Alaska News Nightly: August 25, 2010

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Miller Stays Ahead; Murkowski Waiting on Absentee Ballots
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
With all but two precincts reporting, Joe Miller is holding his lead in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Less than 1,500 votes separate him from incumbent Lisa Murkowski. The Division of Elections says it has at least 7,600 absentee ballots to count, a process that will begin next Tuesday and continue through early September. Murkowski was quiet last night as the results were coming in, but she spoke briefly about the vote count this morning.

Murkowski talked at her campaign headquarters in Anchorage, standing with her two teenage sons and her husband, Verne Martell. She said she’s optimistic the absentee ballots will put her on top.

Murkowski says she hasn’t had much time to consider what went wrong for her campaign last night. She says there will be plenty of time for speculating later on, but right now, she isn’t looking back with any regrets.

Despite lots of speculation on what Murkowski may do if she loses the election, she says it’s premature to talk about that with thousands of absentee ballots yet to count. And her campaign manager, John Bitney says he’s hoping the work the campaign did getting the message out on absentee voting will pay off.

Meanwhile, Joe Miller was mostly quiet today on his surprise success at drawing primary votes.

Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai says once the final vote tally is in, one of the candidates can request a recount. An automatic recount will happen only if the race is tied.

Pundits Marvel at Miller’s Strong Showing
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Political scientists and pundits across the country are marveling at Joe Miller’s strong showing in yesterday’s primary.

Senate Primary Motivates Richardson Highway Voters
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Miller-Murkowski contest motivated some Richardson Highway community voters in yesterday’s primary. As KUAC’s Tim Ellis reports, they were seeking to shake things up.

McAdams Prepares for General Election
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Scott McAdams, who won last night’s Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate race is still mostly unknown around the state. McAdams is the mayor of Sitka. He says he’s prepared to beat Joe Miller in November if he maintains his lead in the Republican Primary. McAdams says although the Tea Party express is a national phenomenon, he doesn’t think it reflects Alaska’s values of family and community. He says they are the party of no.

McAdams says he believes Alaska needs federal help to develop new models of energy development into the future.

He says he didn’t always agree with Senator Murkowski’s decisions but he respected her work as a public servant. If Miller prevails, he says it’s an unfortunate end to her career as Senator, but he’ll focus on the campaign fight with Miller.

McAdams said he didn’t have figures on how much money he has on hand currently.

Carey Shocked at Results of Murkowski-Miller Race So Far
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Michael Carey has watched the results of the Murkowski-Miller race come in with a good bit of shock. He says there’s a mathematical chance Murkowski could win once the absentee ballots are counted, but it’s unlikely. Even though during the 2008 election, Democrat Mark Begich eked out a slim victory over Ted Stevens that way.

Parnell and Treadwell Present United Front
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
Governor Sean Parnell and Republican running mate Mead Treadwell presented a united front in a post election appearance Wednesday. Parnell says now that the dust of the primary is behind them, they aim to be the team to move Alaska forward.

Berkowitz, Benson Win Democratic Party Nominations
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Parnell will face Democrat Ethan Berkowitz in November. Diane Benson won the Democrat’s Lieutenant Governor’s race.

Ballot Measure One, dubbed the anti-corruption proposition by proponents and the gag-law by opponents, suffered a more than 32,000 vote drubbing. Alaska Education Association Barb Anguyuk was one of the leaders against Measure One.

Meanwhile, Ballot Measure Two, which will require doctors to notify parents or guardians if a minor under the age of 18 seeks an abortion captured around 55 percent approval. Bernadette Wilson was the Vote Yes on Two campaign manager.

This primary’s closest primary race was for the Republican nomination for House District 12 in the Valdez area. The unofficial results have Eric Feige leading with 666 votes, followed by Don Haase with 660 and Pete Fellman with 658. The eventual winner will face Democrat Bert Cottle.

The Division of Elections reports voter turnout at 27.5 percent yesterday. That’s in line with the 2004 primary, where turnout was 28 percent. Turnout in the 2006 and 2008 primaries stood at 35 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

Search Goes into Fifth Day for Missing Plane
Associated Press
The search is continuing for a fifth day into a plane missing in Katmai National Park and Preserve. The National Park Service says eight aircraft are being used in today’s search. The search planes are flying a grid pattern and looking closely at likely flight routes. The small plane with the pilot and three Park Service employees was reported missing Saturday afternoon in bad weather.

NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on Crash That Killed Stevens
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
The National Transportation Safety Board has released the preliminary report regarding the August 9 plane crash near Lake Aleknagik that took the life of five people including former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens.

Sitka’s Orthodox Cathedral Bells Refurbished
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The bells of St. Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral in Sitka are expected to ring again in the near future – and ring correctly. In partnership with the Sitka Historical Society, the Orthodox Church has rebuilt the belfry stairs in St. Michael’s, and has cleaned and refurbished the eight bells. All that’s left is teaching a new generation of Sitkans to ring them.