LaFrance and allies ‘confident’ in her lead over Bronson following Wednesday vote count in Anchorage mayoral election

As ballots continue to be tallied in Anchorage’s runoff election, former Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance is holding her lead over Mayor Dave Bronson.

On Wednesday, an additional 8,767 ballots were added to the full count of 59,786 ballots, giving LaFrance 54% of the vote to Bronson’s 46%.

Ballots are still being received, processed, and tallied by election officials. They’d received and sorted a total of 70,401 ballot packages as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Several thousand more ballots cast by voters Tuesday had not yet been sorted — at the election center, more than two dozen trays containing around 200 ballots each sat on racks, awaiting processing — and more ballots will trickle in through the mail system over the next several days.

The latest results showed LaFrance’s lead narrowing slightly from election night — from 10 points Tuesday to 8 points Wednesday.

“I’m still feeling excited about these initial results, and also the great energy from election night last night,” LaFrance said in a Wednesday interview after the results were posted. “We will be tracking additional results. And you know, we’re not calling anything yet, but I can say that we’re confident and optimistic about our position right now.”

Bronson campaign coordinator Blake Stieren declined to comment on the latest round of results.


But by Wednesday morning, people who worked with the campaigns or were aligned with them said it will be hard to impossible for Bronson to overcome his vote deficit and pull off a win.

“We don’t see a recent election under the vote by mail system where the end result has shifted by more than five points from the election night result to the final result,” said John-Henry Heckendorn, managing partner of the Ship Creek Group, a political firm that worked on the LaFrance campaign. “And typically it’s more like a shift of one to two points.”

He pointed to the 2022 municipal elections, when conservative candidates benefited from vote-shifts ranging from 2% to 5% after the initial returns came out. Even though the margins in some races for Assembly and School Board seats shrank, no leads were reversed.

[Earlier coverage: LaFrance leads Bronson in Anchorage mayoral runoff]

Speaking to supporters at his campaign headquarters Tuesday night after preliminary results came out, Bronson said that “this is well within the realm of changing,” and vowed to wait until more votes had been counted to concede defeat or claim victory.

“Bronson’s talking about doubling the high-water mark for vote shifts,” Heckendorn said.

Results can flip in very tight races where the margin between candidates is close. That was the case in the 2021 runoff when Bronson initially trailed then-Assembly member Forrest Dunbar by 114 votes. But a conservative skew in late votes meant that each batch of ballots added to the vote total helped Bronson, and by the time of certification he’d not only overtaken Dunbar but expanded his lead to 1,193 votes.

That kind of switcheroo, however, is unlikely to take place this time around.

“The size of the delta right now — 10 points — it’s just a lot to overcome,” said Joelle Hall, president of the Alaska AFL-CIO and treasurer of an independent expenditure group supporting LaFrance. Hall was speaking Wednesday morning, before the latest preliminary results were released. Hall added that she expects another 30,000 or so ballots are outstanding.

Those ballots “would have to have a radically different composition in order to really move that trendline down,” she said.

“At some point, this becomes a mathematical equation,” said political consultant Matt Shuckerow, who did some work for Bronson’s reelection effort but was not speaking on behalf of the campaign Wednesday.

“If you assume ballot returns of 90,000, the Bronson campaign would need to receive approximately 56.5% of all remaining votes cast in their favor. Based on the ballot returns Anchorage saw last night, that is a very difficult hill to climb,” Shuckerow said midday.

Recent history is also not on Bronson’s side.

“The past is prologue,” said consultant Jim Lottsfeldt, who worked with the LaFrance campaign.

He pointed out that if you look over most of Anchorage’s recent municipal elections and compare the results from the first night and the results from 10 days later, “it just didn’t change very much. The proportionality stayed.”

The dynamic runs counter to a local political axiom that conservatives tend to vote later, which means that early returns tilt more liberal but are corrected rightward as more ballots are tallied. But after Anchorage voters have had several years to get accustomed to vote-by-mail elections, that trend has waned. Political partisans and people especially plugged in to local elections may tend to vote early, Lottsfeldt said, but most middle-of-the-road voters cast ballots throughout the election window all the way up until the last day.

“People vote when they vote,” he said.


The likelihood that late-counted ballots will skew heavily enough in Bronson’s favor to melt LaFrance’s lead, he said, has little basis in recent electoral realities.

“I just don’t think there’s going to be much of a change,” Lottsfeldt said.

Curing ballots

Runoff election results will not be official until certification by the Assembly, which is scheduled for May 31.

Voters who receive a cure letter due to a signature problem have until May 29 at 4 p.m. to fix the issue in order for their ballot to count. Election officials mail voters a cure letter when the ballot envelope is missing the voter’s signature, and when the voter’s signature can’t be verified.

Voters can cure signature problems in three ways: by mailing back their cure letter via the U.S. Postal Service, by going to the election center, or by using TXT2Cure with their smartphone.

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