2022 Shellacking: Part 4: Alaska

2022 Shellacking: Part 4: Alaska

We covered the cause and purpose of this series in the previous parts:

Basically, we’re looking at each state and checking who is running and who is expected to win in each. This breakdown will hopefully give an insight into where and why Democrats are in for a bad time this year, and what they could have done about it, and why we as the people of the USA should care.

So far, we’ve found a 4 representative systemic deficit for Democrats, with maybe one seat to flip in AZ for Republicans. 4 Republican seats aren’t contested at all, compared to 0 Democrat seats.

Let’s look at Alaska and see if the numbers change.

Alaska Voting

There’s only one district in Alaska. It’s a huge landmass with a very small, very clustered population. At 731,545 people total, it’s one of the smallest state populations, which incidentally also means a two party system has a drastic impact on it. Any party who has even a slight popularity advantage takes everything in the entire state, including its Senate seats.

You see this today with the GOP, as they lead in registrations 39% to Democrats 32%. A full 29% identifies as Independent, though most of those vote for Republican in a two way ticket.

However, Alaska is one of three states that as of 2020 are working with a ranked choice system. Alaska itself using a top 4 primary system, whereas Washington and California use a top two. In essence, this means that everyone will run in the same primary, and the top 4 will face one another in the general, using ranked choice voting (you can order your preferences, and if one does not get a majority, the lowest ranked is eliminated and the votes for that person go to the voter’s second choice, until a majority is reached).

Alaska District 1:

Dan Young died in office, leaving it open for the new primary system. There are 48 people running in this primary, so I will not be going through them all, only the ones currently at the top four positions at this time (the primary has happened, but due to Alaska’s unique mail in system, tomorrow is the last day for results to come in, so things can still change).

At the top of the pack is resigned ex-governor Sarah Palin, who I’m almost sure needs very little introduction. She is a COVID conspiracy theorist and Donald Trump darling, fully invested in the Big Lie and grossly unpopular in Alaska (59% disapprove versus 36% approve). However, in a top tier primary system, she definitely has the advantage of unifying the Trump Republicans (which is most of them) behind her. Palin resides in Arizona, but still has a residence in Alaska so can run for the seat.

Running as the classic Republican alternative is Nick Begich, the grandson of the Alaskan Congressman before Young. His personal funding eclipses Palin’s campaign funds, and he has double that in support from the Alaskan Republican Party. Begich is a business manager with a lot of experience working with Young, and he uses this a lot in his campaigning. His main focus is on creating economic opportunities for people in Alaska, focused mostly on natural resources. He is anti-abortion rights and anti any regulations on guns.

Third in rankings is non-partisan candidate Al Gross. A physician and fisherman, he is most well known for running for the Senate in 2020. He focuses on the partisan gridlock and how to break it, while highlighting capital projects to the state and national defense against Russia. He is pro-abortion rights.

In fourth is Democrat Mary Petola, a state lawmaker and director of non-profit organizations focusing on partnership between Natives and rural Alaskans. Her focus is on federal investments into the state for capital projects and economic development. She is pro-abortion rights, pro-basic gun regulations, and pro expanding the Supreme Court.

The Ranked Choice system will greatly alter any expectations for this district, but it’s unlikely that Democrats will pick up a seat here. The best they can hope for, IMO, is that Al Gross wins and caucuses with them on important items. The odds look to be in the GOP favor.

Alaska Senate Race:

This year’s open seat is held by Republican Lisa Murkowski. She has become a pariah among her party for voting to impeach Donald Trump for his incitement of a coup attempt in 2021, after he lost the 2020 elections. She has been censured and both the Alaskan GOP and Donald Trump have moved to primary her. Murkowski is known as a moderate, voting for climate change measures but against spending increases, against the expedited Barrett confirmation but for the actual nomination, etc. She supported more of Trump’s initiatives than Biden’s or Obamas, and the main reason the GOP is against her is that she tried to hold Trump accountable for his criminal incitement and other attempts to undermine democracy and the rule of law.

She is being challenged in the open primary, so there are a lot of possible contenders. On the top tier are Republicans Kelly Tshibaka (Trump-endorsed and Alaska GOP-endorsed Commissioner of the Department of Administration, fully invested in the Big Lie and pushing far right propaganda policy points, and anti-McConnell), and Karl Speights (Theocrat and owner of perhaps the worst formatted website in 2022, focused on investing “God’s Laws” as the United States’ laws). Also on the top tier are Democrats Edgar Blatchford (Mayor of Seward and professor, supported of diversified economic bases for Alaska and ex-Republican (having turned after the GOP embraced Donald Trump)) and Patricia Chesbro (Educator focused on education, women’s rights and environmentalism) Libertarian Sean Thorne (Veteran focused on smaller, decentralized government, lack of restrictions and environmentalism) and Independent Huhnkie Lee (Ex Republican Lawyer, attorney and veteran focused on mining and developing natural resource harvesting operations).

It’s not likely that Democrats would pick up this seat, because support among Democrats for Murkowski remains high and no Democrat appears as strongly. Whether Trump succeeds in replacing Murkowski or not, this will probably stay Republican.


Alaska is only slightly more Republican than Democrat (7%). However, the strong Independent presence in Alaskan politics tends to side with Republicans, and their current Senator is a moderate both parties can and have gotten behind. The open House race probably also belongs to Republicans. In both races it’s not a matter of which party wins, but whether the extremist Trumpists or the (slightly) more classic Republicans will win.

No seats are uncontested and no representation deficits exist.

The record thus stands, after 4 states reviewed we’ve found a 4 representative systemic deficit for Democrats, with maybe one seat to flip in AZ for Republicans. 4 Republican seats aren’t contested at all, compared to 0 Democrat seats.

Do you agree with this analysis? Which candidate would you like to see win a race?

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