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Sheffield Loses Bid For Second Term With PM-Primaries Rdp, Bjt

August 27, 1986

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Lawyer Steve Cowper avenged an earlier primary defeat today, winning the Democratic gubernatorial nomination over Gov. Bill Sheffield, whose image was tarnished by impeachment proceedings.

On the Republican side, state Sen. Arliss Sturgulewski held a narrow lead over former Gov. Walter Hickel.

Election officials said they would not begin hand-counting the state’s 13,000 absentee ballots until Thursday, and the tally could take several days.

Sheffield defeated Cowper by 259 votes in the 1982 primary. But a succession of scandals, culminated by a grand jury finding that Sheffield was unfit for office, apparently changed voters’ minds.

With 427 of Alaska’s 442 precincts reporting, Cowper had an overwhelming lead over Sheffield in Tuesday’s primary, 32,125 to 23,632, or 57 percent to 42 percent. Phil Stoddard and Ryal White had a combined total of 259 votes.

On the GOP side, Sturgulewski led a nine-candidate field with 23,211 votes, or 31 percent, while Hickel had 21,242 or 28 percent.

Other Republicans included Dick Randolph with 16,061 votes or 22 percent, and former House Speaker Joe Hayes, with 7,212, or 9 percent.

In the Democratic U.S. Senate race, with 427 of 442 precincts reporting, Glenn Olds, president of Alaska Pacific University, won a five-way competition with 33,333 votes, or 76 percent. Bill Barnes, his closest competitor had 3,634 votes, or 8 percent.

First-term GOP Sen. Frank Murkowski had no primary opposition in his bid for a second term.

Rep. Don Young easily won renomination over GOP newcomers Sam Carson, George Johnston and Charley Newell. With 427 of 442 precincts reporting, Young had 76,742 or 91 percent.

Pegge Begich, who lost to Young in 1984, was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Alaska voters also were asked whether to endorse a freeze and reduction of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

The initiative ″would officially recognize that the prevention of nuclear war is the greatest challenge facing the Earth and that the nuclear arms race dangerously increases the risk of a war that would destroy humanity.″

With 427 of 442 precincts reporting, the measure led 70,929, or 58 percent, to 51,376, or 42 percent.

Cowper said little during the campaign about the impeachment proceedings. Today, he said no comment was needed.

″We felt like the average citizen knew as much as we did about Mr. Sheffield ... about the events that had been chronicled in the papers,″ said Cowper, 48.

Sheffield, who has built a hotel forturne, outspent Cowper by a margin of about 2-1. He spent little until the final month of the campaign, when he poured about $130,000 into the race.

Sheffield spent about $600,000 of his own money in 1982.

The incumbent governor has been criticized for layoffs and proposed wage cuts for state employees in the wake of state revenues decimated by plunging world oil prices.

Sturgulewski, 58, who hopes to become Alaska’s first woman governor, was endorsed by former Gov. Jay Hammond, who defeated Hickel in the Republican primaries in 1974 and 1978.

Hickel was unwilling to concede early today.

″In elections I’ve run, they’ve always been close,″ Hickel said.

Hickel, 66, was elected governor in 1966, resigning three years into his four-year term to become interior secretary under President Nixon. He quit after several disagreements with Nixon.

Cowper, who retired from the Legislature in 1978, served the last two years of his legislative career as chairman of the House Finance Committee.

Sheffield, 58, is a one-time Sears Roebuck & Co. TV repairman. Last summer, the Alaska Senate decided there were insufficient grounds to pursue impeachment for steering a state office building to a crony.

In 1983, a state special prosecutor criticized Sheffield for ″lack of sensitivity to the appearance of impropriety″ for having accepted $150,000 in oil company contributions to retire his campaign debts.

The prosecutor found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

The next year, the FBI investigated allegations that several state employees were pressured into attending two birthday party fund-raisers for Sheffield. Prosecutors again found no evidence of a criminal act.

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