Alaska independents vying for Republican thrones as election day nears

Big money flowing into the state in hopes of swaying independent voters
Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 5:31 AM AKDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - There are just six days until the general election and Alaska’s races are catching the eye of the nation. The conservative state with an independent streak has tight House and Senate races that are causing an influx of political spending in the state.

“Alaska is anybody’s game,” said Chris Meagher, deputy communications director at the Democratic National Committee.

This game is in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. Alyse Galvin is working to unseat Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the longest serving member in the House of Representatives, and Dr. Al Gross is looking to put Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) out of a job after just one term. Meagher says though these challengers are not running as Democrats, he’s hoping they can make a dent in Republican power.

“Talking about expanding the map into places where we weren’t expected to be playing but I think there’s a lot of momentum and energy in Alaska,” said Meagher.

Alaska’s uniqueness as a state fosters independent streaks, but it certainly is a conservative fortress considering all three federal representatives are Republican and the state went for Donald Trump by 15 points in 2016. Despite these numbers, the Trump campaign says they’re not dismissing the challenge.

“Act like we’re down even if we’re not. We should hustle and grind and earn the vote of every American, and in this case every Alaskan,” said Steve Cortes, the Trump 2020 senior strategic advisor.

The latest polls show a lead for Republicans. But University of Alaska political expert Jim Muller says money continues to flow into the state for their opponents who are targeting independent voters.

“Everybody has seen these ads in the newspapers, on TV, on their computers,” said Muller.

He says independent candidate ads are running more often than Republican ads, which makes sense considering Gross has raked in way more cash than Sullivan. Muller says the independents, while largely aligned with Democrat policies, are not attaching the party name because it might scare Alaskans away. He argues if Gross and Galvin hope to unseat these popular incumbents, they will have to convince voters they truly are free thinkers.

“Candidates try to show that they’re real Alaskans and that they have some independence from political parties,” said Muller.

Early voting in Alaska began on October 19th. The general election will take place on November third.

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