Race to the runoff: Anchorage mayoral candidates eagerly await more election results

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 4:02 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage voters saw two mayoral candidates emerge as early leaders after the polls closed Tuesday and the first round of election results dropped.

Forrest Dunbar, ahead of the 15-candidate field with 3,701 votes, and Dave Bronson, just behind with 3,116 votes, appeared to be headed toward a highly anticipated runoff election — as it is unlikely any candidate will win the required 45% of the vote to become Anchorage’s next mayor.

As the evening ended, Bill Falsey had claimed 1,281 votes, Bill Evans earned 999, and Mike Robbins rounded out the top five candidates with 745 votes.

The early returns represented just over 10,000 votes, fewer than expected, and while some believe the writing on the wall is clear and expect to see Dunbar and Bronson face off in May, others say they’re holding out for more results.

“Assuming that the votes that have been counted now are not systematically different than other votes that are left outstanding, it looks like it’s going to be a runoff between myself and Mr. Bronson,” said Dunbar during an interview Tuesday evening. “And so we’ll get right back at it in the coming days of getting ready for the runoff.”

A crowd cheered inside the Bronson campaign’s watch party as the first results appeared online, with supporters believing the outcome of the race would be what they had long expected: a runoff between Bronson and Dunbar.

“If it comes to that, if we turn out to be in that position, we’re looking forward to running against him. I think we’ll do very well against Mr. Dunbar,” said Bronson shortly after the first numbers were released Tuesday evening.

He added he was feeling positive, but wanted to see more results and be respectful of any voters still in line waiting to cast a ballot.

“Things can swing wildly on election night, we’re all old enough to where we’ve seen that happen before,” said Bronson.

On Wednesday, Falsey said he was feeling good and also eager to see more results.

“I think without knowing more about what those ballots are, it’s hard to say,” said Falsey. “If they’re representative of the total population, that’s one outcome, if they’re a disproportionate share from certain precincts — we just don’t know, the clerk’s office hasn’t released that information, but I think we’ll know much more by the end of the day.”

Evans, initially in fourth place, said on Wednesday that he believed the initial results were indicative of what the final result will be.

“I don’t think anybody’s gonna catch either Forrest or Dave,” he said. “I could be wrong, but that’d be my guess.”

Evans said he does not plan on endorsing either of them.

“The way I look at it is, you know, we have this election and the voters decide who they want to hear from more, and they’ve decided it’s, you know, Dave and Forrest, and the rest of us that have been kind of shown the door should just kind of be quiet and let the two guys that are going forward duke it out,” said Evans.

The one outcome the top four candidates can all agree they saw coming is the likelihood of a runoff election in May.

“This was a race to see who ends up in the runoff,” said Falsey.

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