JUNEAU, Alaska - Today's primary will set the tone for fall legislative races that will help decide control of the Alaska state Senate.
The Senate currently has a majority bipartisan coalition, comprised of 10 Democrats and six Republicans. While Republicans hold leadership positions, including president and majority leader, some GOP members, including the state party chair, want to break up the coalition. For some of this year's GOP challengers, trying to cast themselves as the more conservative alternative to Republican incumbents like Sens. Linda Menard and Lesil McGuire, the issue boils down to whether they believe their desire for more limited government and less spending can be accomplished with Democrats in control.
Menard, R-Wasilla, faced an aggressive campaign from Mike Dunleavy, the local school board president, in Senate District D, while McGuire, R-Anchorage, went against political newcomer Jeff Landfield, who sought to paint McGuire as a big spender, in Senate District K. Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, who expressed frustration with the way the coalition worked during the last Legislature, was in a tight-money race with Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche in Senate District O.
More than $225,000 was raised by the three Republican contenders for the vacant Senate seat in District C, most of that from former state Labor Commissioner Click Bishop and former state Sen. Ralph Seekins.
Seekins poured tens of thousands of his own dollars into the race. Conservative David Eastman is also running.
On the Democratic side, former state Rep. Harry Crawford sought to upset Sen. Bettye Davis, D-Anchorage, in the Democratic primary for Senate District M. The winner will face state Rep. Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River, in November.