Deviating From State's Republican Picks, Unalaska Supports Begich And Galvin

Nov 7, 2018

Deputy City Clerk Roxanna Winters (center) helps Billie Jo Gehrig cast her ballot Tuesday at Unalaska City Hall.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Tuesday's election may have been a big win for Alaska Republicans, but preliminary results show Unalaska went blue.

While most Alaskans supported Mike Dunleavy for governor and Don Young for U.S. Representative, island voters turned out for their respective opponents: Democrat Mark Begich and independent Alyse Galvin, who ran on the Democratic ticket.

Begich and Galvin each earned about 54 percent of the local vote, which is at least nine percentage points higher than their statewide results.

Historical numbers indicate that Unalaska's vote can be hard to predict.

In the past ten years, island residents have gone back and forth on Young, a longtime Republican incumbent. They've demonstrated no consistent partisan trend in picking candidates for governor, U.S. senator, or president. And they've participated in a number of close races, including the 2008 contest that saw John McCain beat Barack Obama by a dozen votes in the precinct.

One thing that has remained steady is Unalaska’s support of Bryce Edgmon.

The Dillingham Democrat won his sixth term in Juneau after earning about 62 percent of the local and districtwide votes.

He defeated Republican William Weatherby of King Salmon to continue representing House District 37, which covers a huge swath of southwest Alaska that includes the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands.

Still, Edgmon will likely have to contend with a Republican-controlled Legislature, as well a Republican governor, which he's said could jeopardize programs in the rural district.

In total, 685 Unalaskans voted in the election. That represents about 34 percent of registered voters. Those numbers may change, though, as the state is still canvassing absentee and questioned ballots.