Alaska Legislature filing deadline passes as candidates prepare for coronavirus-impacted campaigns

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 6:50 PM AKDT
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A steady stream of people came to the Division of Elections offices in Anchorage on Monday, filing paperwork to run for the Alaska Legislature.

The deadline to file for the Aug. 18 primaries and the Nov. 3 general election passed at 5:00 p.m.

Anchorage Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt arrived around 11:00 a.m. to officially file his candidacy for House District 27. “Alaska is at a turning point, and they need experience,” he said.

The seat looks to be hotly contested with challenger Liz Snyder strongly backed by the Alaska Democrats. In 2018, Pruitt won against Snyder by less than 200 votes.

The 2020 election season will likely look very different with COVID-19 impacting how candidates campaign.

“Nothing replaces going door-to-door and having one-on-one conversations with Alaskan voters to find out what’s important to them,” said Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage.

Multiple candidates said they either wouldn’t go door knocking or would wait to see what happens with the pandemic. Alternative strategies could see candidates connecting with voters online or by telephone.

“And that’s not a bad thing, it’s just another way of reaching out to people,” Pruitt said.

The Alaska Democrats are looking to move all their big in-person events online. “So, obviously turning events into virtual events, and figuring out the logistics of that, is going to be quite different,” said Mindy O’Neall, the coordinated campaign director for the party.

O’Neall said with people at home, using computers more during the coronavirus pandemic, that campaigning online could be more effective than in other years. “Perhaps it’s a better way than before to get them to open up that email or that text,” she said.

Other candidates faced different challenges while filing to run for office.

Andy Holleman, an Anchorage School Board member, came to the Division of Elections offices around 12:30 p.m. He filed to run as an undeclared candidate for Senate District M which is currently held by Sen. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage.

To be eligible to run in November, Holleman still needs to collect 152 signatures from registered voters within his district before the August primary deadline. “I think I know enough people in the district, there will be ways to get the word out to make arrangements, so people feel comfortable getting close enough to sign a piece of paper,” he said.

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