I think the synergy between Peltola and Murkowski is very interesting. They are based on substantially contiguous voter groups dominated by Democrats and independents, political moderates, women, [abortion rights supporters], rural residents, Alaska Natives. I mean, that was essentially the constituency that she wrote for Lisa in 2010. And it’s categorically Mary Peltola’s constituency as well. And so those two, even though they come from different parties, will feed on each other’s energy. [in November] in a way that bodes very well for them.
And the race for governor, whether you’re looking at the Democratic candidate Les Gara, or the independent candidate Bill Walker, the race is very simple there. One of those two will take second place to the current Republican governor. Mike Dunleavy [who finished first in the primary]. And one will come third. Well, there will be a fourth, obviously, but the fourth person will be very small. And then the next question is whether Les Gara or Bill Walker is second and who is third. They will get 95 percent of each other’s votes when third place is eliminated. And then it all comes down to whether that’s enough to get them over 50 percent or Dunleavy gets there.
And going back to the Murkowski/Peltola synergy that helps Les Gara and Bill Walker [in drawing out more moderate and liberal voters] …it’s kind of an interesting dynamic. All three races are competitive. Murkowski is probably the least competitive of all, but I think the governor’s race will ultimately be competitive. The House run, even though it’s usually a foregone conclusion, or has been for the last 50 years, will be the top of the ticket, so to speak. [and get the most attention].
I mean, that’s Sarah Palin’s blessing and curse, right? She just attracts such fanatical attention, not only from her fans, but also from the press and people in general. But it’s gotten to the point where it’s too much for people. But I think the Murkowski/Peltola synergy is the biggest thing that ties it all together.
Jacobs: You mentioned the Murkowski/Petola synergy. It’s rare to see that kind of synergy between parties, and how much is that because Alaska is politically very unique and has a very different political culture than other states?
Moore: Well, Murkowski is an interesting case. He served with the late Republican Senator Ted Stevens during his last term and with the late Republican Representative Don Young; she was part of this republican trio. But over time, she began to gain support from a different group. She got her start in 2010 when Tea Party Senate candidate Joe Miller attacked her from the right. … The Tea Party saw her as a Republican in name only. And she then lost the primary to him, but she won as a write-in candidate in the general election. And that started the change for her because she then she got her support from the coalition of voters that I listed and then over time she went back and forth between the votes that would make Republicans happy and the votes that would make Republicans happy. the Democrats.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was in 2017, with the weak vote to repeal Obamacare. That vote was the one in which Republican Senator John McCain dramatically passed the Senate floor with a thumbs down. And Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were the other two who voted against it. And that did it for her at the time. For years before that, since before 2010, the dynamic for her was that she was more popular with moderates, she was deeply distrusted by Republicans and distrusted by Democrats as well. But her strength was in the middle. She could be drawn as a kind of hump that cuts across the political spectrum and is strongest in the middle.
Now it’s gotten to the point where it’s strongest among Democrats, moderately strong among moderates, and then in the absolute outhouse among Republicans. So I don’t know if that necessarily says something unique and weird about Alaskan politics.
Since the early ’90s, anyway, [Alaska politics] It has been very normal. Republicans have been in power, broadly speaking.
But Alaska has a somewhat unconventional streak. To look at the Legislature again, we’ve had some bipartisan coalitions in both the House and Senate over the years. And that says something about how, I think we don’t subscribe to the groups and partisanship that other states inflict. We are all, Republicans and Democrats alike, more willing to stand in the middle and cross the aisle.
Alaskans are unconventional and very independent. Although the political parties are dominated by the extreme wings of both sides, [I’d estimate that] the extreme wing of the Republican Party in Alaska in terms of current voters it is 20 percent and the extreme wing, in terms of voters, on the Democratic side, is 10 percent. That leaves 70 percent left over.
And that 70 percent look at people like Murkowski and say, “I don’t like everything he does. He’s sensitive and usually does what he thinks is best.” They look at people like Bill Walker and say, “I like his independence and his willingness to do the right thing.” They look at bipartisan coalitions in the Legislature and say, “I do too.” I like that.” So that’s good. We have a big, healthy center in Alaska, much more of a deep red state. It’s not necessarily purple. It has a strong red tint at one end, a strong blue tint at the other and then a large purple stripe across the middle.