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Anchorage mayoral runoff remains close with Bronson taking a slim lead

Anchorage mayoral candidates Forrest Dunbar (left) and Dave Bronson (right).
Anchorage mayoral candidates Forrest Dunbar (left) and Dave Bronson (right).(Photo courtesy the campaigns of Forrest Dunbar and Dave Bronson.)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 6:32 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The runoff race for Anchorage mayor is still neck and neck, with updated preliminary results on Wednesday showing candidate Dave Bronson pulling slightly ahead of Forrest Dunbar.

Dunbar, a member of the Anchorage Assembly, had a slim lead of 114 votes in the race when initial preliminary results were released Tuesday night.

“We always said it was going to be a very tight race,” he said Tuesday evening. “I don’t think anybody predicted it would be this tight.”

Meanwhile, Bronson’s campaign saw the early numbers as a sign of victory on the horizon.

“We knew it was gonna be a tight race but I think it’s gonna break in our favor because that’s just the way it does,” he told supporters Tuesday night, adding, “Conservatives vote late.”

Wednesday’s results show Bronson, a retired military and commercial pilot, is now ahead by 278 votes.

A majority of ballots were counted Tuesday night. Election officials had received about 79,500 ballot envelopes by the end of Tuesday, according to an email from the elections office, and more than 72,000 ballots were counted that night and included in the first round of preliminary results.

Election officials counted roughly an additional 4,000 ballots on Wednesday and will continue to count remaining ballots and ballots that arrive by mail within the 10 days following the election, provided that the ballots were postmarked on or before election day.

With 76,135 ballots tallied so far, the election has a current turnout of about 32% of registered voters.

“We have exceeded the results from the April election,” Deputy Clerk Erika McConnell said Wednesday. “I think we got about 76,000 back in April and we’re already over 80,000 for the runoff so we don’t know our final number but it looks like we may be on track to break a record.”

With so few votes separating the two candidates, an automatic recount appears likely. Anchorage Municipal code requires a recount when a candidate wins by a margin of less than 0.5%. Dunbar and Bronson are currently separated by just 0.36% according to the updated results.

The municipal clerk has seven days from the adoption of the election commission’s report to initiate an automatic recount, according to city code.

Recounts for two races for the Anchorage School Board in the regular municipal election — one automatic and one called for by Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones — were conducted within a week of the election results being certified on April 20.

Results of a recount then have to go before the Anchorage Assembly to be certified, just like the regular municipal election results. Certification of recount results would be subject to the outcome of any election contest, should a candidate decide to contest the runoff election.

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