Alaska campaign roundup: Early voting continues and candidates campaign - and evade questions - at rally

With less than two days to Election Day, candidates were busy Sunday making their final appeals to voters and drumming up support among their faithful. Election officials across the state are manning over 150 early voting locations on Monday, before Election Day polling places open on Tuesday.

Thousands have voted and early-voting continues Monday

More than 64,000 Alaskans have already voted in the November election as of Sunday afternoon. Thousands more are expected to cast their ballots before polling places close Tuesday.

Many early voting locations across the state will be open Monday for voters hoping to beat the Election Day rush. The Division of Elections has a list of early voting locations and hours on their website.

People voting by mail must have their ballots postmarked on or before Election Day. If you haven’t dropped your ballot off yet, you should consider taking it directly to a post office to have it hand canceled to ensure it is counted.

Polling places will be open on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 8, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters can find the location of their polling place — which may have changed since the last election — on the Division of Elections website.

[As Election Day nears, a final push for votes in Alaska’s statewide campaigns]

First results are expected Tuesday around 9 p.m., but most race outcomes won’t be final until the last ballots are received and counted, and ranked choice ballots are tabulated, on Nov. 23.


GOP candidates evade questions at Sunday ABT rally

Republican candidates gathered Sunday at the Anchorage Baptist Temple to give their final pitch to voters — but some declined to speak to reporters.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy made a fleeting appearance at the event sponsored by the Alaska Republican Party before making a quick escape. The governor has been largely absent from the campaign trail recently since participating in a debate three weeks before Election Day. During his four-minute speech, Dunleavy said the election is “going to be one of the most important if not the most important in our life.”

“We have the numbers here in the state of Alaska. That’s why we’re still right-of-center, that’s why we’re still a red state,” Dunleavy said. “But only if we exercise our right — and I say, our obligation — to vote.”

Moments after Dunleavy left the stage, an Anchorage Daily News reporter asked him for an interview. “Sure,” the governor said. But then his campaign spokesperson Andrew Jensen wordlessly motioned for Dunleavy to leave the room and led him down a hallway, accompanied by campaign manager Jordan Shilling and Shannon Mason, a staff member from the governor’s office. Both Jensen and Mason did not respond to calls following the incident.

Nancy Dahlstrom, Dunleavy’s running mate, attended the event but did not make any onstage comments. When approached by a reporter for an interview, she too was whisked away by a campaign aide.

Nick Begich and Sarah Palin — two Republicans vying for the same U.S. House seat currently held by Democrat Rep. Mary Peltola — both spoke at the event to drum up support among Republicans against a backdrop of the party’s “rank the red” message.

Begich, who has pivoted away from his attacks targeting his Republican opponent and toward criticizing Peltola, said all Republican candidates are “singing from the same song book.”

Begich attended the Sunday service earlier that morning at the Anchorage Baptist Temple. Palin attended the Sunday service the week prior.

Palin returned from a trip to New York City in time to “crash the party” — as she called it. The former governor was not initially invited to the event by Alaska Republican Party leadership, but decided to show up anyway and made quick onstage remarks.

“United we stand, divided we fall,” she told an audience composed of Republican legislative candidates, their families and party insiders, including Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson. “Republicans, come on, let’s get it together. Let’s get along.”

Days earlier, Palin was asked during an in-studio Newsmax interview why she had left the state so close to the election. she responded by baselessly attacking local news outlets.

“Because our local media — not only have they gone so far as relishing in fake news and criticizing and spinning things up that I and other conservatives up there engage in — even worse, they just ignore us. There’s no coverage, certainly anything positive,” Palin said. “So I have to do national interviews in order to get Alaskans to hear what the word is.”

Palin’s campaign manager Kris Perry has ignored or not responded to several separate interview requests from the Anchorage Daily News since September.

Following the event on Sunday, Palin walked away from a gaggle of local reporters hoping to speak with her. “No final message?” a television reporter called after her as she walked quickly across a parking lot toward her car.

“Final message? It’s not over!” Palin shouted back before driving away.

Other candidates keep busy

The Republican faithful weren’t the only ones rallying Sunday afternoon. Independent candidate for governor Bill Walker hosted a rally with running mate Heidi Drygas in Anchorage on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent Republican running for re-election against Trump-endorsed candidate Kelly Tshibaka, skipped out on the Republican soiree for what Murkowski called the “family fun bus” — a campaigning trip with relatives, including former governor and Senator Frank Murkowski, with stops in Girdwood and Whittier.

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Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The AP and Report for America and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at isamuels@adn.com.