Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Alaska primary will change little in Juneau
Next week residents will head to the polls to cast ballots in the Alaska primary.
The state primary has never attracted the kind of attention of Pokemon Go. Since 2002 only one in three registered voters, in Alaska, on average cast a primary ballot. But for thousands of Alaska voters, if you don’t vote in the primary, you won’t have a say in who represents you in Juneau.
Of the 50 legislative seats up for grabs this year, eight of them will be determined in the primary.
On the House side, six races won’t go beyond Aug. 16. Five are Republican only races and one House seat will be decided between two Democrats.
On the Senate side, two out of 10 seats will be decided in the primary.
Senator Charlie Huggins is retiring and will be replaced by a fellow Republican because no Democrats have filed.
And Senator Johnny Ellis, who is also retiring, will be replaced by a fellow Democrat because no Republican has filed for that seat.
After a year of rancor and gridlock in Juneau, you might think that incumbents are in for a real challenge this election season — and for the most part, you’d be wrong.
In spite of all the anti-incumbent rhetoric you’ve probably heard 12 Alaska lawmakers are facing no challengers this year.
In the House, eight incumbents have no opponents. In the Senate, four incumbents face no competition.
Right now, 12 Alaska lawmakers know their jobs are secured. And by next Wednesday, 20 seats in the Alaska Legislature will be filled.
Of the remaining races that will go on to the general election in November, the power of incumbency, and Alaska’s district boundaries, will continue to make it difficult for challengers of either party.
So here’s your Reality Check: There will be some new lawmakers next session in Juneau, in part because of retirements, but don’t expect a major shift in majorities and minorities. Lawmakers certainly aren’t.
Because for all the talk of gridlock and change, Alaska lawmakers have more job security than the Alaska Aces team dentist.
And for many Alaskans if you don’t vote in the state primary, you’ll have no voice at all.
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees
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