsing either the Democrat, Byron Mallott, or the independent, Anchorage attorney Bill Walker.

But the delegates directed the AFL-CIO’s executive council to convene Sept. 4 to reconsider the issue, Beltrami said.

“In the event that there’s some change in the lineup, we’ll have the opportunity to change (the endorsement) on Sept. 4,” Beltrami said...

Richard Mauer

The state’s top union official said Wednesday he doesn’t believe the Alaska AFL-CIO will endorse anyone for governor if the two leading challengers to Gov. Sean Parnell can’t agree to merge their campaigns, with one becoming the other's lieutenant governor.

With Democrat Byron Mallott so far having failed to catch fire among Alaskans and Bill Walker running a strong -- but losing -- race as an independent, polls have shown that Republican Parnell would cruise to re-election in a three-way contest in November...

Richard Mauer

Alaska voters were narrowly rejecting the repeal of Senate Bill 21 in Tuesday’s election, with a four-point margin between the side that would toss out the 2013 oil tax reform bill and the side that would retain it. With nearly all precincts -- more than 98 percent -- counted, the campaign against the measure and in favor of keeping current oil taxes led by nearly 6,800 votes, out of the more than 153,000 cast...

Richard Mauer

Alaskans will issue a final decision Tuesday on a controversial new oil tax regime, and pick a Republican challenger to Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

Tuesday’s decisions come after the most expensive primary campaign in Alaska history, with the referendum on a 2013 oil tax cut drawing some $15 million in spending, almost entirely from industry groups trying to keep the new tax system in place, and more than $15 million from the campaigns of the GOP Senate candidates, along with their allies and opponents.

Voters will also choose party nominees for state races and a dozen races for seats in the state Legislature.

Statewide, more than 400 polling places open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, and close at 8 p.m...

Nathaniel Herz,Alex DeMarban,Richard Mauer

Redistricting, retirements and departures are already remaking the Republican-led House, and competitive races in Tuesday’s primary could lead to an even bigger shakeup months before the November general election determines the makeup of the Alaska Legislature.

In North Pole, two sitting Republican House members, two-termer Tammie Wilson and freshman Doug Isaacson, both conservatives, found themselves pitted against each other in District 3 after redistricting. In the all-important category of fundraising they are nearly even, so each has about the same opportunity to reach voters through advertising, mailers and signs...

Richard Mauer

Two big Alaska unions on Wednesday announced their support for repeal of the oil tax cut in next week's referendum, signaling a split in the Alaska labor movement on the issue after four other major unions joined the coalition opposing repeal in June.

The new announcements, by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547 and the Alaska State Employees Association, came with pledges of $20,000 from each union to the cash-strapped but volunteer-rich Vote Yes campaign. The election is Tuesday, and a big group of Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway volunteers were at the IBEW union hall in Midtown Anchorage for the announcements...

Richard Mauer

The oil industry and its allies may still have overwhelming superiority in campaign resources for the Aug. 19 oil-tax referendum, but a late surge in fundraising by the side that wants to repeal tax cuts passed in 2013 is now putting ads into newspapers and on the radio.

The leading “vote yes” organization is collecting dozens of small contributions from Alaskans and still has volunteers going door-to-door and identifying potential voters in a “ground game.”

But two recent $100,000 contributions from former grocer Barney Gottstein have nearly doubled its fundraising and extended its reach to the media, formerly the exclusive province of industry-led “no” groups. Gottstein had previously given $74,000 to the “yes” campaign...

Richard Mauer