Alaska Gov. Dunleavy backs Trump after claims of election theft, as other Republicans congratulate Biden

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy meets with President Donald Trump on Air Force One during a layover at Joint Base Elmenorf-Richardson in Anchorage last year. (Sheila Craighead/White House)

Top Alaska Republicans have split on President Donald Trump’s claims that the election was stolen, with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and U.S. Rep. Don Young both congratulating Democrat Joe Biden on his apparent victory while Gov. Mike Dunleavy says he’s standing by the president for now.

Dunleavy, who’s often praised and partnered with Trump and appeared at a White House event earlier this year, issued his statement on the presidential race late Saturday.

RELATED: At White House event, Alaska Gov. Dunleavy lauds Trump deregulation as restoring “American dream”

“No president has done more to create economic opportunity in our great state than President Donald Trump,” the statement quoted Dunleavy as saying. “I, for one, will support our president’s efforts to ensure that the election is completed with integrity. Let us hope and pray that it is.”

National media outlets have called the presidential election for Biden. But Trump isn’t conceding, and is instead pushing unproven allegations that the presidency was stolen.

Two days after the election, he took to the podium in the White House briefing room and declared, falsely, that he’d beaten Biden.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.”

Read full election coverage from Alaska Public Media

Trump’s campaign and national Republicans have filed an array of legal claims challenging ballot-counting in battleground states. But judges have rejected many of them, and Trump has offered no concrete evidence of widespread fraud or election theft.

Nonetheless, few national-level Republican politicians have publicly accepted that Biden is the winner, and on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump was “100% within his rights” to investigate irregularities and pursue his legal options.

Dunleavy did not respond Monday to a request for additional comment made through the Alaska Republican Party.

Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, meanwhile, has also avoided directly weighing in on the presidential race. Sullivan is still awaiting the results of his own re-election campaign: He leads Democratic Party-endorsed challenger Al Gross by 30%, but nearly half the votes in the race remain uncounted, and Gross’ campaign maintains that it has a path to victory.

Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan stands with a group of sign-wavers on Election Day in Anchorage. (Nat Herz/Alaska Public Media)

RELATED: Alaska US Senate race: Gross trails Sullivan but says math is in his favor

“Based on the numbers that we’re seeing, Dan Sullivan is very clearly projected to win the Alaska Senate race, and Joe Biden is expected to win the presidency,” Sullivan’s campaign spokesman Matt Shuckerow said Monday. “But as we await the results in Alaska and across the country, we also expect that our elections are fair and transparent and uphold the integrity of our entire election process.”

Shuckerow added that he expects Sullivan to have more to say once the state posts results from its initial round of absentee vote-counting Tuesday.

David Ramseur, who volunteered on Biden’s campaign in Alaska, said the state will be better off if its elected leaders accept that the race is over and start working with the president-elect.

“Alaska has so much at stake with the federal government, so I think it just makes good sense for our statewide leaders to recognize reality,” Ramseur said. “It’s to Alaska’s benefit to get on the bandwagon here and to build a relationship with a new president.”

Ramseur said it’s the “tinfoil hat crowd” that’s holding on to allegations of widespread voter fraud that could overturn the election results.

But other Alaska Republicans besides Dunleavy are also urging patience.

Craig Campbell, a former Alaska lieutenant governor, said he’s looking to the presidential campaigns and the courts for rulings on the outcome — not the mainstream media.

“That’s what I’m saying we should have patience for in America,” Campbell said in a phone interview Monday. “I could care less what the Washington Post says. I could care less about what the New York Times says.”

Campbell said the “legitimate concerns” of the Trump campaign should be addressed, and he added that he’ll accept the results of the election by mid-December, when each state holds meetings for electors to cast their electoral votes.

Even if Trump loses, Campbell added, he said he thinks most members of his party in Alaska will move on — even if they won’t be happy about it.

“We’ll be mad, we’ll be upset. We’ll say, ‘Hey, how can we do this better next time?’” he said. “But it’s not going to be the end of the world, and you will not see a revolution because Biden becomes president. At least not in our state.”

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Nat Herz covers government, politics, environment and COVID-19 for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at nherz@alaskapublic.org.

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