Candidates make big push ahead of Tuesday primary in Alaska
By BECKY BOHRER
Aug. 20, 2018
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Candidates are making big campaign pushes ahead of Tuesday's primary in Alaska, with a few dozen attending a meet-and-greet Sunday at a mega-church in Alaska's biggest city.
Vehicles, some festooned with flags or campaign signs, sporadically dotted the parking lot of the Anchorage Baptist Temple, which has hosted the candidate meet-up event for decades, Pastor Jerry Prevo said.
Tables trimmed with red, white and blue and decked with literature, buttons or signs welcomed people who walked into the brightly lit lobby. Parishioners were able to stop by before or after Sunday morning's contemporary service. The service itself was attended by the candidates, some of whom were bopping their heads to the upbeat music and all of whom got to introduce themselves to the congregation before the sermon, which was about heaven.
Prevo asked congregants to hold their applause until all candidates were introduced, for the sake of time. He joked that those who wanted to applaud could do so if they put $100 in the offering.
When Mike Dunleavy, a conservative seeking the Republican nomination for governor, introduced himself and his wife, there were whoops and applause.
"Well, there's about $300 right there," Prevo teased.
Most of the candidates attending were Republican, but not all. Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, who is unopposed in Tuesday's Democratic primary for governor, attended with his son.
Begich, who has long been vocal in his support of abortion rights, was given a table near a banner that read "Pro-Life Alaska." He made clear that the sign wasn't his.
Though he has no primary challenger, Begich is hoping for a strong turnout Tuesday and focusing attention on getting out the vote. On a recent trip to Juneau, for example, he said he called into a Bethel radio station to remind people of the election and answer questions.
The major Republican candidates for governor, Dunleavy and former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, also were among the nearly three dozen candidates who attended the Sunday meet-and-greet at the Anchorage church.
Dunleavy worked the room and posed for selfies while wearing campaign buttons. He said he feels good about the campaign and plans to focus in the lead-up to Tuesday in working the phones and reminding people to vote.
Dunleavy's candidacy has gotten a boost from an independent expenditure group that has received considerable funding from a brother of Dunleavy's and from an Alaska sport fishing activist.
Treadwell, who has cast himself as the more experienced and well-rounded of the two, said he'll continue to hammer away at that theme, particularly in trying to sway voters who are still undecided. People want a governor with experience, he said.
Treadwell is a former chairman of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission who most recently worked for a private equity firm. He also has experience in state government.
He was lieutenant governor from 2010 to 2014 under then-Gov. Sean Parnell, who has endorsed Dunleavy.
Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, is not participating in a party primary. He opted instead to gather signatures to appear on the November general election ballot, a move that he said ensured he'd be able to run with his lieutenant governor, Democrat Byron Mallott.
Elsewhere, independent U.S. House candidate Alyse Galvin planned to visit 24 neighborhoods over 24 hours in her hometown of Anchorage, including midnight bingo, as part of her big campaign push leading to Tuesday.
Galvin and Democrat Dimitri Shein have been actively campaigning for the Democratic nomination for House in hopes of challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young, who is expected to win his primary. Shein plans a phone banking event Monday evening.