Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Native corporations’ efforts to get out the vote for Senator Lisa Murkowski in rural parts of Alaska appear to have worked.
In the weeks before Election Day, the group Alaskans Standing Together – a Political Action Committee made up of 12 regional Native Corporations – spent more than $1.2 million supporting Murkowski’s write-in bid. It also had volunteers go door-to-door in rural villages to drum up support for her campaign.
In District 38, which includes Bethel and surrounding villages, write-ins got 76 percent of the vote, compared to 14 percent for Democrat Scott McAdams and 9 percent for Republican nominee Joe Miller. In the Bristol Bay and Aleutian Islands area – District 37 – write-ins got 61 percent of the vote.
Angoon State Senator Albert Kookesh’s home community voted 81 percent for write-ins. Kookesh is a Democrat, but also a Sealaska Corporation board member. He bucked his party to support Murkowski.
Murkowski has championed Sealaska’s land selection legislation in Congress. The bill would allow the company to choose land outside the original 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act boundaries to complete its entitlement. Another Sealaska board member, Byron Mallott, co-chaired Murkowski’s statewide campaign. Mallott was travelling to Washington, D.C. Wednesday and unavailable for comment.
The Alaska Federation of Natives, which endorsed Murkowski, cancelled a scheduled Senate candidate forum at its recent convention. Kookesh is co-chair of the AFN board of directors.
The $1.2 million spent by Alaskans Standing Together was the largest amount spent by a group in Alaska’s Senate race. A spokesman for the group could not be reached for comment.
Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage
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