September 27, 2004


Alaska's votes belongs to Bush, but the Senate is up for grabs (Mike Bradner, 9/26/04, Alaska Journal of Commerce)

The big question for Alaskans in the November general election is our choice in the U.S. Senate race: Republican Lisa Murkowski vs. Democrat Tony Knowles. This race will be a close one despite our general political colors.

The recent primary election results don't necessarily tell us much, not with closed primaries and their restricted ballots. As we went to the polls in August, Alaska voter rolls showed 115,104 registered Republicans and 69,182 Democrats. Compared with the 2002 primary election Democratic registration was down about 2,000, while Republicans were up about 1,000.

However, both party registrations are dwarfed by a huge pool of roughly 238,000 registered voters who declare themselves "no party or undeclared," plus another 35,000 voters who declare to be Libertarians, Greens, Republican moderates, members of the Alaska Independence Party and so on. This is a sizable independent quantum of voters. In many respects, this is the "independent jury" of the public, those to which partisan candidates must appeal in the general election. However, only about 50 percent of those registered in political parties or otherwise are likely to vote in the November election.

We also have just finished a contentious primary election on the Republican side in the U.S. Senate race. While the survivor, Murkowski, marshaled 45,477 votes, her challenger, Mike Miller, garnered an impressive 29,176. There are some unhappy voters among Miller's group, and Miller himself has seemed a reluctant endorser of Murkowski.

Despite the imbalance in party registration, we have a horse race between incumbent Sen. Murkowski and former Gov. Tony Knowles. Murkowski is the Republican appointed to the U.S. Senate seat by her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski, who resigned the senate seat in 2002 to become governor. Knowles served two terms as governor and is a former mayor of Anchorage.

Even Bob Dole got 58% in Alaska and W 59% last time, so you figure he's over 60% easy. Send Dick Cheney to make the case for how badly the GOP needs that seat in the Senate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2004 5:25 PM

The GOP not holding this seat would be a major dissapointment of this election. Bush's large margin of victory should help the GOP hold the seat but its not a certainty (same for OK).

Posted by: AWW at September 27, 2004 11:29 PM