Analysis: Juneau voters break for Democrats, back initiatives

Republican sign wavers at 10th Street and Egan Drive in Juneau try to get the attention of evening commuters on Election Day. Capital city voters broke toward Democratic candidates in Alaska’s Congressional races. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)
Republican sign wavers at 10th Street and Egan Drive in Juneau try to get the attention of evening commuters on Election Day. Capital city voters broke toward Democratic candidates in Alaska’s Congressional races. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Juneau voters went against the national and statewide Republican trend Tuesday, backing Democratic candidates for Alaska’s Congressional seats. They also supported the three initiatives on the general election ballot by wide margins.

While it appears Democrat Mark Begich will lose his U.S. Senate seat to Republican challenger Dan Sullivan, Begich beat Sullivan in both state House districts that include Juneau. The one-term incumbent got more than 51 percent of the vote in House District 34, which encompasses the Mendenhall Valley and north end of Juneau’s road system. Begich got more than 66 percent of the vote in House District 33, which includes downtown Juneau, Douglas Island, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Gustavus.

Democratic candidate for U.S. House Forrest Dunbar also won both Juneau districts, despite losing statewide to Republican Congressman Don Young.

Juneau voters backed the independent ticket for governor. Bill Walker and former capital city Mayor Byron Mallott beat Republican incumbent Sean Parnell and his running mate, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, in both Juneau districts.

Juneau is down with legal marijuana. More than 67 percent of voters in District 33 and more than 57 percent in District 34 said yes to Ballot Measure 2, which makes the drug legal for people 21 and older and calls for a system to tax and regulate its use.

Ballot Measure 3 to raise the minimum wage and Measure 4 to require legislative approval of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region also passed by wide margins in both Juneau districts. All three initiatives were approved statewide as well.

Voter turnout statewide was 44.8 percent on Tuesday. It was almost 10 points higher in District 34. But only 43.8 percent of registered voters cast ballots in District 33.

The downtown Juneau No. 1 precinct had the lowest turnout in House District 33 at 31.9 percent. The highest turnout was in Klukwan, near Haines, at 53.1 percent.

The Lynn Canal precinct had the highest turnout in District 34, with 46.8 percent of registered voters casting ballots. The lowest turnout was at the Mendenhall Valley No. 1 precinct at 32.9 percent.

All results from Tuesday’s election are unofficial until certified. As of Wednesday, the Division of Elections had yet to count more than 23,000 absentee ballots received by Tuesday. Thousands more absentee ballots were still outstanding, but many of those may not be returned.