Anchorage mayor’s race heads to second round, with Bronson and LaFrance set for May runoff

Incumbent Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson and former Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance appeared headed to a runoff election next month after the first round of election results were posted Tuesday.

Under city rules, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election in May. In Tuesday night’s preliminary results, nobody got enough votes to reach the 45% threshold. LaFrance received 36% of votes, and Bronson picked up 35%.

Two other prominent candidates, former Anchorage Economic Development Corp. leader Bill Popp and former Democratic state Rep. Chris Tuck, earned 17% and just under 8% respectively, but it was not enough to advance.

Of the remaining six candidates who filed to run, none managed to get more than a thousand votes.

For months, close election-watchers have forecast a runoff. With the order now set, campaigns will pivot to a new phase. Ballots for the second-stage contest will be mailed to qualified voters and are due back May 14 either by mail, drop box or in-person voting.

“We are confident we are going to the runoff with Bronson,” LaFrance said in remarks to supporters at a campaign event Tuesday night.

“I’m super excited about these initial results,” LaFrance said during a brief interview.


She said that in the early phase of the campaign, her team’s efforts were geared toward turnout and connecting with voters. In under a week, she told supporters, volunteers with her campaign had made more than 20,000 calls to try turning out the vote.

“We have taken nothing for granted,” LaFrance said. “To see these results is really amazing.”

Bronson’s share of the votes Tuesday was just slightly higher than his first-round results in the 2021 regular election, when he received 33% of the vote, though in a field with more self-identified conservatives. Still, he was less than 600 votes behind LaFrance on Tuesday night, with that number set to change in the days ahead as more ballots arrive for election officials to tabulate.

“We’ve always anticipated a runoff,” Bronson told reporters at his campaign headquarters. “We’ve got the money we need. We’ve definitely got the team we need.”

Bronson said he believes many of Tuck’s voters could be “natural allies” who end up supporting him in the runoff, and plans to make his case during the weeks ahead about the “ideological divides” between himself and LaFrance.

“I’ve been kind of defined by my opponents the last three years,” Bronson said, adding that he would defend himself but would not “sling mud.”

[Incumbents hold wide leads in Anchorage School Board races]

Election officials tallied 44,896 ballots on Tuesday, representing just under 19% of registered voters. Though there are thousands more ballots not yet counted, it’s extremely unlikely that Popp or Tuck could catch up, given LaFrance and Bronson’s wide leads.

“That’s a tough gap to close,” Popp said by phone Tuesday night. “I’m more than willing to admit that it’s a tough gap to close.”

Popp said he’d hoped for better results in the first round, but “we’re not ready to concede yet.” He’s planning to watch the vote counts for at least the rest of the week, he said.

“We think there’s a lot of votes to be counted yet,” Popp said, adding that he’d heard many people were voting Tuesday at city vote centers and dropping off ballots last-minute.

“We know that there was a strong turnout today. We just want to see what the numbers look like as we get into Friday, possibly Monday, depending on where the counts are,” Popp said.

It’s not yet clear exactly how many ballots remain to be counted. By 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, election workers had received and sorted a total of 51,234 ballot packages, with more stacked in locked cages not yet sorted.

Election officials have not yet tallied ballots returned by voters Tuesday afternoon and evening, and thousands more are likely to arrive by mail in the coming days.

Tuck said he’s “a little bit surprised” by the results, but “I’m really glad that we got a chance to share a message that hopefully the new mayor will pick up. And that is, really bringing people together, in the spirit of togetherness, to really solve the problems that Anchorage has.”

Tuck, who has criticized both Bronson and LaFrance during his campaign, said he won’t be endorsing either candidate in the runoff at this time. That’s because some people supporting his campaign had previously supported Bronson, and others initially leaned toward LaFrance, he said.

“We’ll just see how things shape up between the two of them to see who will catch, capture that togetherness spirit the most between now and that final outcome,” Tuck said.


As they campaigned this year, candidates often echoed the same set of issues: homelessness, the need for more affordable housing, improving the city’s economy and reversing negative demographic trends.

[Anchorage election preliminary results show voters approving all propositions except bathroom, cemetery bonds]

Bronson and LaFrance served simultaneously during the first two years of the mayor’s term. During that time, the conservative mayor’s administration was frequently at odds with the moderate-to-liberal Assembly majority, which LaFrance led. Many of those clashes over topics ranging from policy to personnel to procurement will come up in campaign rhetoric and messaging as the runoff heats up in the coming weeks.

On Tuesday, with results less than an hour old, both candidates started jabbing.

“Suzanne likes to pick on me for snow removal,” Bronson said in response to an Alaska’s News Source reporter’s question on his message to voters. “As a matter of control, if she thinks as mayor she’s gonna come in and start making snowplowing plans on her own; that’s called micromanaging and that’s precisely the last thing we want, I don’t do that.”

Bronson said that he and LaFrance have starkly different approaches to government and their visions for the city’s future, which he intends to stress to voters.

“We’re looking forward to prosecuting this campaign,” he said.

LaFrance, for her part, told a crowd of supporters that she hopes to bring together “a professional team of people who are ethical” to head her administration, and seize on opportunities to capture federal money and grant funds to improve core city services.


“The most frustrating thing is we can’t take advantage of any of that right now, because we don’t have an administration that can even just get the basics right,” she said.

As she thanked the supporters who helped her with campaign efforts, she stressed that they have much more work to do, aiming to raise another $300,000 in campaign donations and double the number of volunteers and calls to voters in the six weeks ahead.

“I will make sure that we will have a better three years ahead in Anchorage for all of us. I am determined to make that happen,” LaFrance said.

Daily News photojournalists Bill Roth and Marc Lester contributed.

Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers Anchorage government, the military, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. He also helps produce the ADN's weekly politics podcast. Prior to joining the ADN, he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at