Alaska News Nightly: November 5, 2008

In the wake of the election we look at the still-undecided races for Alaska’s Congressional seats. It could be more than a week before the results are in. Plus, Governor Sarah Palin prepares to face a very different landscape as she returns to the state after a long campaign. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Stevens and Young leading respective Congressional races
Dave Donaldson, Ellen Lockyer, Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
It will be several days before the final vote tallies are in for Alaska’s seats in the U.S. Senate and House. With more than 99% of precincts reporting, both incumbents, Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young, are ahead in their races. Stevens has about a 1.5% lead over his Democratic challenger, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. And Young maintains a 7.5% lead over challenger Ethan Berkowitz. But more than 60,000 absentee, early and questioned ballots still need to be counted.

A Southern perspective on Stevens and Young
Lori Townsend, APRN
Tonight we check in with Joel Southern, a former APRN reporter that covered Senator Stevens and Congressman Young from Washington, DC for more than 20 years. He now lives in Denmark, where he stayed up most of last night watching the returns come in.

National Republicans hoping to retain Alaskan seats in the ‘R’ column
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The Republican Party suffered losses in the U.S. Congress, but they’re optimistic about the possibility of retaining Alaska’s House and Senate seats. The National Republican Congressional Committee saw about 20 House seats lost to Democrats last night. But committee spokesman Ken Spain says they’re attributing Congressman Don Young’s lead to Governor Sarah Palin’s presence on the ticket as the Republican vice presidential candidate. Spain says while Young was polling behind his opponent, Democratic candidate Ethan Berkowitz, Republican voters backed Young in the voter’s booth.

Persily’s Palin effect prediction appears proven
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Back in late August when John McCain first announced Governor Palin would be his running mate, former Anchorage Daily News editorial page editor Larry Persily predicted the news would help Don Young and Ted Stevens. It appears he may have been right and we check in with Persily while we wait for final counts in the U.S. House and Senate races.

Governor Palin back on the job Thursday
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Sarah Palin returns to Alaska tonight, no longer a Republican Vice Presidential contender. Palin’s spokesman Bill McCallister says the Governor will ride the McCain/Palin campaign plane back to Alaska tonight and will get back to work tomorrow. Palin will still have secret service protection for a few more days as she settles back into her life in Alaska. McCallister says the immediate priority will be the state budget.

Democrats gain seats in Alaska legislature
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Democrats may have had a tough time at the top of the ticket last night in Alaska, but they gained some seats in Alaska’s legislature.

Environmental groups celebrating national Democratic wins
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Leading environmental groups gathered in Washington, DC this afternoon to weigh in on yesterday’s election results. Among them were the directors of the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and Clean Water Action. They celebrated Senator Barak Obama’s win for the presidency as well as some of the Senate and House seats Democrats picked up across the country. The groups said their goals for the next Congressional session will include working to fight global warming, and bringing about recovery for the climate alongside economic recovery.